AFC East

Dear Mr. Fantasy, Give Us A Clue

Victor Cruz is out for the year, so who should you pick up?

Victor Cruz is out for the year, so who should you pick up?

It’s Mr. Fantasy’s premiere football column. He share his waiver wire grabs, drops, an fuggedaboutits.

Injuries play a huge role in every fantasy football league, just as they do in the actual National Football League. Week 6 had more than their fair share of impactful injuries, so it’s time to go around the NFL and take a look at the newest injuries and how they impact their teams and yours.

Victor Cruz WR, NYG: This is a huge blow to the Giants’ already shaky playoff chances. If you missed it, there will be no salsa dancing for the foreseeable future for Cruz after he tore his patella tendon in Sunday night’s contest with Philly. Swoop up Rueben Randle or Odell Beckham Jr. if one of them is available in your league. Randle is likely to be targeted more at this point of the season, but Beckham, the Giants first round pick in 2014, will get more passes thrown his way as the season goes on. Eli Manning and Randle are often not on the same page, so that could also play into Beckham’s numbers. Preston Parker’s targets should go up as well as a result of Cruz’s injury. The Giants have also signed Kevin Ogletree, but he won’t have much of a fantasy impact.

Darren Sproles RB, PHI: The diminutive, but powerful running back is expected to miss two weeks with a sprained MCL. That could be just one week of games since Philly has a bye this Sunday. (Post-MRI talk even has a possibility of Sproles returning in week eight versus Arizona) Sproles’ nine fantasy points on Sunday was the most since he compiled 14 and 23 the first two weeks of the season.

Not that it has hurt their offense, but Sproles was targeted four times against the Giants on Sunday night, but didn’t have a reception. In the prior week’s victory over St. Louis, Nick Foles didn’t throw Sproles’ way once. Chris Polk, who sat out Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury has indicated he’ll be ready for the Cardinals game. Even if Sproles is out, Polk is not likely to get too many carries when LeSean McCoy needs a breather.

Stevan Ridley RB, NE: The New England Patriots top back tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee and is out for the remainder of the season. Picking a replacement running back for the Pats, when it comes to fantasy football, is extremely diifficult. Head coach Bill Belichik uses so many situational formations it’s difficult to predict how many touches a game a player will get.

Former Patriot RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a perfect example of this. He rushed for just 667 yards in 2011, but was a goal line specialist and scored 11 touchdowns. That being said, Shane Vereen is the favorite to handle the ball the most of any of NE’s backs…but look for your points from another team.

Knowshon Moreno RB, Mia: Most owners had already picked up Lamar Miller when Moreno injured his elbow in Week 2. Now the former Denver Broncos standout is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL in his right knee. Miller has been limited in practice due to an undisclosed injury so stowing Damien Williams on your bench might be a good long term investment.

 

Turn out the lights, the party’s over. Time to ride the pines.

Ah, good ol’ “Dandy” Don Meredith singing “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” back in the hey day of Monday Night Football. In this case the party is over for some football players. These guys aren’t hurt, they’ve just become ineffective.

Matt Asiata RB, Min: When Adrian Peterson was suspended, the Vikings gave the ball to Asiata, who responded with 36 yards rushing and 48 yards receiving and a TD in week 2. Week 4 saw him compile the fantasy game of his life. In the 41-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Asiata rushed for three touchdowns and compiled 100 total yards rushing and receiving. But the game also was an omen of things to come.

Rookie Jerick McKinnon rushed for 135 yards against Atlanta,  on just 18 carries. The 3rd round pick from Georgia Southern still managed only 10 touches the following week, because Green Bay blew the game open early in a 42-10 rout. Last week, the Vikings held tough against a very good Detroit Lions defense, which saw McKinnon rush for 40 yards (11 carries) and catch all six passes targeted at him for another 42 yards. Meanwhile Asiata, despite 72 yards rushing against the Packers, carried the ball just twice against Detroit and had no receptions. McKinnon is clearly the starter now, though you may not want to start him this week against a tough Buffalo Bills defense.

