Over the span of the entire off-season, the New York Jets have been commonly referred to as the team with the greatest chance at getting next year’s first overall pick in the NFL Draft. After somehow overachieving and finishing 5-11 last year, the Jets still decided to rebuild and moved on from veteran players like Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eric Decker, David Harris, Darelle Revis, Nick Mangold and a whole host of others. The Jets were scheduled to go into the season with an offense featuring a quarterback to be named later (the “winner” of the Bryce Petty / Josh McCown / Christian Hackenberg quarterback battle for the ages), an aging combination of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell at running back and a set of receivers led by Quincy Enunwa, who broke out for 857 receiving yards last season.
That won’t happen.
Enunwa is going to be placed on the season-ending injured reserve list due to a bulging disc in his neck, an injury reportedly sustained in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Barring a veteran addition, the Jets will unbelievably now go into the season featuring a receiving corps of nine players who boasted a grand total of 1,296 receiving yards last season. To put that into perspective, those NINE players had fewer yards combined last year than TY Hilton, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham and