The best way to explain the Jets’ preseason thus far is this: Quarterback Christian Hackenberg started the last two games. In his 18 preseason possessions, the Jets scored ten points. In the first quarter against the Giants last night, Hackenberg’s efforts led to 16 more points… for the Giants, via two pick-sixes and a safety.
If you want a further explanation, the second player in an alleged quarterback competition is Bryce Petty. He proved he was miles ahead of Hackenberg in his development by leading the Jets back from a 29-3 halftime deficit and putting them in position to win the game. He looked confident in his reads and threw with accuracy. Then he tripped over a teammate and injured his knee.
Meanwhile, veteran Josh McCown, who can only avoid being named the starter if the Jets want to risk an investigation of deliberately losing games, spent the week jogging and watching film. He did not get a pre-game practice rep. In fact, he has seen action for only one drive, a touchdown, all preseason.
It wasn’t all bad for the Jets. Running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell got the crowd excited, especially Powell who took a short pass and outraced the Giants defense for an 85-yard touchdown. Several of the Jets young receivers had moments and Sheldon Richardson led a strong pass rush that harassed Eli Manning for much of the first quarter.
To be fair to Hackenberg, he replaced the injured Petty and finished a strong drive with a nice 17-yard touchdown pass at the end of the game. The Jets went for the win but could not run in the two-point conversion. Also, Hackenberg’s second pick-six bounced out of the hands of Robbie Anderson after a vicious hit by Janoris Jenkins. The pass was a little late, but it was on-target.
What did we learn?
The most important thing we learned is that Bilal Powell is more than a sleeper at running back. Even though much of the damage came against the Giants’ backups, Powell looked as quick and strong as last season as he racked up 142 yards of offense.
Matt Forte got the start and averaged 4.3 yards on ten carries. Other than being caught in the endzone on a tremendous safety by Jason Pierre Paul, Forte was his usual reliable self. It is expected that Powell will get the bulk of the work, but Forte is still a contributor.
Unfortunately, the Jets’ insistence on playing Christian Hackenberg for long stretches has made it difficult to assess the Jets young receivers. Robbie Anderson appears set to be the number one, but rookie ArDarius Stewart will be among the challengers for that role soon enough. Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake showed promise last season, but if the plan has been to start McCown all along, the Jets lost valuable opportunities to get him on the same page with his receiving corps.
Meanwhile, the Jets defense took a hit when Leonard Williams went out with a wrist injury. It did not seem to be a big concern after the game, but Williams would be a huge loss for the Jets if he misses any time. Muhammad Wilkerson hasn’t done anything to make us think his quiet 2016 season was an anomaly. He was practically invisible on the defense. Sheldon Richardson, on the other hand, continues to make us wonder why the Jets considered trading him in the offseason. He was disruptive all night and caused Eli Manning’s interception.
With little preseason preparation and a corps of exciting, but woefully untested receivers, do not touch any Jet quarterback. For that matter, there is little reason to trust their wide receivers, either. But if you feel the urge to take a risk on a midseason surprise, Anderson and the rookie Stewart are the best bets to make McCown’s task easier.
Bilal Powell still looks like a better bet for fantasy points than the starter, Matt Forte. The Jets will be playing from behind a lot. Although both are good receivers out of the backfield, Powell has been the passing down back in the past. Powell may prove to be a bargain at his current 6th-round RB28 ADP, but there are few running backs ahead of him worth reaching over.
Forte is drafting in the 11th round as the RB50. I am not as down on Forte as many others. I have him as the RB 35 on my board. Last season, the pair finished as RB21 and 22 despite Forte missing games. I am cautiously optimistic that the Jets utilize the pair more evenly than they did last year, and I still expect Forte to be a force in the Jets’ offense.
Those other fantasy guys
What other fantasy guys? The Jets have shown little indication they will use their tight ends any more effectively than last season, when they were virtually non-existent. The kicking game will not have enough opportunity to be worth drafting, either.
The defense has not looked as good as year’s past, although part of that is probably the lack of offense. If they develop during the year, they may be worth a play against the Bills, but not much more than that.
So… that’s that
The Jets are rumored to be “tanking” the season. Their faux quarterback competition will have an adverse impact on their early season passing game. Other than their running backs, they offer little to your fantasy lineup.
Of course, McCown is a seasoned veteran and could surprise us with a group of fast and motivated receivers. It might be rough to watch their development, so let RealSport watch for you and check back in for updates all season!
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