Larry Donnell TE, NYG: Donnell had a pretty awful 2013 campaign and was a breakout star this season until the last two weeks. He scored 11 points in week 1 vs. Detroit, followed by eight points against Arizona. His big week came in week 4 when he caught three touchdowns against the beleaguered Washington Redskins defense. But Donnell has recorded zero fantasy points the last two weeks. Granted his triple tap touchdown reception this past Sunday against Philly was called back by a holding penalty on offensive lineman Will Beatty, but either defenses have adjusted and/or Manning is looking elsewhere.

With Cruz out, Manning could go back to Donnell, but this week’s opponent, Dallas, has allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends this season. That and the other Giants tight end Daniel Fells caught a TD pass in weeks 2 through 4. It’s a  good time to bench Donnell.

Chris Johnson RB, NYJ: Remember when Johnson was the studliest running back in the NFL? It seems like eons ago now. While he put in some serviceable performances in his latter days with the Tennessee Titans, his time with the Jets has been nothing stellar. Fans were excited when he had 68 yards rushing and another 23 receiving in week 1, including a touchdown, but Johnson hasn’t done much since then. He’s found the opponents’ end zone just one additional time.Teammate Chris Ivory is clearly the better back at this time and Johnson is likely to continue to see the football less and less. Cut Johnson loose and get a useful player on your roster.

 

Christmas Comes Early

Jason Witten TE, DAL: The Cowboys tight end has just one TD reception this season and has not recorded more than eight fantasy points in any single game. But the Cowboys host the Giants this week and Jason Witten loves to play his division rivals. Last season alone, Witten caught eight of nine targets for 70 yards and two touchdowns in an opening night 36-31 win. In the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, the Giants “held” Witten to four receptions for 37 yards, but he still caught two TD passes in a 24-21 Cowboys’ win. Though he didn’t catch a touchdown pass, the second meeting between the two teams in 2012 saw Witten catch a ridiculous 18 passes for 167 yards. In a word, or two words, start him!

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Mr. Fantasy can be reached with fantasy football or hockey questions at mrfantasy@d4assignment.com

Stubborn ‘Gang Of 3′ Has Turned The Jets Into A Total Disgrace

gang-of-3

Woody Johnson (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images), John Idzik (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) and Rex Ryan (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Jeff Capellini
WFAN.com

The Jets are in worse shape now than they were before head coach Rex Ryan arrived prior to the 2009 season. They are just a mess.

Sunday’s 31-0 loss to the Chargers in San Diego was an embarrassment on just about every level. Not only did they not show up from the get-go, the Jets seemed to disintegrate in certain areas as the game progressed. And the things that went south were surprising and a bad omen for Ryan.

Considering the week that was heading into the game — the relentless criticism of general manager John Idzik, the fallout over the Geno Smith tirade on a fan following the Week 4 home loss to Detroit and the never-ending speculation about Ryan’s job security — Sunday’s effort and result were just about the worst things that could have happened.

Now, it’s just open season on every single person associated with the franchise, including enabling owner Woody Johnson, who just last week tried to calm fears by standing behind his GM’s unorthodox plan to rebuild. Yet, the firestorm that has engulfed the Jets will not dissipate just because the great and powerful Woody has spoken, mostly because every week they look more and more like one of the worst teams in the NFL.

As I have stated many times both online and in print, this season was never about a commitment to winning in the sense of what the fans and media expected. People who pay massive PSL and ticket prices to go to MetLife Stadium every week can understand the idea of rebuilding to a degree, but what Idzik is in the midst of trying to do —  while on some levels admirable considering the Jets’ need to get younger and deeper in a league that has no use for the old and thin — has created such a backlash that there’s no telling if fans will ever trust him.

Certain reporters have been going after the organization for years, mostly because of Ryan’s braggadocio ways back when he was a neophyte head coach. For even the more muted Rex of today, the only way to keep the media at bay is to win, but for the last three-plus years the Jets have at best treaded water. Since the plan to rebuild was put in motion things have only gotten worse for Ryan.

As a result, no one cares about the AFC tittle game appearances in 2009 and 2010 anymore. They no longer act as ammunition for Ryan’s supporters, of which I still am but understand is becoming a losing stance. This coach, while a colorful character of the highest order and brilliant in certain aspects of the Xs and Os, hasn’t been successful for what will soon be four consecutive seasons.

