Monday, August 15, 2022

2022 Jets Fantasy Football Preview: Zach Wilson ready to take a step forward?

After overhauling the coaching staff and drafting a top-ranked QB last offseason, the Jets are betting on internal improvement to ferry them forward. They’ve got a lot of work to do but also some intriguing young pieces, for sure. Year 1 is a key one for young quarterbacks, and expectations for Zach Wilson are high, but so is the pressure. 

2021 Review

Record: 4-13 (28)

PPG: 18.2 (28)

YPG: 306.4 (26)

Pass YPG: 208.3 (20)

Rush YPG: 98.1 (27)

PAPG: 35.5 (13)

RAPG: 22.4 (32)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Zach Wilson QB30

RB: Michael Carter RB29, Ty Johnson RB45

WR: Elijah Moore WR50, Braxton Berrios WR60, Jamison Crowder* WR68, Corey Davis WR69

TE: Ryan Griffin* TE39

*No longer with team

Number to know: 79.1

Wilson was thrown into the fire on a bad team and had the highest pressure rate of any quarterback as well, at 30.6%. The degree of difficulty was quite high for a first-time starter in the NFL. However, his passer rating on players where he wasn’t pressured was just 79.1, the worst mark in the NFL. Even with a comparatively clean pocket, Wilson struggled, which isn’t a great sign. You can’t blame this all on his situation.  

Wilson wasn’t great when he was pressured, obviously, but I was often impressed by his ability and willingness to keep his head up while evading the rush and keeping his eyes downfield. There’s potential here for Wilson to make plays when things break down, but he needs to be better within the scheme of the offense for that to matter more than on the margins. 

Health from the players around him would surely help. The Jets lost left tackle Mekhi Becton in Week 1, while Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Jamison Crowder all missed at least five games from his receiving corps; all in all, the Jets lost more games to injury than any other team in the league in 2021. They’ll probably have better luck with health in 2022, so they should get a better sense of what Wilson can do. They’ve put some really strong weapons around him — WR Garrett Wilson was the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft and Breece Hall was the first running back selected as well — so Wilson needs to be much better to take advantage. 

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

1. (4) Ahmad Gardner, CB

1. (10) Garrett Wilson, WR

1. (26) Jermaine Johnson, LB

2. (36) Breece Hall, RB

3. (101) Jeremy Ruckert, TE

4. (111) Max Mitchell, T

4. (117) Micheal Clemons, DT

Additions

CB D.J. Reed, TE C.J. Uzomah, OL Laken Tomlinson, TE Tyler Conklin, S Jordan Whitehead, DE Jacob Martin

Key Departures

DL Folorunso Fatukasi, S Marcus Maye, OL Morgan Moses, WR Jamison Crowder, TE Ryan Griffin, OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

Available Opportunity 

0 carries, 1 RB targets, 123 WR targets, 25 TE targets 

2022 Preview

Rankings

Chris Towers’ projections

QB Zach Wilson PA: 597, YD: 4122, TD: 23, INT: 15; RUSH — ATT: 40, YD: 182, TD: 1
RB Breece Hall CAR: 263, YD: 1050, TD: 8, TAR: 24, REC: 18, YD: 134, TD: 1
RB Michael Carter CAR: 101, YD: 434, TD: 3, TAR: 48, REC: 36, YD: 306, TD: 1
WR Corey Davis TAR: 120, REC: 66, YD: 822, TD: 5
WR Elijah Moore TAR: 110, REC: 77, YD: 812, TD: 6
WR Garrett Wilson TAR: 110, REC: 66, YD: 852, TD: 6
TE C.J. Uzomah TAR: 60, REC: 47, YD: 475, TD: 2

Biggest Question

Can Zach Wilson take a big step forward?

Between Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis at WR and Breece Hall and Michael Carter at RB, the Jets have a seemingly solid foundation at the skill positions. Sure, they probably need some seasoning, but as far as young cores go, it’s a good one. But Wilson was outplayed as a rookie by journeymen like Mike White, Josh Johnson, and Joe Flacco, which is a pretty bad sign. All indications are the Jets still believe in the 23-year-old, but based on what we saw as a rookie, he’s not ready to elevate this offense. Proceed with caution.

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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

This is suddenly a pretty crowded receiving corps, and Davis is clearly the least exciting among the group as an older receiver  with a mostly middling track record in the NFL. However, he proved to have a good connection with Wilson last season, and his per-game production looks better if you take out the game he left early with an injury — he was on pace for 68 catches, 1,014 yards, and eight touchdowns in his other eight games. If you’re looking for big upside, Moore and Wilson are the guys to look for, but Davis could be a solid, reliable weekly option if Moore and Wilson don’t develop as quickly as expected. 

That being said, I’m quite excited about Moore’s chances of having a big season. Obviously, he’ll need Wilson to play better to get there, but Moore was really starting to figure things out after getting off to a slow start thanks to injuries dating back to training camp. He had just 79 yards through Week 7, but he put together a six-catch, 67-yard showing in Week 8 and his pace from that point on was 144 targets, 96 catches, 1,300 yards, and 14 touchdowns. It’s worth noting that Wilson missed four of those games, including the biggest, his eight-catch, 144-yard showing against the Dolphins in Week 11, so Moore’s hopes are tied to Wilson taking a step forward. But he earned relentless praise and comps to Antonio Brown throughout his rookie offseason, and I still think he can be the No. 1 target on this team even with the addition of Wilson. 

Of course, if Wilson doesn’t take that step we’re hoping for, this offense is probably going to be pretty mediocre, and that’s not a great sign for Hall. He’s likely to be the lead back for the Jets, but whether that means he is a three-down back right away remains to be seen — Michael Carter looked good enough as a rookie to think he’ll still have a role. So Hall could find himself in a timeshare in a bad offense, with a quarterback who threw just 67 passes to his top three backs last season. It’s not at all out of the question that Hall could be a must-start Fantasy RB, but I’m not going to draft him like one. In fact, given his standing as RB17 with an early-fourth-round ADP right now, I’m probably not going to end up drafting him at all. 

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