QB Mark Sanchez
After a pair of seasons leading the Jets to the AFC Championship game, Sanchez put together a career year in 2012 with career highs in passing yards with 3,474, passing touchdowns with 26 and rushing touchdowns with 6. All the more impressive is that Sanchez produced despite having his lead receiver (Santonio Holmes) sulk his way through the season and having an aging Plaxico Burress on the other side with no proven third receiver on the roster and tight end Dustin Keller go through another late season swoon. The reward for Sanchez? A chance to compete with former Bronco Tim Tebow to retain his starting job. Not helping matters is that Holmes returns as the team’s lead receiver and Burress has been replaced by raw rookie Stephen Hill. The current plan is for the Jets to rotate Tebow in for a number of plays each game, basically torpedoing any fantasy value Sanchez had. Unless the rotation plan changes, don’t add Sanchez to your roster.
QB Tim Tebow
After a successful season in Denver that culminated in the Broncos winning the AFC West division crown and taking out a strong Steelers team in the first round of the playoffs, the Tebow show heads to the Big Apple for the 2012 season. Jettisoned to the Jets after the Broncos landed Peyton Manning, Tebow will enter the season as the backup to Mark Sanchez but will be rotated in for a number of plays each game. His exact role is yet to be determined but rest assured that it will include plenty of red zone touches, an area of the field he excelled in during the 2011 season. Tebow rates as a low-end fantasy backup if (when?) he unseats Sanchez.
RB Shonn Greene
After his strong late season and playoff run as a rookie in 2009, much was expected of Greene but he has largely disappointed over the last two seasons. With Thomas Jones out of the picture in 2010, Greene was expected to assume the lead role in the Jets backfield with LaDainian Tomlinson in a change of pace and receiving role. Unfortunately for Greene’s owners, LT still had some life in his legs and Greene flopped with 766 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Last season, LT was relegated to a pure backup role but Greene again failed to impress, gaining 1,054 yards and six touchdowns with three of those scores coming in Week 13 against the Redskins. In fact, if you take away his Week 13 and 14 games, Greene’s FPts average drops from 10.2 to 7.7, hardly confidence-inspiring. For 2012, Tony Sparano joins the Jets as their offensive coordinator, LT is gone and he will be replaced by Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell, neither of whom is a threat to steal Greene’s job. That means Greene should top his 253 rushing attempts from a year ago and it was also nice to see him active in the passing game last season with 30 receptions for 211 yards, both career highs. On the negative side, Tim Tebow joins the Jets and will likely garner plenty of red zone touches, making it almost impossible for Greene to significantly improve on his six touchdowns from a year ago. Add it all up and Greene shapes up as a risk-free RB2 in 2012.
RB Joe McKnight
McKnight is one of those players that, if you catch him on the right day, can fool you into thinking he’s talented enough for a major role. Don’t make that mistake. McKnight has topped 15 touches just twice in his two-year career, gaining 173 yards on 34 touches against the Bills as a rookie and 121 yards on 22 touches against the Broncos last season. However, the more telling statistic is the amount of carries the team’s coaching staff has given him in two years – 82 with 32 coming in the meaningless Week 17 win over Buffalo in 2010. McKnight has solid speed and the ability to make defenders miss but he is ill suited to assume a heavy workload if Greene were to go down. Grab him as Greene’s handcuff provided he beats out Bilal Powell for that role.
RB Bilal Powell
The Jets used a fourth-round pick in 2010 to acquire the Louisville product and he will get his first chance to earn extended playing time this season after sitting behind Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight as a rookie. Powell touched the rock in just two games last season, gaining 21 yards on 13 carries and showing little promise as an NFL back. However, Greene has failed to impress and McKnight is better suited running outside the tackles. There is a decent chance that Powell will sit third on the depth chart coming out of training camp but if Greene were to go down or struggle, Powell just might leapfrog McKnight to earn a more significant role.
WR Santonio Holmes
Let’s run down the Holmes situation from 2011. Quitter? Check. Drama queen? Check. Fighting with the quarterback? Check. Called a team cancer? Check. Called out by teammates (more than once)? Check. Let’s face it folks, had the Jets not had to pay Holmes nearly $8-million in guaranteed salary for the upcoming season, he would have been released. Now let’s check in on the 2012 situation. Argued with his position coach, chucked his helmet and pulled himself out of an OTA because he thought he was being overworked? Check. Proceeded to sit out drills claiming injury? Check. If I haven’t convinced you that Holmes is a major risk, how about we check in on his 2011 production: 51 receptions on 101 targets for a career-low 654 yards with eight touchdowns. Sure, there isn’t a proven wide receiver on the depth chart to start opposite him but Holmes’ attitude and the presence of scatter shot quarterbacks in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are major concerns. Holmes is a low-end WR2 in 2012 provided he keeps his attitude in check.
WR Stephen Hill
Hill’s combine numbers tell you that he has more upside than any other wide receiver taken in this year’s draft. Then you view his highlight reel and your expectations take a major hit. At 6’4” and 215 pounds with 4.35 40-yard speed, Hill is extremely gifted but he is also extraordinarily raw. On most teams, he would come off the bench as a rookie but the Jets moved up in the second round to take him and they have a glaring hole opposite Santonio Holmes in the starting lineup so the current plan is for Hill to open the season as a starter. Having never caught more than 28 passes in college and with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow at quarterback, Hill won’t catch a ton of passes as a rookie. Look for him to take a few bombs to the house but he won’t be a reliable fantasy producer in 2012. His work ethic and attitude make him a good to great option in dynasty leagues.
WR Chaz Schilens
Healthy for the first time since his rookie season in 2008, Schilens couldn’t find a role in the Raiders offense last season, finishing the year with 23 receptions for 271 yards and a pair of scores in 15 games. In 2012, he moves to a Jets teams desperate to find production opposite Santonio Holmes and with rookie 2nd round pick Stephen Hill penciled in as their other starter. As the most experienced backup on the roster, Schilens will have a chance to spit time with Hill but it is doubtful he will develop into a solid starter in his 5th year in the league given his past production and injury issues.
WR Jeremy Kerley
The Jets 2011 5th round pick put together a decent rookie season, catching 29 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown while solidifying the team’s punt returner role. At 5’9” and 188 pounds, the Texas Christian product seems ill suited to a starting role but has some potential to develop into a decent slot receiver in a Jets offense that lacks proven pass catchers. Kerley has more value in dynasty leagues that use the PPR scoring system than in standard scoring, redraft formats.
TE Dustin Keller
The knock on Keller is consistency. Consistency as in he generally starts out hot and then hits a wall. Over the first four games of the last two seasons, he has totaled 515 yards and seven touchdowns. Unfortunately, he has not been able to sustain those hot starts and has scored just three touchdowns over the final 12 games over the last two seasons. In 2012, Keller figures to get more opportunities in a New York offense that lacks a proven starting wide receiver opposite Santonio Holmes. The departure of Plaxico Burress also bodes well for Keller’s opportunities in the red zone. The talent is there and he is in a contract year so maybe 2012 will be the first time Keller puts it together for an entire season. If he can increase his touchdown count from five to seven or eight and maintain his yardage total from last season (a career-high 815), Keller will be a mid-tier TE1.