Chicago Bears: Marshall Out, McPhee In. Now What?

Ryan Pace has made his first personnel moves to kick off his tenure as Chicago Bears GM.

It began with the trade of Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick.

Brandon Marshall vs. Vikes

In just 3 seasons with the Bears, Marshall ranked 11th for receiving yards (3,524) in Bears history, tied for 5th in touchdowns (31) and 8th in receptions (279). However, following an injury plagued 2014 season and accumulating off-field issues, Pace and new head coach felt it best to part ways with the former pro bowl receiver. The reception of this move has been polarizing among the team’s fan base, but the bottom line is that the Bears received compensation for an almost 31 year old wide receiver (Birthday – March 23rd) coming off multiple injuries and declining athleticism that they planned on releasing anyway. Marshall has also openly voiced how football is more of a platform than a passion, so at least he won’t have to fly cross country to record his weekly Showtime appearance. 5th round picks are no slouches either…unless you consider Carl Nicks, Richard Sherman, or Kam Chancellor as such.

The second big move came today as the Baltimore Sun reported that the Bears and OLB/DE Pernell McPhee have agreed to a 5-year/$40 million deal with $16 million guaranteed…also a 5th round pick.

Pernell McPhee

McPhee isn’t as sexy a name as Julius Peppers was when Lovie Smith rang his doorbell at midnight of the 2010 Free Agency start. McPhee’s skill set and versatility are VERY sexy though. Just 26 years old, McPhee is a pure pass rusher with experience as a defensive end and outside linebacker in Baltimore’s 3-4 system. He has also played end in a 40 front. McPhee has dealt with injuries to both his knees, but played in every game during the past 2 seasons. He recorded 7.5 sacks in 2014 while spelling for pro bowler Terrell Suggs, who was nursing an achilles injury.

The McPhee signing does 3 things:

1. It provides flexibility in the draft. The Bears needed an edge rusher and now they have one. A proven one. They put themselves in a position where they don’t have to draft a “need” but instead the best available player with 7th overall pick. That could be Alabama WR Amari Cooper. Bears could use another top-end pass catching talent. It could be Clemson’s DE/OLB Vic Beasley. You can’t have enough weapons to go after the quarterback on the field.

2. It gives new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio options in his unpredictable defense. McPhee has played every technique on the defensive line. He has stood up to rush the edge. He’ll even rush from the middle on 3rd down from a “chaos” look that you see with multiple 3-4 schemes. And chaos is good…That also opens things up for Fangio to assign positions to unknowns currently on the roster like Willie Young, Jared Allen, and Lamarr Houston.

3. It sets the tone for the type of players the Bears are looking for. The defense is in dyer need of a makeover. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, both Chicago Bears all-timers, are on the outs due to age and recent injury history. The average age for defensive starters was 29 while more than half were 30+ years old. The 26 year old McPhee adds youth, but also has a recent Super Bowl ring as part of his resume from 2012. There are other free agents with winning experience who would also fit the needs of the Bears roster.

What’s Next? 

The new NFL year and free agency officially begins today at 3:00 PM CT. Teams had already struck deals with high target players over the weekend.

DT Ndamukong Suh to Miami (6 years $114 million, $60 million guaranteed)

S Devin McCourty stays with New England (5 years $47.5 million, $28.5 million guaranteed)

WR Randall Cobb stays with Green Bay (4 years $40 million, $17 million guaranteed)

WR Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City (Total and years aren’t confirmed, suspected $11 million per year)

TE Julius Thomas to Jacksonville (Expected multi-year deal, $9 million per year)

C Rodney Hudson to Oakland (5 years $44.5 million, guaranteed money hasn’t been confirmed)

Note: Guaranteed money is key with NFL contracts. Rarely does anyone make their entire contract total.

So let’s look at the Bears’ needs and the targets to address them.

Defensive Line

While McPhee can be plugged in as a 5 technique DE, and one would assume Lamarr Houston would fit at the other side, the Bears still need a space eater in the middle to play nose tackle.

Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton – Former Broncos NT under Fox, stellar run defender. Interest from Raiders, Colts, Washington, and the Bears

Dan Williams – Cardinals DT who didn’t get enough playing time. Ranked 8th vs the run by Pro Football Focus. Interest from Giants, Lions, and Washington

Corey Peters – Falcons DT and 5 year veteran. Rebounded well after achilles injury.

