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Fantasy Opportunity Spotlight: New York Jets

A team-by-team analysis of coaches’ tendencies and using them to help create realistic fantasy football projections. @TubaDeus takes a look at the New York Jets.

Welcome to the new home of my yearly Fantasy Opportunity series! For those who didn’t see this series on Reddit last year, I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections than your run-of-the-mill analyst. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously, individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day, players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach’s scheme and how they like to spread the ball around.

As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I’ll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches’ schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations.

Make sense? Good. Let’s dive in.

Most of my stats are pulled from Pro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.

New York Jets

Last Year’s Accuracy

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Projections940385 (41.0%)555 (59.0%)45 (8.1%)310 (60.8%)105 (20.6%)70 (13.7%)
2020 Stats948406 (42.8%)542 (57.2%)43 (7.9%)327 (65.5%)75 (15.0%)61 (12.2%)
For league wide stats, see this spreadsheet.

Coaching Changes

My boss is a huge Jets fan. When he came into work on Black Monday with a smile etched on his face, I didn’t even need to check the headlines to know that Adam Gase was fired. This time, New York has hired a head coach that has actually earned sweeping praise (unlike Gase) in Robert Saleh. The former 49ers defensive coordinator will bring 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur with him as his new offensive coordinator. The Jets’ new defensive coordinator will be former Falcons linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.

Meet Mike LaFleur, who will come with Robert Saleh to Jets
Getty Images

Coaching History

This will be LaFleur’s first shot at designing his own offense, but it is worth noting that he is yet another branch on the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. LaFleur joined up with Shanahan in Cleveland back in 2014, followed him to Atlanta the following year, then went to San Francisco when Shanahan was hired as head coach. Without any other concrete data to work with, using Shanahan’s offense in San Francisco (where LaFleur acted as the passing game coordinator) as the baseline seems like as good a bet as any.

Since arriving in the Bay Area four years ago, Shanahan has produced remarkable consistency on offense. Sure there have been some spikes here and there, but generally speaking, Shanahan has produced right around a 41/59 run-pass ratio and a high-40’s/low-20’s/mid-20’s positional target share split between wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends, respectively. Even his play totals haven’t swung that far between years, especially when you consider that Shanahan has slowed his pace down from being the fastest offense in the NFL to being among the absolute slowest.

Looking Ahead

First and foremost, even if we assume LaFleur is bringing Shanahan’s offense to Gotham, the positional target shares from Shanahan’s offense are unlikely to hold up with the Jets. Specifically, the 49ers have an absolute game wrecker at tight end in George Kittle. The Jets have…Chris Herndon. Even the most fervent Herndon supporters have to admit that there’s a slight difference in skill level there. Expect LaFleur’s game plan to be much less tight end dependent than his Bay Area mentor.

The most likely benefactor of this should be the wide receivers. In a year where the Jets were very active in free agency, they made a point of bringing in a few veteran wideouts to bolster their ranks. They even grabbed another weapon early in the draft. New York may not boast any elite receiving talent, but they certainly have a plethora of solid options in their receiving corps. And new quarterback Zach Wilson should have some time to find those options after New York took an offensive lineman in the first round for the second consecutive season. Granted, the unit still has a long way to go, but this kind of investment usually leads to good things pretty quickly.

NY Jets Mekhi Becton: Everything we know about his shoulder injury
Adam Hunger, Associated Press

The other thing the Jets made a point of addressing in free agency was the defense. In 2020, New York’s defense was bad by pretty much every metric. A few high-priced free agents aren’t going to instantly make the unit elite, but they certainly shouldn’t hurt. Maybe a slightly better defense could get off the field a little faster, allowing a few extra drives for the offense over the course of the season. It shouldn’t be a major swing, but every bit helps.

2021 Projections

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Stats948406 (42.8%)542 (57.2%)43 (7.9%)327 (65.5%)75 (15.0%)61 (12.2%)
2021 Projections (17 Games)1053428 (40.6%)625 (59.4%)45 (7.2%)333 (57.4%)120 (20.7%)110 (19.0%)

Previous Entry: New York Giants

Next Entry: Philadelphia Eagles

Find this article helpful? You can follow me on Twitter and Reddit as @TubaDeus, though I spend most of my time on Discord.

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