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2012 Fantasy outlooks: New York Jets

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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In the spirit of Rex Ryan and his guarantees, here's a guarantee for Fantasy owners: You won't have any more than two Jets on your roster this season.

That's because there might be just two Jets drafted in your Fantasy league (three if you include the DST). There's Shonn Greene and there's Santonio Holmes, and frankly not many people outside of New York are excited about either guy.

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For a team that's always in the playoff chatter, and a team that finished last season with a quarterback among the Top 10 in Fantasy points, that's quite the declaration. But as the Jets have gone younger on offense, they've developed a ton of questions, none bigger than what's going on at quarterback.

When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow became expendable. The Jets, who always look for ways to make headlines, jumped at the chance and traded for him. Throughout the offseason he's been rumored to participate on offense as a quarterback and running back as well as on special teams as a punt protector. He's practiced in all of those roles but primarily at quarterback, which means we're probably going to see him replace Mark Sanchez from time to time, if not all the time if Sanchez struggles.

This couldn't be worse for Sanchez, who finished 2011 with 26 touchdowns (more than Ben Roethlisberger), 3,474 passing yards (more than Andy Dalton) and 56.7 percent of his passes completed (better than Sam Bradford). Sanchez's six rushing touchdowns -- tied for second-most of any quarterback -- especially propelled his Fantasy exploits.

With Tebow now wearing green, you can expect Sanchez to lose a few reps per game and certainly not be under center near the goal line when Tebow can barge in for six. And if Sanchez can't connect with his new receivers or help lead the offense to wins with the help of his run game, then Tebow will start picking up starts just like he did last year in Denver.

The uncertainty at quarterback combined with the youth movement at running back and wide receiver (Plaxico Burress and LaDainian Tomlinson aren't on the roster) not only make for a challenging team to project heading into the year, but a team that could struggle to win more than eight games. Even with their defense adding some talent this offseason, the Fantasy results for the offense might not favor owners, and the headlines for the Jets in New York would follow suit.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Mark Sanchez ND
Tim Tebow ND
Running Backs
Shonn Greene 6
Bilal Powell ND
Joe McKnight ND
Wide Receivers
Santonio Holmes 7
Stephen Hill 14
Jeremy Kerley ND
Chaz Schilens ND
Tight Ends
Dustin Keller ND
Kickers/Defense
Josh Brown ND
Nick Folk ND
Jets DST 14
ND - not expected to get drafted

Bust ... Dustin Keller, tight end
You might want to like Keller, and for the first few weeks of the season you might. After all, Keller has 40 catches for 615 yards and six touchdowns over his last three Septembers, all of which with Sanchez under center. But once the calendar turned to October over his last three years, Keller has amassed one game over 80 receiving yards and six total touchdowns. We're talking about 39 regular-season games here! Between that and the mass of tight ends expected to make an impact in the NFL, Keller is easy to pass on as a backup much less a starter. You'll find better sleeper tight ends in Indianapolis, Denver, Seattle, Minnesota and Tennessee. If Keller does something around or after Halloween, expect him to be available off waivers.

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Impact rookie ... Stephen Hill, wide receiver
Like many draftniks, we were intrigued by Hill in the spring. His tremendous size/speed combination enamored us even though he was a product of the Georgia Tech offense, which didn't throw a lot. But that's the same offense that developed Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, and Hill is more or less in the same mold. There's plenty of potential for Hill to put up some numbers this year, particularly if he's fast-tracked to the starting lineup as many expect. This Jets roster features Santonio Holmes as a sure-fire starter, and a lot of other suspect names (Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley). It's going to be hard for the Jets to pass up using Hill, especially if he proves in camp that he understands the offense and can handle press coverage. Hill's not yet worth a draft pick, but a strong camp could put him in the conversation toward the end of drafts.