Kenrick Ellis – Jets NT. Great 2 down run stopper.

Vince Wilfork – Patriots NT, 5-time pro bowler and proven winner with plenty and knowledge to share. Devin McCourty is trying hard to get him back.

Wilfork GIF

Inside Linebackers

In Fangio’s 3-4 scheme, there are two ILBs…one being the “Mike” (middle) linebacker and the other being the “Jack” backer who lines up weak side of the line. Opponents’ run games will be funneled inside for the most part and while the NT eats up space and OL, the ILBs will be responsible for finishing the plays tackling.

Bruce Carter – Cowboys LB who filled carried a lot of weight with Sean Lee out. Aggressive and uber-athletic. Would be a huge steal away from the Packers who are targeting him.

Brandon Spikes – Former Bills defensive captain yet was treated like a 2 down defender under Jim Schwartz. While he may be on back end of career, provides the violent thump a Fangio LB needs.

Mason Foster – Buccaneers LB who doesn’t fit in Lovie’s Cover 2, but is better built to take on anything funneled to the middle. Bears already linked to Foster.

Nate Irving – Broncos LB that Fox is obviously familiar with but coming off a knee injury. Still in high demand and being pursued by Cardinals. Powerful and prototype for 3-4 ILB.

Nate Irving INT

Cornerbacks

While the Bears do have Kyle Fuller and former pro bowler Tim Jennings, they weren’t all that great with them after the first month. Health reasons have proven you can’t have too many, and Jennings may be better suited for the nickel as he gets older.

Davon House – Packers CB expected not to return, well versed in Fangio’s system as the he was DC for Dom Capers previously. Excelled as slot defensive back last season.

Perrish Cox – 49ers CB who has off-field issues but obviously experienced with Fangio. Great instincts in coverage and reading receivers hips. Doesn’t allow much spacing.

Darrelle Revis – Obviously a big fish to catch in a small pond, but come on…Revis Island.

Darrelle Revis

Safeties

A glaring need for years with the Bears defense, the Bears already missed out on my first choice, Devin McCourty. Don’t necessarily need a playmaker but someone who is at least dependable.

Rahim Moore – Another former Fox defender who was very solid in 2014. Not as flashy as Earl Thomas but fits the “dependable” mold that would make the Bears comfortable.

Antrel Rolle – Giants safety that Bears are linked to. Very vocal about being reunited with University of Miami teammates Andre Johnson and Wilfork. Wouldn’t necessarily rule that out for Bears.

Da’Norris Searcy – Bills safety with run-stop and coverage skills. Young and wasn’t really an every down player, but certainly looked the part.

Mike Adams – Colts safety who does a solid job. Older player but could fit for a year or two and get it done.

Mike Adams

Wide Receiver

Obviously there’s an opening for another split out receiver after the Marshall trade. As mentioned earlier, drafting one is a likely possibility but why not add someone with experience. The preference for the Bears would be a speedster, somebody who can take the top off a defense. They didn’t have that guy last season and it made the Jay Cutler led offense predictable. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery weren’t burning past anybody for a much needed deep threat. But anyone with dependable hands would also do…before the draft.

Torrey Smith – Ravens receiver who has proven to be a risk/reward option for the past few years. Has dropping issues but can certainly stretch the field though and compliment Jeffery well.

Andre Johnson – Very similar career as Marshall production-wise, without the baggage. Doesn’t fit the burner mold but super dependable route runner. I’d blame his lack of touchdowns on his quarterbacks more than him.

Michael Crabtree – Former Heisman candidate that has shown promise but hasn’t met the ridiculous standards we all set for him. Change in scenery and pairing with Jeffery and Martellus Bennett could help him breakout.

Michael Crabtree

Running Backs

The Bears do have Matt Forte, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to start looking beyond the pro bowl “everything” back. Forte will be in the last year of his deal and at the very least will need a backup this season. Bears look to be very run-heavy this coming season, so a 2-back system would be beneficial to not go overkill with Forte touches.

Ryan Matthews – Chargers RB that has had difficulty staying on the field, but solid power runner when given opportunities. Not sure how much Matthews will garner on the market, but would make a great compliment to Forte and can make it an audition to take over after his contract is up.

CJ Spiller – Very similar situation to Matthews in terms of injury history and needing an audition, but a much better pass catcher and versatile offensive weapon. Spiller is also no stranger to the 2 back system.

