2022 New York Jets Team Outlook
With high-stakes fantasy football legend Shawn Childs anchoring Sports Illustrated's fantasy coverage, we decided to give our take on Shawn's Team Outlooks. While we won't always agree, Shawn's pedigree speaks for itself. Shawn has been a high-stakes Fantasy Football legend since 2004 when he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). Childs has competed and won six-figures in all different formats – auctions, draft championships, main events, and high-dollar leagues. We dare you to find an expert who knows the NFL player pool better than Shawn Childs -- it can't be done!
Seemingly stuck in a never-ending cyble of mediocrity, Jets' fans faced some optimisim last year with No. 2 overll pick Zach Wilson. However, Wilson's unimpressive rookie campaign brought back pain for those long-suffering fans. New York has accumulated some impressive young talent on both sides of the ball but will need for Wilson to show significant and immediate improvements to escape the baement of the competitive AFC East. And for intriguing talents like Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, and Breece Hall to live up to their lofty fantasy expectations.
The Jets posted a losing season for the sixth consecutive year in 2021 (4-13), leading to them extending their streak of no playoff appearances to 11 seasons. Robert Saleh returns as their head coach after spending the previous four years as the defensive coordinator for the 49ers. He's been a coach in the NFL since 2005, giving him 17 years of experience. Saleh was part of the coaching staff in Seattle that won the Super Bowl in 2013. His defense for San Francisco in 2019 reached the championship game.
Mike LaFleur gets a second season to run the Jets' offense. He worked as the pass game coordinator for the 49ers from 2017 to 2020, after having success with the Falcons in 2015 and 2016 (offensive assistant). LaFleur has eight years of experience in the league.
New York has had one of the worst offenses in the league over the past six years. Over this span, they finished 26th, 28th, 29th, 32nd, 32nd, and 26th in offense yards while 276 (31st), 243 (32nd), and 310 (28th) points over the past three years. In addition, the Jets have been outscored by 408 points in 2020 and 2021 (12.4 points per game).
In his second season, Jeff Ulbrich has a lot to prove as the Jets' defensive coordinator. He played in the NFL for 10 seasons with the 49ers before starting his coaching career in Seattle in 2010. Over the previous six seasons before arriving in New York, Ulbrich worked in the Falcons' system as a linebacker coach, plus some duties as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
The Jets' defense ranked last in the league in points (504) and yards allowed.
New York signed CB D.J. Reed, S Jordan Whitehead, and DE Jacob Martin to upgrade their defense. S Marcus Maye underperformed last year due to an injured plagued season (torn Achilles), leading to him signing with the Saints. DT Folorunso Fatukasi moved on to the Jaguars after showing regression in his play. In addition, the Jets tried to improve their tight end depth by adding C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. They parted ways with WR Jamison Crowder (BUF) and Keelan Cole (FA). Their top addition by financial investment came on the offensive line (G Laken Tomlinson) after playing at a high level in run blocking for the 49ers over the past five seasons.
After selecting their first four players (CB Sauce Gardner – 1.4, WR Garrett Wilson – 1.10, DE Jermaine Johnson – 1.26, and RB Breece Hall – 2.4) in the 2022 NFL Draft, the chant of JETS, JETS, JETS increased in volume. New York added to the developing offense while also finding two talented players for their defense. They even invested in another tight end option (Jeremy Ruckert) with the 37th pick in the third round. With the final two choices in the fourth round, the Jets added T Max Mitchell and DE Michael Clemons.
New York slipped to 27th in rushing yards (1,667) while scoring 14 rushing touchdowns. They gained a respectable 4.4 yards per carry, but game score led to only a league-low 380 rushing attempts (22.4 per matchup).
The Jets climbed to 17th in passing yards (3,936) with 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Their offensive line allowed the fourth-most sacks (53) in the league.
This offensive line has two first-round draft picks – T Mekhi Becton (2020) and G Alijah Vera-Tucker (2021). When adding in G Laken Tomlinson, New York should have an edge at three positions, helping them push higher running the ball and protecting the quarterback. Becton missed the final 16 games in his sophomore season due to a knee injury. Overall, the Jets' offensive line should rank in the league's top third, helping their young quarterback reach his expected potential.
New York ran the ball 38.7 % of the time last season while attempting 104 more passes than in 2020 (499). They want to be a more balanced offense, which should happen with more competitive games. The Jets now have two exciting running backs with a developing receiving structure.