Keeper-league target ... Bilal Powell, running back
When the Jets drafted Powell, we initially labeled him as a possible replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson in 2012. Well, it's 2012 and Tomlinson is retired. The Jets will obviously give Shonn Greene some generous opportunities to shoulder the run game but Powell is a candidate to fill in for Greene if he gets hurt or replace him if Greene can't deliver. Powell's numbers last year were nauseating -- he followed up a 2.2 rushing average in the preseason with a 1.6 rushing average over 13 regular-season carries. And he also missed some practice time with a hamstring injury this spring. This really isn't the momentum-building argument you'd want to read about a potential sleeper, but with Greene not doing much to elicit excitement and the Jets unlikely to give Greene all the carries, Powell is a candidate to get involved. If you can draft him cheap or trade for him cheaply in dynasty/keeper leagues, it's worth it.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
BUF @PIT @MIA SF HOU IND @NE MIA bye @SEA @STL NE ARI @JAC @TEN SD @BUF

If the Jets are going to stick to their ground game, they'll have very mixed results through their first six games thanks to games at the Steelers and vs. the 49ers and Texans. The good news is that once they're past that, the Jets won't face many stingy run defenses. Whether or not that helps Shonn Greene remains to be seen -- he's disappointed through much of his short career. They also face plenty of teams with quality safeties, which might impact how consistent Dustin Keller is over the season.

Training camp topics

Tebow, Tebow Tebow. Tebow Tebow Tebow. And Tebow.

And now with that out of the way ...

There have been plenty of headlines about Tony Sparano joining the Jets as an offensive coordinator following his dismissal as the head coach at Miami. It's no secret that Sparano prefers to run the football: In three of his four seasons in Miami, Sparano's offense was nearly 50-50 in run/pass ratio. And in three of those four years, Sparano's offense finished in the Top 12 in rushing. Reggie Bush and Ricky Williams each had 1,000-yard seasons under Sparano and Ronnie Brown would have gotten there in 2008 had he not shared carries with Williams. And in three of four years (2010 was really bad for Miami), the primary rusher has had at least six rushing touchdowns.

Year Rush rank Leading rusher Rush yards Rush TDs
2008 11th Ronnie Brown 917 10
2009 4th Ricky Williams 1,121 11
2010 21st Ronnie Brown 734 5
2011 11th Reggie Bush 1,086 6

Point is, there are no excuses for Greene not to get to 1,000 rush yards for the second straight year. Sparano should find himself relying on Greene early and often, especially with the passing game in its current state. Though defenses will likely key in on Greene and force Sanchez/Tebow to throw, he should still find a way to grind to at least his rushing totals of last year: 1,054 yards and six touchdowns. A breakout season isn't out of the question, either. He's OK as a No. 2 Fantasy running back so long as he earns his coach's trust in camp.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Shonn Greene 253 carries, 30 catches
LaDainian Tomlinson 75 carries, 42 catches
Dustin Keller 65 catches
Joe McKnight 43 carries, 13 catches
Santonio Holmes 51 catches, 3 carries

Sparano's tendencies might make things hard for the Jets' receivers, but it's not entirely clear who will play when anyway. Santonio Holmes is a given and Dustin Keller will see snaps too. Everything else is a crapshoot as the Jets added injury-riddled Chaz Schilens to their receiving corps and drafted Stephen Hill. They'll join Jeremy Kerley, Scotty McKnight and Patrick Turner as receivers on the roster. How that crew shakes out might be more interesting to Jets fans than Fantasy owners, though we certainly like Hill's upside.

There's even a kicking battle in New York as Josh Brown will face off against incumbent Nick Folk. Folk has made about 76 percent of his field goal attempts in two seasons with the Jets; Brown made fewer than 79 percent of his field goals for the first time in six seasons last year with the Rams. We'd bet a subway token on Brown getting the job but wouldn't draft either kicker. Whoever wins is a potential waiver-wire pickup during the season.

Obviously, the Jets will go nowhere this year if their defense can't perform. That starts with Darrelle Revis actually being at training camp -- he's contemplating a holdout with two years left on his contract. His presence is vital for the Jets to succeed since he can take away an opponent's top receiver, but it will be newcomers like rookie lineman Quinton Coples and safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry to help get this defense into elite status. Landry's status is up in the air as he battles numerous injuries; he's not promised a full season. Bell follows Sparano from Miami and should be a competent addition. If the pass rush is improved (35 sacks last year ranked 17th), they could be a dominant force. As it stands now the Jets are worth a late-round pickup but not a mid- to late-round reach. And if the defense disappoints and the Jets miss the playoffs, owner Woody Johnson might "guarantee" Rex Ryan a one-way ticket out of town.

Injury update

Stephen Hill (hamstring; probable for the start of training camp) ... LaRon Landry (groin, Achilles; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Jordan White (foot; questionable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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