Knowshon Moreno – Another back with injury history that could also be affordable because of that. Made his money with Dolphins after playing in Adam Gase’s RB-by-committe system and obviously familiar with Fox.

Knowshon Moreno

Of course there are more needs and other options the Bears could go with. Feel free to recommend your suggestions and follow along the Free Agency action with me on Twitter

Fantasy Football Preview: AFC East

If there is one thing you can say about the AFC East, they know how to make headlines. Whether it’s bullying and abuse by teammates in Miami, Bon Jovi and Donald Trump vying for ownership in Buffalo, Rex Ryan saying something stupid in New York (but really New Jersey), or Tom Brady…being Tom Brady…it’s a division that gets people talking.

On the football field though, it’s been all Patriots. Since Bill Belichick took over in 2000, they have won the division 11 times (in 13 years). The rest of the division will try to prevent New England from winning their sixth straight division title in 2014, but we’re more concerned with who will make your fantasy team better.

 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills haven’t had a winning season since 2004 and they have finished 6-10 each of the last 3 seasons. Second year head coach Doug Marrone’s squad ranked 2nd in rushing last season, 2nd in defensive interceptions, and 4th against passing, but struggled mightily to put points on the board. The Bills hope to change that with their new receiver additions and keeping EJ Manuel healthy. Good luck, Buffalo.

 

QB EJ Manuel

11 TD/9 INT, 1,972 pass yards, 186 rush yards 2 rush TD in 2013 (10 games)

Many were surprised when the Bills chose EJ Manuel before any quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft. Going 16th overall, the Florida State quarterback was the ONLY one at his position selected in the first round. Those who followed Manuel in college weren’t surprised based on his combination of size, speed, and arm strength, but knee injuries and accuracy issues still plagued him in his rookie season. The Bills run a no-huddle offense (much like Philadelphia’s) that is dependent on the running game and quick hitting passes downfield. Manuel has two new talented receivers in rookie Sammy Watkins and former Buccaneer Mike Williams to make it work. Watkins and Williams have bigger catch radiuses that should help Manuel execute, as long as he stays healthy.

Recommendation: You hope a full offseason gave Manuel time to work on his accuracy but I’m more concerned with his knee injuries. He’ll have a chance to dispel that concern, but let him do that on the waiver wire. If you have a deep bench, MAYBE pick him in the last round.

 

RB CJ Spiller

933 rush yards, 2 TD / 33 rec, 185 rec yards, 0 TD in 2013

CJ Spiller led the league’s 2nd best running team in yardage but struggled to find the end zone. That has been the story for the 9th overall pick from 2010 in his Buffalo tenure. Being great between the 20’s doesn’t necessarily translate to points for a player, but sometimes does for someone else in the backfield (see Fred Jackson next down). Spiller, while still playing 15 games, also dealt with an ankle injury that could have been a cause for his drop in production from 2012 (1,244 rush yards, 6 TDs, 43 rec, 459 rec yards). He only had 5 less carries but averaged 4.6 yards per as opposed to 6.0. On top of the motivation for 2014 being a contract year, Spiller can benefit from the addition of Watkins to stretch the field and take pressure off the front for him to run on. Spiller also likes the Bills’ added running back depth of Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon to ease his workload.

Recommendation: Have you learned your lesson yet, sports fans? Every year, Spiller’s potential gets him over-drafted in most leagues. DON’T DRAFT ON POTENTIAL. Spiller’s ceiling has always been high but how often has he reached that in 4 seasons? He is a solid RB2 for his value and should go in middle rounds.

 

RB Fred Jackson

890 rush yards, 9 TD / 47 rec, 387 rec yards 1 TD

The veteran running back out of Coe College goes into his 8th season with a new contract extension, which he signed right before training camp. Despite dealing with a knee injury, Jackson played in all 16 games and gained 1,277 yards from scrimmage, his 3rd best total of his career. Jackson’s 10 touchdowns made him Buffalo’s only real scoring threat in 2013. He’ll still split carries with Spiller but the extension shows that the Bills are committed to the 33-year old back and expect Jackson to be just as reliable.

Recommendation: Jackson is traditionally a solid waiver wire pickup for Fantasy owners. While his total production was better than Spiller’s last year, Spiller is still the #1 back. The potentially improved passing game is also more beneficial to Splitter. Jackson is better served to round out your draft.