QB Zach Wilson, NYJ - Dynasty Only
After drafting Wilson with the second overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets awarded him with their starting job in Week 1. He battled his accuracy (57.3 %) and interceptions (9) over his first five starts before suffering a right knee injury in Week 7. As a result, Wilson missed four games while failing to be fantasy relevant over his seven matchups (1,166 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions). He did make some scoring plays in the run game (29/185/4 – 6.4 yards per carry). In the end, his completion rate (55.6) and yards per pass attempt (6.1) ranked poorly. Wilson also took 44 sacks, leading to a league-high 370 lost yards.
After two dull seasons at BYU (3,960 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions), Wilson burst onto the NFL map after an explosive junior year. He completed 73.5 percent of his passes for 3,692 yards while delivering 33 passing touchdowns and three interceptions. His most impressive stat may have been his 11.0 yards per pass attempt. In addition, Wilson became more active at the goal line (10 TDs) in the run game while gaining 254 yards on 70 carries.
His low output in 2019 was tied to his recovery from right shoulder surgery and a broken right thumb that also required surgery.
Fantasy Outlook: I still question the long-term viability of Wilson as the starting quarterback for the Jets. He has talent, but his resume of success is short. New York has an intriguing structure at wide receiver with complementary receiving help at tight end. This offensive line projects well, and the Jets look much improved at running back with the addition of Michael Carter and Breece Hall over the past two drafts. Nevertheless, Wilson will be a low-end QB2 in fantasy draft based on his early ranking (23rd) in the Fantasy Football World Championship. Worth a flier, but his results on the field will determine his fantasy playability. His next step points to 4,000 combined yards with about 25 scores.
UPDATE: Wilson was injured in the preseason and had surgery. At this point, he may miss Week 1. He's well off the redraft radar.
Other Options: Joe Flacco, Mike White
RB Michael Carter, NYJ - Bye Week Fill-in
Over 14 games in his rookie season, Carter gained 964 yards with four touchdowns and 36 catches on 183 touches. He graded better than expected in the passing game (36/325/0 – 9.0 yards per catch). However, Carter missed three weeks with an ankle issue while suffering a concussion in Week 17. His stock rose midseason over five games (509 combined yards with two touchdowns and 23 catches on 87 touches), highlighted by a dominating game vs. the Bengals in Week 8 (172 combined yards with a score and nine catches). He gained over 100 yards rushing in only one contest (16/118).
Carter worked as the change of pace back for the Tarheels. Over his final two seasons, he gained 2,669 yards with 16 touchdowns and 46 catches. He gained 8.0 yards per rush and 10.7 yards per catch in his senior year. At 5'8" and 200 lbs., Carter has a strong lower half while owning an edge in quickness. However, his top-end speed came in below expectation when adding in his build.
Fantasy Outlook: The Jets will give Carter 10 to 12 touches a game while working off the bench in most games. I don't see a progression in his role in the passing game, and he'll see the weaker split in chances at the goal line. Based on his ADP (62) in the high-stakes market before the 2022 NFL Draft, fantasy drafters didn't expect the Jets to add another back of the caliber of Breece Hall. As a result, I'm lowering his bar to 900 combined yards with about five scores and 25 catches, making him a mid-range RB3 in PPR formats.
Other Options: Ty Johnson
RB Breece Hall, NYJ - Solid/Safe Pick
Over the past two seasons at Iowa State, Hall worked as a three-down back, leading to 590 combined touches. He was a prolific scorer (46 touchdowns) with a high level of success in the run game (279/1,572/21 and 253/1,472/20). Last year, Hall set a career-high in catches (36), receiving yards (302), and receiving touchdowns (3) while gaining 8.4 yards per catch. He finished his career at Iowa State with 82 catches for 734 yards and six scores.
There is something to be said for a running back that runs with patience and vision. Hall will have some dull games with minimal running run, but he has an excellent feel for his blockers and a knack for getting defenders flat-footed in space. When Hall sees daylight at the second level of the defense, his motor kicks up a gear, leading to some long runs. He brings a nose for the goal line while having the hands and the feel for space in the passing game to push his catch total much higher in the NFL. Despite the look of a power-back, Hall does well to avoid hard hits in space. I expect him to wear down defenses, helping the Jets control the clock late in games when they have the lead.
