2018 New York Jets Fantasy Preview — Wide Receivers

Joe Malfa breaks down the New York Jets wide receivers from a fantasy football perspective…

The Jets have failed to make the playoffs since 2010. I have no idea whether or not that streak will end this season, but what I do know is they have some players who can help you make your fantasy football playoffs this season (and in the years to come). Over the next four weeks, I will be taking a position-by-position look at this Jets roster from a fantasy football perspective. The wide receivers get their turn in the spotlight today.

There was a lot of talk about the current Jets roster not having an alpha dog at wide receiver. The only player with a 1,000-yard season is Terrelle Pryor (1,007 in 2016). Robby Anderson would have reached that plateau last season there if not for Josh McCown’s injury. Jermaine Kearse is coming off a career-high 810-yard season. Quincy Enunwa came close with 857 in 2016.

Can any of these receivers take the next step and be valuable fantasy assets in 2018 with Sam Darnold likely at the helm?

Projected statistics:

Robby Anderson — 76 catches, 1,105 yards, 8 TDs

Quincy Enunwa — 65 catches, 855 yards, 3 TDs

Jermaine Kearse — 48 catches, 550 yards, 2 TDs

Terrelle Pryor — 39 catches, 430 yards,  3 TDs

Fantasy Analysis:

Robby Anderson — Off-field issues notwithstanding, Anderson is WR1 material so long as he gets consistent quarterback play. He was on pace for well over 1,000 yards with McCown under center. Pair him with Darnold for a full season and he will show his true potential. I’m not saying Anderson is as good as DeAndre Hopkins, but just look at what the addition of Deshaun Watson did for Hopkins last season. Darnold can have that same impact on Anderson this season.

We have seen what Anderson is capable of doing to opposing defenses. He can hit the home run with his speed, which forces defensive backs to give him some cushion and opens things up for him underneath. For the first time in a long time, the Jets not only have a potential young star at QB, but they also have a burgeoning star at WR. It could be a lot of fun to watch them grow together over the next few years.

When to draft? Your first and second round picks should carry your fantasy teams, but it’s the mid-round pickups that set your team apart. Anderson’s average draft position (ADP) on ESPN is 94 (8th to 10th round). My stat projections for Anderson would amount to 158 points, which would have been good enough to make him the 7th ranked WR in standard leagues last season. Even if you take him in the 6th to 8th round range — 20-30 picks before his actual ADP — you could end up with the steal of your draft. Landing a true WR1 in that range can give your team a leg up on the competition, and that’s what Anderson has the potential to be in 2018.

Quincy Enunwa — I am cautiously optimistic about Enunwa. His skillset is the perfect complement to what Anderson brings to the table, but there are two main questions. First, how will he be used? Is he going back to the h-back role? Will he be a true outside receiver? Does he spend most of his time in the slot? I’m not entirely sure. My guess is it will be a combination of h-back and slot receiver, but I don’t know what Jeremy Bates has up his sleeve. The second question is will he be rusty? After missing an entire season and now sustaining a hand injury that will cost him some camp, how will he adjust? We won’t find out until the games start to count.

When to draft? Don’t pull the trigger until the last round. The popular rule of thumb is to spend your final two picks on a kicker and a defense, but I stray from that a bit.

On a typical 16-player fantasy roster, I like to carry two QBs, five RBs, five WRs, two TEs, one kicker and one defense. Heading into the final four rounds, I try to have every box checked except for backup QB, fifth WR, kicker and defense. At this point, I tend to get the defense out of the way first followed by the kicker, saving the backup QB and fifth WR for my last two picks. Why? QB has crazy depth and receivers are fluky so I like to take a flier on a guy with a lot of upside with my last pick. Enunwa is that guy. His current ADP on ESPN in 170 (undrafted). Like I outlined, there are questions surrounding Enunwa, but I am confident he puts it all together and provides tremendous value for a 16th round pick.

Jermaine Kearse — Here is the veteran safety valve of the receiving corps. Kearse will probably drop back down to the 500-yard range after climbing to 810 last season in Enunwa’s absence. You probably won’t see any big plays out of him, but expect a lot of important, under the radar catches that move the sticks. Unfortunately, that does not amount to fantasy success.

When to draft? Don’t. Kearse’s ESPN ADP is 170 (undrafted) and rightfully so. Maybe take a flier on him in deep (14-16 team) PPR leagues because you can count on him to provide six to eight points each week in that format. Other than that, he has no real value.

Terrelle Pryor — Here is your stereotypical boom or bust WR. It will all depend on chemistry with Darnold and whether or not he can be effective in the red zone. I think he finds a role as the fourth target in this offense behind Anderson, Enunwa and Kearse. He will draw one-on-ones with the opposition’s second outside corner which could make for some big plays. With his size, he is always a threat to haul in a few touchdowns. Keep in mind he is coming off injury into a new offense.

When to draft? Don’t. Like Enunwa, Pryor also has an ADP of 170 (undrafted). Unlike Enunwa, I don’t see the upside manifesting itself. If he has a couple of big weeks, hope you’re near the top of your waiver wire and snag him. I just think there’s a better chance of Pryor being the Redskins version of himself rather than the Browns version. It’s a crowded WR room. Anderson is the Batman, Enunwa will be the Robin, Kearse is the reliable veteran, and Chad Hansen is the young gun who may surprise people. Where does that leave Pryor? Not worthy of a selection in any fantasy draft.

BONUS NUGGET:

I have a gut feeling that Darnold and Hansen are going to have some great chemistry. Maybe I am reading too much into the video that was posted of them working out together in the offseason, but I think there’s a real possibility. Hansen showed signs of improvement towards the end of last season. If Darnold gets comfortable with him, he may haul in 50 catches for 500 yards seemingly out of nowhere.

If you have that same intuition, maybe grab Hansen in the last round and hope for the best. Worst case, you wasted a 16th round pick. Just cut him for a WR on the waiver-wire who is coming off a big week.