 

WR Sammy Watkins

101 rec, 1,464 rec yards, 12 TD at Clemson in 2013*

The Bills went all in trading for Sammy Watkins. To select him 4th overall, Buffalo dealt their 9th overall pick in 2014 and their 1st and 4th round picks in 2015. Will Watkins be the difference that makes Marrone’s offense work? Since the NFL merger (the beginning of the Super Bowl era), just 12 rookie receivers have gained over 1,000 yards and only 5 scored 10+ touchdowns. If Manuel can lead him consistently, if defenses are zeroed in on Spiller, and if Mike Williams can draw coverage, Watkins can do it…That’s only 3 of the Ifs right there.

Recommendation: Watkins has the potential to be a very special player in the NFL. But again, DON’T DRAFT ON POTENTIAL. A lot of his success is going to depend on what his quarterback can do. If you have your heart set on Watkins, take him late. (Note: I drafted Alshon Jeffery with my last pick and we saw how that worked out, right?)

Waiver Watch:

RB Bryce Brown 

WR Mike Williams

WR Robert Woods

TE Scott Chandler

 

Miami Dolphins

Is there a seat hotter in the NFL than head coach Joe Philbin’s? Rex Ryan, maybe, but he has too much “cushion” to feel it. We’ve exhausted the bullying narrative enough and how irresponsible Philbin was handling it, so let’s focus on football. The Dolphins finished 8-8 last season and then replaced offensive coordinator Mike Sherman with Eagles QB coach Bill Lazor to improve the 7th worst scoring team in 2013. In order for the Dolphins to get better, they’ll probably want to keep their starting quarterback off his butt.

 

QB Ryan Tannehill

24 TD/17 INT, 3,913 pass yards, 238 rush yards 1 TD in 2013.

The 2012 draft is always talked about as the one that produced Andrew Luck, Robert Griffen III, and Russell Wilson. Often overlooked is Ryan Tannehill, who was selected 8th overall out of Texas A&M. Tannehill also threw for more yards than any of the quarterbacks mentioned previously in 2013, and more touchdowns than both Luck and Griffen. Tannehill doubled his touchdown pass total from his rookie year, but was sacked more than anyone in the league (58) and by a lot. His new OC, Lazor, has brought the Chip Kelly system to Miami. That means faster tempo, quicker passes, and more athletic linemen to keep Tannehill protected. But it will really depend on the rest of his teammates buying into the new system.

Recommendation: Tannehill is a solid QB2 for your roster. He’s going very under the radar so you should be able to get him late.

 

RBs Knowshon Moreno & Lamar Miller

Moreno: 1,038 rush yards, 10 TD / 60 rec, 548 rec yards, 3 TD in 2013

Miller: 709 rush yards, 2 TD/ 26 rec, 170 rec yards

Knowshon Moreno BROKE OUT in 2013. In his 5th season, Moreno ranked 4th among running backs in rushing touchdowns (tied with Adrian Peterson) and accumulated 1,586 total yards from scrimmage. How much of that success, though, was thanks to Peyton Manning? The Broncos were the highest scoring team in the NFL, got in the end zone early and often, forced defenses into pass coverage, and then would hand it off to the running back for the rest of the way. Regardless, the Dolphins thought highly enough of Moreno to sign him in hopes he would improve a running game that ranked near the bottom in 2013. Many assumed Moreno was already penciled in as the starting running back. Not Lamar Miller.

Miller took the signing as a challenge and has proven so in offseason workouts and camp. Moreno has been dealing with a hamstring injury and Miller has seized the opportunity. The former Miami Hurricane rushed for 709 yards in his sophomore season last year, but sees himself putting up LeSean McCoy-like numbers in the new system…or is trying to shape his game that way. While Miller ran for more than 60 yards 8 times last season, he was held under 10 yards 4 times. McCoy never rushed for less than 38 in 2013.

Recommendation: People will overdraft for Moreno. Don’t be one of them. Competition at a position is great for a team, but not necessarily for Fantasy. Since Moreno has proven it, he can be an RB2 but keep an eye out for Miller for that “McCoy potential”. Draft him late.

 

WR Mike Wallace

73 rec, 930 rec yards, 5 TD in 2013

Mike Wallace was supposed to be the big free agent addition for the Dolphins last year. He may be poised to be better utilized in 2014. Wallace seems to have bought into Lazor’s system and is being moved all over the field to put him and the team in the best position to succeed, much like how DeSean Jackson was used by the Eagles in 2013. It will be interesting to see how that game planning will effect fellow receiver Brian Hartline, who had much of the same production as Wallace a year ago.