Fantasy Outlook: New York did well to snatch Hall with the fourth pick in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He lands in a developing offense for a coach who wants to play good defense and pound the ball. His downside is that the Jets also added a competitive running back (Michael Carter) in 2021. I expect Hall to receive between 15 and 18 touches per game with a potential three-catch floor each week in the passing game. His pre-draft ADP in the NFFC came in at 42 as the 17th running back off the table. With 260 touches, he should deliver 1,300 combined yards with eight to 10 touchdowns and 50 possible catches. Hall looks fairly priced, but success in the preseason could lead to a spike in his ADP.
WR Garrett Wilson, NYJ - Bye Week Fill-in
In each season in college, Wilson improved his production in all areas. His freshman year ended with 30 catches for 432 yards and five scores. During the shortened Covid-19 season (eight games), he upped his stats to 43 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns while also gaining 67 yards on two runs. In 2021, Wilson played at his highest level over his final three starts (10/126/3, 7/126/2, and 10/119/1), leading to 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. He finished with four rushes for 76 yards and a score.
Wilson will bring a home run threat to an NFL team. His hands grade well, and he made many catches last season when the ball was off target. However, Wilson isn't quite there in his route running. He had a free release on many plays in 2021, leading to some long, uncontested catches. As the season moved on, Ohio State made an effort to get him the ball closer to the line of scrimmage to allow Wilson to create wins with his quickness. I don't expect him to break many tackles in traffic while being extremely dangerous in space. His next step is showing that he can beat physical defenders off the line of scrimmage.
Fantasy Outlook: Wilson has similar qualities to DeSean Jackson that will be highlighted in the deep passing game, slants, and crossing patterns. He is willing to work the middle of the field, but Wilson must avoid taking bad hits. His ADP (104) in the pre-NFL Draft season in the NFFC ranks him as the 40th wide receiver off the board. The Jets will use him as their WR3 this season, which allows him to see weaker coverage on some plays. My early projections for Wilson should come in at 50 catches for 750 yards and a handful of scores.
WR Corey Davis, NYJ - Bye Week Fill-in
Davis showed more explosiveness and consistency in 2020 after struggling to fulfill his expected value after getting drafted in the first round in 2017. He set career highs in receiving yards (984) and touchdowns (5) while matching his 2018 season in catches (65). Davis posted four impact games (7/101, 8/128/1, 11/182/1, and 4/110/1). He missed two games with a Covid issue. On the downside, Davis was shut out in three games on seven combined targets (one game was in the postseason). His catch rate (70.7) was the best of his career, along with his yards per catch (15.1).
Last year, Davis played well in two of his first four games with the Jets (5/97/2 and 4/111/1), leading to 24 catches for 349 yards and four touchdowns over his first six starts. Unfortunately, he missed eight of the next 11 games due to hip and groin issues.
Fantasy Outlook: Davis fits the WR1 status for the Jets, but he doesn't project as the wideout with the most chances in 2022. His size (6'3" and 210 lbs.) points to more scoring (Davis only has 15 touchdowns over 65 games) if the Jets receive better quarterback play. I only see 60 catches for 900 yards with a bump to about seven scores. His ADP (154) in the NFFC priced Davis as a backend WR5 in PPR leagues, making him a value play in fantasy leagues.
WR Elijah Moore, NYJ - Solid/Safe Pick
New York gave Moore minimal chances over his first six games (15/146 on 32 targets), with most of his action coming with Zach Wilson at quarterback. Over the next six weeks, with Mike White and Joe Flacco making five starts, he turned into a starting fantasy player (34/459/5 on 51 targets), highlighted by three games (7/84/2, 8/141/1, and 6/77/1). Unfortunately, his season ended in Week 14 with a quad issue.
The Jets caught a break when the speedy WR Elijah Moore made it back to them in the second round min 2021. He projects as a slot receiver with the ability to test a defense in the deep passing game. Moore will be a zone buster while possibly struggling against physical corners in tight coverage. His release looks favorable with the hands to win in close quarters. Moore continues to improve while offering a sneaky ceiling. His reported 40-yard time (sub 4.40) put him in the game with the top receivers in this year's draft.
Fantasy Outlook: With a healthy season, Moore looks poised to push his catch total to 90 passes with 1,100 yards and six to eight touchdowns. He ranks 21st at wide receiver in the high-stakes market in early May with an ADP of 61. The bottom line in his projection is how much a fantasy drafter trusts Zach Wilson.