And his boss has done him no favors.

Read the rest of this article for free at newyork.cbslocal.com. Column and photos used with the permission of wfan.com.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Jeff Capellini is a special contributor to Designated For Assignment. Click here to view more of his work at newyork.cbslocal.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet

2014 NY Jets Preview: Can Geno Prove His Critics Wrong?

geno-smith

Geno Smith will try to lead the Jets back to the post-season in 2014.

by Connor Rogers

After a surprising 8-8 finish, Rex Ryan is back for his sixth season as the head coach of the New York Jets. With limited talent on the offensive side of the ball and a rookie quarterback starting all year, Ryan and the Jets found a way to finish .500.

 After an offseason filled with multiple free agent additions and twelve draft picks, the Jets look to make a playoff push in 2014. The question is, can the Jets’ offense finally produce average production to aid an extremely solid defense? Let’s take a look how it might all play out…

 Key New FA Additions: WR Eric Decker, RB Chris Johnson, QB Mike Vick, OT Breno Giacomini

Decker was the first free agent addition for the Jets, signing a five year contract worth 36.25 million dollars (15 guaranteed). Vick was brought in on a one-year deal to be Geno Smith’s back up.

Chris Johnson was cut by the Titans well into free agency and was brought in on a two-year deal worth an $8 million dollar base salary (up to $1 million in incentives). Dmitri Patterson was signed after the cornerback market completely fizzled on a one-year deal. Then he fizzled too, going AWOL during the pre-season and was released.

Key Departures: CB Antonio Cromartie (Arizona), Santonio Holmes (Chicago), Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia),  Austin Howard (Oakland)

The Jets made no attempt to bring back Cromartie and failed at coming to terms with Howard, who was paid a king’s ransom by Oakland to move from right tackle to guard. Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes were cut by the Jets after failing to live up to mega contracts they received from former general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

NFL Draft Additions:

Round 1: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville

Round 2: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Round 3: Dexter Mcdougle, CB, Maryland

Round 4: Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma/Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA/Dakota Dozier, OT/OG, Furman

Round 5: Jeremiah George, ILB, Iowa State

Round 6: Brandon Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri State/Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska/IK Enemkpali, OLB, Louisiana Tech/Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

Round 7: Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah

Pryor will start at one of the safety spots. He was brought in to improve the Jets turnover differential and overall turnovers, both categories of which the Jets were in the bottom 5 of the league.

Amaro will receive significant (starter level) reps at both tight end and split out wide. His blocking is much better than he is given credit for, while being a red zone target from day one.

Mcdougle is lost for the year with a torn ACL injury and will look to compete for a starting corner spot in training camp in 2015 after rehab.

Jalen Saunders is the starting punt returner and fifth wide out on the team. Shaq Evans has been put on IR for the year. Dakota Dozier brings depth to the interior offensive line positions.

George has struggled in the preseason and is currently on the roster bubble. If he does make the team, he is the backup for Demario Davis and David Harris.

Dixon is a project cornerback that will most likely land on the practice squad in year one. He has excellent speed (top 5 40-yard dash time at the 2014 NFL combine) and experience in man-to-man press coverage. If he can refine his lateral movement and flipping of his hips, he will see the field in 2015.

Enunwa is a big red zone threat (6’2, 225 pounds) and a nasty blocker. He will most likely land on the practice squad as his route running needs work, unless he can stick on special teams.

IK Enemkpali is a power rusher that played at a lower level of competition at Louisiana Tech. He can step in on special teams as a rookie while working on a role as a situational edge rusher for the 2015 NFL season.

Matt Simms beat out Boyd for the third string quarterback spot, though Simms is merely on the practice squad for now.

Trevor Reilly played every position except nose tackle in the front seven at Utah. The versatile 26 year old is a special teams candidate for the Jets in 2014.

The Offense:

Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback, as he looks to carry his strong finish from 2013 into the 2014 season. There is a lot to like about Smith, who was forced into a starter’s role after Mark Sanchez suffered a season-ending injury in the 2013 preseason vs. the Giants.