Recommendation: Will Wallace be Lazor’s D-Jax? He could, but don’t draft him high without knowing for sure. Pick Wallace in the mid-late rounds. He could at least be a strong flex.

 

TE Charles Clay

69 rec, 759 rec yards, 6 TD

The converted fullback emerged as a Top 10 tight end in 2013. Charles Clay was listed 2nd on the Dolphins depth chart before Dustin Keller’s preseason knee injury. Then he caught 10 passes for 163 yards in the first two weeks of the regular season and never looked back. Clay ranked 7th among TEs in receptions, 9th in yards, and 8th in touchdowns. Unfortunately Clay has missed most of the preseason due to a knee injury, but says he’ll be ready to go by the season opener.

Recommendation: After the top end scoring tight ends come off the board, there’s a significant drop off in fantasy scoring. You can wait till mid-late rounds to draft Clay.

 

Waiver Watch

WR Brian Hartline

RB/WR/KR Marcus Thigpen

TE Dion Simms

 

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick is looking for his 12th divisional championship in his Patriots tenure. Belichick has also NEVER cared about your fantasy stats. If you’ve ever had a Patriots running back on your team, you know this. The Patriots ranked 3rd in scoring last year, 7th in offensive yardage, and 8th in turnover ratio (+9). The production is there, but the question will be where it comes from.

 

QB Tom Brady

25 TD/11 INT, 4,343 pass yards in 2013

Tom Brady saw a decline in his numbers last season after throwing 34+ touchdowns each of the previous 3. The 37 year-old 9-time pro bowl quarterback was inconsistent week-to-week when it came to scoring for fantasy owners. Brady could go blank in the TD category against the Jets one week, and then throw 4 against the Steelers. Some blame Brady’s age and arm strength. Others blame the lack of talent and experience supporting him. Belichick’s commitment to the running game had a lot to do with it as well. In the final two weeks (your post season), fantasy owners had to look elsewhere for quarterbacks because all Brady was doing was handing off to his running backs. Brady could bounce back having a full year with his young receivers, and if Gronk and Amendola stay healthy…which is no sure thing. But one thing is; Brady still wins games. He had 5 comeback wins in the 4th quarter in 2014, 3 of which came in row weeks 11-13 (7 TD/2 INT, avg. 101.3 QB rating)

Recommendation: Brady is still a winner and a franchise quarterback, but he isn’t a top 5 Fantasy QB. Because there are so many questions of where the production will come from for New England this season, don’t take him until the Top 5 QBs come off the board.

 

RB Stevan Ridley

773 rush yards, 7 TD / 10 rec, 62 rec yards 0 TD

Stevan Ridley seemed to break out in 2012, running for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also stood out as THE guy in the backfield getting 290 carries, nearly 100 more than Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, and Brandon Bolden combined. After issues securing the ball arose, Ridley saw his playing time, carries, and yardage split with LeGarrette Blount. Blount is now backing up Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh, but Ridley isn’t in the clear at all when it comes to the Patriots depth chart. He caught a case of the fumbles in the recent preseason game against the Eagles, and 4th round pick James White out of Wisconsin is showing potential of being an all-around starting back. That is the other knock on Ridley’s game. He isn’t a dependable pass catcher like White can be and like Vereen has been in the Patriots system. In limited action, Vereen caught 47 passes for 427 yards last season.

Recommendation: Whoever is in the backfield for Tom Brady in the red zone has a great chance of scoring. The theme though may be Men at Work’s “Who Can It Be Now?” If you intend to draft Ridley, make him your flex with RB2 potential. White may be someone worth looking at to close out your draft.

 

WR Julian Edelman

105 rec 1,056 rec yards, 6 TD, 374 return yards in 2013

If one thing is clear going into the 2014 season, I think it’s that Julian Edelman is Tom Brady’s guy. With the departure of Wes Welker, Edelman reaped all the benefits playing in all 16 games and ranking 4th in receptions among receivers. With rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson unable to catch the ball early on and Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski injured, Edelman HAD to be the guy. His returning skills also add a dynamic that set him apart as a Fantasy option. With the addition of former Panthers WR Brandon LaFell and the returns of Gronk and Amendola, Edelman may see less targets, but can you depend on the latter two to stay healthy?

