QB Mark Sanchez
Sanchez has had an interesting two-year run as the Jets’ starting quarterback. Since being taken with the fifth pick in the 2009 draft, he has led the jets to the AFC Championship Game twice, losing both times. Despite that success, he hasn’t received the acclaim one would expect from such a successful start to his career. On the fantasy side, Sanchez improved from the 23rd-ranked quarterback in 2009 to 18th last season, a tidy five-place jump. Nonetheless, that’s still backup status, and there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that another significant jump is in the cards for 2011. The Jets are a run-first team that features a quality group of receivers and a good pass-catching tight end in Dustin Keller. The offensive philosophy is based on taking few risks and not turning the ball over. While Sanchez improved his yardage total from 2,444 to 3,291 and his passing touchdowns from 13 to 17, his outlook for 2011 remains that of a fantasy backup.
RB Shonn Greene
With Thomas Jones out of the picture and LaDainian Tomlinson expected to assume the role of a third-down specialist and change-of-pace back, much was expected of Greene last year. And he flopped. Big time. Greene was drafted in some leagues as a low-end RB1 with upside, but he finished as the 37th-ranked running back in leagues with standard scoring. Removing running backs who can’t blame their poor production on injuries, Greene was likely the biggest fantasy bust at the position in 2010. But 2011 is a new year and a time for redemption. Tomlinson is a year older and Joe McKnight was so bad as a rookie last year that the Jets drafted Bilal Powell in the fourth round to challenge him. Greene figures to take over as the starter—if not on opening day, then sometime in 2011—and there is a strong possibility he will have a solid fantasy season. The team’s offensive line remains perhaps the best run-blocking unit in the league, and the offensive philosophy will be based heavily on the run. If Greene opens the season as the team’s starter, he figures to be a low-end RB1. If not, draft him as a RB2, but one with considerable upside if he can win the starting job by mid-season.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Well, I told you last year “those of you out there looking for a return to glory for LT in New York, you can think again.” And this year, I’m telling those of you out there expecting a repeat of last year’s return to glory, you can think again. LT was great last season, having a renaissance year with 914 rushing yards, a healthy 4.2 yards per carry, 52 receptions for 355 yards, and six total touchdowns. That placed him as the 18th-ranked fantasy back and provided excellent value to his owners, most of whom grabbed him with a low-round draft pick. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was a tale of two seasons for LT as he basically hit a brick wall late in the year. He scored just one touchdown in his final nine games and averaged a measly 6.7 points per game in his last five games. From Week 6 on, he averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. At 31, LT is headed for backup status; but in a Jets offense that loves to run, he ranks as an upper-tier backup in 12- and 14-team leagues as well as a nice option in flex leagues.
WR Braylon Edwards
After his 2007 breakout season in Cleveland in which he caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns, Edwards struggled mightily over the next two years, catching just 90 passes for 1,557 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite showing inconsistent hands at times, he had a bit of a renaissance in 2010, becoming a big-play threat for the Jets while making 53 receptions for 904 yards and seven touchdowns. Fantasy-wise, Edwards’ production dropped when Santonio Holmes returned from a four-game suspension. With Holmes in the lineup, Edwards’ fantasy points per game dropped from 10.2 to 7.6. In New York, Edwards won’t be the featured receiver, with a large part of his role being that of a deep threat. That makes him a WR3 at best in 2011.
WR Santonio Holmes
There’s not much to dislike about Holmes’ game. He has reliable hands and the speed to get deep. He can turn slants and crossing patterns into big plays. While he has never had a true breakout season, topping 1,000 yards only once in five years and never catching more than eight touchdown passes in a single season, the issue has usually been lack of opportunity, not talent. In Pittsburgh, he mostly played second fiddle to Hines Ward. Last season in New York, he missed the first four games of the season because of a suspension and then he was saddled with playing in a run-based offense that topped 200 passing yards in just six of the 12 games in which he played. Because he’ll be available for all 16 games and have another year in the Jets’ offensive system under his belt, Holmes figures to up his production in 2011. However, another sub-1000-yard season and five or six touchdowns seems most likely. That makes him a high-end WR3 in most leagues.
WR Jerricho Cotchery
With Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards in the fold, Cotchery will be relegated to the role of fill-in starter and to playing on obvious passing downs, meaning his days as a fantasy starter are clearly over. In fact, Cotchery didn’t even perform well when given an opportunity in 2010, catching just 47.7% of his targets—by far the worst performance in that category in his career. For further evidence of his demise, look to how his yardage totals have dropped in each of the last three years to just 433 last season. Summing it up, he’s a player on the decline playing as a backup in an offense that prefers to run. You can do better.
TE Dustin Keller
Over the last two years, Keller has been a reliable, albeit unspectacular, tight end for the Jets, which is somewhat of a disappointment after his impressive rookie campaign in 2008. He is coming off of a career year in 2010 when he finished the season with 55 receptions for 687yards and five touchdowns. Looks good until you dig a little deeper. First off, he caught just 54.5% of his targets, and this percentage has dropped over each of the past two seasons. Secondly, 55 of his 98 fantasy points and all five of his touchdowns came in the first four weeks of the season. Over the remaining 12 games of the year, he averaged a paltry 3.6 points per game. And that’s because once Santonio Holmes returned from a four-game suspension, Keller’s role in the Jets offense was reduced. With Holmes on board for 2012, look for Keller to produce as a TE2.