Smith has a strong, accurate arm and + graded mobility.  He is a “down field” thrower that needs to refine his reads and footwork. After being given a full NFL offseason, Smith should have a better grasp on the playbook and reading of an NFL pass rush. I would temper expectations going into year two, but 18 passing touchdowns, 4 rushing, and 12-15 turnovers are very fair expectations for Smith.

The Jets will rely on a run-heavy attack featuring power back Chris Ivory, speedster Chris Johnson, and the one cut runner in Bilal Powell. Ivory is a load when healthy and a goal line menace. Johnson can bounce it outside and bring it to the house on any play, from handoffs or passes.

Powell is the best pass-protecting back on the team and displays very good vision to find the hole, cut and go. Daryl Richardson will also be featured in case one of the top three are injured. The speedy back from the Rams is very capable of handling second-string running back duties.

Eric Decker will be the primary wide receiver. Jeremy Kerley will handle the slot duties and continue to be the go-to guy on third downs. Jace Amaro and Jeff Cumberland are extremely capable pass catchers that can line up as in-line tight ends as well, although Cumberland has struggled mightly as a blocker in the past.

David Nelson will be a short-intermediate possession target, while Greg Salas will most likely back up Kerley.  Jalen Saunders will handle returning punts and occasionally work out of the slot if he develops as a NFL pass catcher this year. Stephen Hill’s status with the team is up in the air as he continued to struggle in the preseason.

The offensive line will feature mainstays D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold with free agent addition Breno Giacomini. The guards will be Brian Winters and Willie Colon, with Oday Aboushi as a primary do-it-all back up. Giacomini and Colon are bruisers that lack a lot of foot speed but can maul when they get their hands on defenders.

Ferguson is the blindside protector who handles the primary edge rushers. Mangold is as solid as they come, after he did not allow a single sack in 2013. Winters is the guy to keep an eye on as penalties and pass protecting seem to be key struggles in his game right now.

 

The Defense:

The defense is led by young talent along the line in Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Damon Harrison. Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples will start at the outside linebacker positions, with Jason Babin being the situational pass rusher. Antwan Barnes is still working his way back from a 2013 knee injury.

Rookie Calvin Pryor and veteran Dawan Landry will start at the safety positions. The cornerback positions are anyone’s best guess at the moment, outside of Dee Milliner being a lock. Darrin Walls is an extremely capable outside coverage corner who seems to be the front-runner to line up across from Milliner. Antonio Allen will see time at both safety and corner, wherever the Jets need him. Kyle Wilson will most likely play a slot corner position.

Bruiser David Harris and youngster Demario Davis lead the middle of the defense. Harris struggles considerably in coverage but plays the interior run as well as anyone. Davis is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker that could lead the team in tackles in 2014.

 

Special Teams:

First-year coach Thomas McGaughey from LSU will look to improve the Jets special teams in 2014. Jalen Saunders will be the primary punt returner, with Jeremy Kerley serving as his back up.

Kick returner will be a week-to-week position depending who is on the roster. Jacoby Ford, Saalim Hakim, and Clyde Gates can all handle kick return duties. The question is, which one makes the roster, if any?

Nick Bellore is the special team’s “stand out.” Bellore is a tackling machine that always seems to have his nose on shutting down returns.

Nick Folk has been as reliable as they come for the Jets, hitting 33 out of 36 field goal attempts in 2013. Ryan Quigley is a huge question mark at punt returner, and the Jets should look to replace him after cuts. Long-snapper Tanner Purdum seems like a lock.

Outlook:

The Jets made a lot of offseason improvements and will look to build off of their 8-8 finish in 2013. Right now I have them finishing 9-7, just missing the playoffs due to a very strong AFC in 2014. The most important factors for the team will be Geno Smith’s development and the secondary containing the big play, two week-to-week issues they faced last season.

Connor Rogers works in Bleacher Report’s NFL Video Department and is a lead editor for Turn On The Jets. He has been featured on newyorkjets.com and many more outlets. You can follow him on twitter at @CRogers_NFL.