Fantasy Football: Adam Gase's arrival should help Sam Darnold take off with the Jets
The long-stagnant Jets offense has potential to thrive now that Adam Gase will mesh with Sam Darnold in NYC.
It's not too often you see a fired head coach get hired by another team in the same offseason. It's even more rare to see it go down within the same division.
But the Jets took a chance, landing ex-Dolphins coach Adam Gase just days after he departed division-rival Miami. It keeps him in the AFC East, where he finished 2-4 against the Patriots and 3-3 against the Bills — and 5-1 against the Jets.
Not long ago, Gase was considered one of the brightest offensive minds in football. That's what got him hired with the Dolphins in the first place. But at no point in Miami did Gase get to pick his own quarterback, opting to co-sign on Ryan Tannehill. He obviously wasn't the guy who picked Sam Darnold, but the promising second-year player is easily the most talented quarterback to work with Gase since he helped Peyton Manning five years ago. It should make for an interesting marriage.
Here's a look at what to expect from Gase based on his tendencies from his last six years of playcalling in Denver (2013-14), Chicago (2015) and Miami (2016-18).
Aside from 2017, when Gase brought in Jay Cutler to replace an injured Ryan Tannehill, we've actually seen a consistent, not-too-aggressive approach to playcalling. Gase has definitely featured passing over rushing, right to the brink of the 60-40 ratio that might constitute a pass-heavy approach.
What might push Gase over the edge in New York is the ability and efficiency of Sam Darnold mixed with whatever he has at running back. Darnold finished last year strong, completing 64 percent of his passes at 7.5 yards per attempt with a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his final four games. If he takes to Gase's playbook and the Jets' run game goes unimproved this offseason (and their front seven goes equally unimproved), there's absolutely a chance the Jets throw more than 60 percent of the time.
Running back runs per game
It's hard to be encouraged by the direction of how frequently Gase's backs get fed. True, he called more runs in 2018 compared to 2017, but it didn't mean a rise in work for his backs because his Dolphins had fewer plays. Gase also manufactured one rusher with over 750 rush yards in Miami (Jay Ajayi, 1,272 in 2016) and two 1,000-rushing-yard backs in six years of playcalling (Ajayi and Knowshon Moreno, 1,038 in 2013). It's probably wise to fade Gase's run game unless he's got a three-down back he trusts to handle more than, say, 173 touches, which not-so-coincidentally Kenyan Drake had in 2018.
And here's why ...
We're always looking for playcallers who get their backs over 20 percent or more of their team's total receptions. I know it looks like Gase has hit that mark, but it's mainly because his running backs hauled in 26.4 percent of the Dolphins' receptions in 2018. The next closest year? That would be 2015 when Matt Forte caught 21 percent of the Bears' receptions. If you take out 2018, Gase's career numbers look more like this:
This is to say that running backs are involved, but not necessarily to great lengths. Only Drake and Moreno topped 50 catches under Gase in his six years of dialing up plays.
Gase's tight ends have been even worse. With the Broncos in 2013 (Julius Thomas) and Bears in 2015 (Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller), Gase utilized the tight end position fine. Otherwise, he's schemed away from the position, including in 2014 when he didn't draw up plays for Thomas in Denver a year after his break out. And Thomas had back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons!
Plenty of coaches smarten up and lean on great talent regardless of what position they play. Gase seems to be no different — if the Jets bring in a stud back or develop tight end Chris Herndon into a power house, they'll get a bunch of catches. But short of that, hope for a Jets running back to supplement his rushing numbers with receiving stats and hope for luck on a week of streaming with a Jets tight end.
The silver lining to this news is that receivers have long been a massive staple in Gase's offense. Jarvis Landry was a volume-dependent Fantasy hero in Miami, replaced by Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson in 2018 (85-966-5 combined). Kenny Stills also had plenty of big games in three years with the Fins. Chicago didn't have much in the way of receivers to help the offense in 2015 but the Broncos made the most out of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2013 and 2014 — though having Peyton Manning under center sure helped a lot.
The Jets' best receiver as of now is Robby Anderson, and you can be sure Gase will find ways to make him impactful. It only helps Anderson that he's developed a rapport with Darnold. Who the Jets use as their slot receiver also has a chance to make Fantasy managers happy — it should be Quincy Enunwa, who the team experimented with as an outside receiver in 2018 but didn't get much out of. He was more effective in the slot in 2016, perhaps he ends up there in 2019. We know he'll be a Jet — he signed a new contract with $20 million guaranteed in December.
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