Recommendation: While I don’t think Edelman is as polished a receiver or as dependable as Welker, I do think he is Brady’s security blanket…especially in quick hitting no-huddle drives. Edelman may not be the big time scoring threat, but he will get the catches in between the 20’s. He’s graduated from a waiver wire watch to a WR2 for your roster.

 

TE Rob Gronkowski

39 rec, 4 TD, 592 yards in 2013 (7 games played)

Rob Gronkowski started playing in full team drills for the first time this week after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL January 9th. Gronkowski had been held out of contact drills until now, but plans to play in all 16 games this season. The last time Gronk played a full season (2011,) he led the league in touchdown receptions with 17. Before 2013, he recorded at least 10 touchdowns in each season of his career. Even when Gronk was limited to 11 games in 2012, he scored 11 touchdowns. When right, Gronk is one of the best red zone options in the game. That, plus his injury history, should make anyone cautiously optimistic in 2014.

Recommendation: The injury history does scare me with Gronkowski but then I look at those 2011 numbers. I don’t think he’s going to go for 1,300 yards again but Gronk is a viable option after Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, and Julius Thomas. Just be sure you draft a solid backup for him.

 

Waiver Watch:

RB James White

RB Shane Vereen

WR Danny Amendola

WR Brandon LaFell

WR Kenbrell Thompkins

TE Michael Hoomanwanui

 

New York Jets

Before the two tenants of MetLife Stadium meet for their annual preseason game, rookie running back Andre Williams told New York writers, “I think the Giants are the real New York team.” You wouldn’t think a head coach going into his 6th season would take the comments of another team’s newly drafted 4th round pick to heart, but of course Ryan did. “Last time I saw him he was getting smoked by Clemson,” Ryan responded. “I have a funny feeling he’s going to get some Riddells [helmets] on him.” Almost as thin as Ryan’s skin was the Jets offense last season that ranked nearly last in scoring.

 

QB Geno Smith

12 TD/21 INT, 3,046 pass yards, 366 rush yards, 6 rush TDs in 2013

Geno Smith didn’t have the smoothest rookie season starting all 16 games in 2013. He did, however, win the final 3 to get the Jets to .500 for the season. Smith did so by utilizing his mobility, averaging 6 yards per carry and scoring 3 touchdowns on the ground in the last quarter of the season. Smith looks to improve his passing game still after throwing multiple interceptions in 7 games last season. Michael Vick was brought in for competition and for having history with Jets OC Marty Mornhinweg (formerly of Philadelphia), but Smith seems to have locked down the starting role for New York.

Recommendation: I don’t expect Geno Smith to be drafted in most leagues, but keep an eye on his progress during his sophomore season. If QBs starting going down, Smith could be in demand.

 

RB Chris Johnson

1,077 rush yards, 6 TD / 42 rec, 345 rec yards, 4 TD in 2013

After 6 seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Chris Johnson needed a change in scenery. The 3-time pro bowler and one time 2,000 yard rusher joins a running back group that ranked 6th on the ground last season. He blames the decline in his production on the way he was handled the last two seasons saying the Titans offense was “too predictable.” Johnson, who has home run ability, won’t be doing all the heavy lifting in New York as they do plan to use a running back-by-committee strategy. The hot back out of Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell will be the one who plays more in Mornhinweg’s system.

Recommendation: The committee strategy is an annoying one for fantasy owners. Johnson is the back with some hardware and game changing ability, so he should be the first of the Jets RBs to go…but not until late.

 

WR Eric Decker

87 rec, 1,288 yards, 11 TD in 2013

There is no doubt Eric Decker’s best seasons had something to do with Peyton Manning being his quarterback. His production nearly doubled when he started hearing “Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a talented receiver. The Jets signed Decker to be their #1 option for Geno Smith to throw to, but he has dealt with injuries during camp that have kept him out of practice. Decker is confident he’ll be fine for the season health-wise, but two questions linger. Will his new young quarterback be able to get him the ball? And will the other receivers draw double coverage away from him like his teammates in Denver did?

Recommendation: I really don’t have a lot of faith in the Jets’ passing game. And as mentioned prior, there was a much more talented corps in Denver that helped Decker get open. He is still the best option downfield for Smith, and is more valuable to be drafted in later rounds, low end WR2/Flex option.

Waiver Watch:

QB Michael Vick

RB Chris Ivory

RB Bilal Powell

WR David Nelson

TE Jeff Cumberland