2019 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 4,368 (32nd)
Offensive Touchdowns: 25 (31st)
Offensive Plays: 956 (28th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 573 (21st)
Rush Attempts: 383 (26th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 183 (Third)
Unaccounted for Carries: 92 (13th)
How did Adam Gase welcome himself to New York? By gaining the fewest yards in football. If Jets fans thought Gase’s arrival was the bad news, they weren’t prepared for Week 2, when it was announced 22-year-old franchise player Sam Darnold had a case of mono. The Jets were shatteringly bad during Darnold’s three-game absence, receiving unspeakable “quarterback play” from Luke Falk as they scored 23 total points across losses to the Browns, Patriots and Eagles. Good vibes made a brief appearance following Darnold’s Week 6 return and upset of the Cowboys, but the season was then quickly put on ice with a three-game losing streak to the Pats, Jags and Dolphins. One of the quieter 6-2 finishes in NFL history followed as Darnold and company made hay against a soft schedule. Gase craved opening it up — the Jets were amongst the leaders in three-receiver sets — but he lacked the personnel with one of the league’s thinnest receiver corps. Gase had one of the highest-paid running backs in Le’Veon Bell, but made it clear from Day 1 he loathed the expenditure, dreaming of future committees.
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2019 didn’t bring us any closer to understanding Darnold, who took some steps forward but continued to turn the ball over too frequently. Darnold’s 2.95 interception percentage was seventh worst amongst quarterbacks to attempt at least 200 passes, sandwiching him between Mason Rudolph and Jimmy Garoppolo. Darnold’s defining moment came in Week 7, when a Monday Night Football mic caught him admitting he was “seeing ghosts” against the Patriots’ front seven in a 33-0 loss. It was a season-long theme for the sophomore, who was pressured on a league-high 41.9 percent of his dropbacks. His 58.5 QB rating against pressure was 22-of-27 in Pro Football Focus’ ratings.
A huge part of the problem was a lack of reliable places to distribute the ball. That hasn’t really changed for 2020. Perennially under-utilized Robby Anderson was allowed to walk in free agency, getting replaced by deep-ball specialist Breshad Perriman and raw rookie Denzel Mims. Perriman saved what was looking like a lost career with solid seasons each of the past two years, but he is best deployed as a role player No. 3 or 4 wideout. He will be the No. 1, at least on the outside, in New York. Now established as one of the league’s better deep threats, Perriman will need to develop big-play chemistry with Darnold to rise above WR4 status in fantasy. Getting the ball down the field requires solid protection, something Darnold did not have in 2019. The Jets addressed their offensive line both in the draft and free agency, but the coronavirus-erased offseason leaves little time for the new group to gel. If Mekhi Becton and company can keep Darnold on his feet more often, Perriman should improve on last season’s career-best slash of 36/645/6.
Lining up opposite Perriman on the outside will be Mims, the only player in college football to score at least eight receiving touchdowns each of the past three seasons. Mims’ Big 12 production turned heads, but it was his comfort with a full route tree at the Senior Bowl that really caught people’s attention. Mims went on to blow up the Combine, blazing a 4.38 40 and posting a position-best three-cone time of 6.66 seconds. Like Perriman, Mims is at his best on vertical routes — 29 percent of his college yards came on go routes, per PFF — but he invites downfield jostling, finishing with the second-most contested catches (20) in the FBS last year. Long and fluid, Mims can also be a bit sloppy, as well as slightly stilted in and out of his breaks. He is the sort of player who could use a year or two to develop, but he won’t have that luxury in Florham Park. Mims is a zero-floor WR5 in fantasy.
Which brings us to the Jets’ likely target leader, slot man Jamison Crowder. Something of an annual fantasy tease, Crowder quietly finished as the WR26 by total points in PPR last season. He was the WR35 by average points. Crowder commanded a 24.2 percent target share across Darnold’s 13 starts, a number that could actually increase following Anderson’s departure. Although he’s not the sort of pick fantasy players will be dying to make in August, Crowder has a reasonable path to WR2 status in PPR.
Crowder’s top target competition could end up being TE Chris Herndon. A 2019 offseason darling coming off a strong rookie year, Herndon ended up putting the “lost” in lost season, following up a four-game drunk driving suspension with hamstring and rib injuries. He made one appearance. The Jets nevertheless showed 2020 faith, adding no one behind Herndon and journeyman 2019 fill-in Ryan Griffin. According to beat writer Connor Hughes, “to say the Jets can’t wait to get Chris Herndon back in their lineup is a vast understatement." There is a glut of athletic young tight ends for fantasy players to choose from this summer, but Herndon provides zero risk and huge upside at his current ADP of TE24.
Adam Gase isn’t a fan of Le’Veon Bell. Has he told you this yet? Did you get his voicemail? Gase’s handling of Bell’s signing was truly embarrassing, though he still dutifully gave him massive workloads. Bell’s 311 touches were eighth most in the league, but he finished a distant 16th in yards from scrimmage amongst running backs. Running behind a truly atrocious offensive line, Bell finished with zero 100-yard rushing efforts, clearing 75 precisely once. Astonishingly, Bell notched zero 20-plus yard runs, checking in with a season “high” of 19. As usual, Bell helped his fantasy cause by hauling in 66 passes, but he turned them into an empty 461 yards. On the whole, Bell found the end zone four times after holding out for all of 2018.
The Jets aggressively addressed their line — first-round OT Mekhi Becton, OG Greg Van Roten, C Connor McGovern and OT George Fant — but added Frank Gore in free agency before using a fourth-round pick on Lamical Perine. Bell is still the lead dog, but Gase has made it crystal clear that he will no longer be employing Bell as a bell-cow. Fading fast physically in an offense that remains low on overall talent, Bell could ultimately struggle even for RB2 status. He is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Gore, meanwhile, appeared equally faded for the Bills in the second half of 2019. In the event of a Bell injury, Perine would be the more compelling flier. Coming off a 40-catch season for the University of Florida, Perine could mix in early on passing downs. He’s an intriguing stash in Dynasty leagues.
Checking in at 6.5 on both FanDuel and DraftKings, the Jets have one of the lowest over/unders. The first stumbling block is a brutal schedule, one Warren Sharp rates as the league’s third toughest. An opening slate of @BUF, vs. SF and @IND before a short-week matchup with the Broncos will make a hot start tough to come by. Lacking time for their new offensive line to mesh and still running low on skill players, the Jets have a league-average defense. The under feels like the safer bet.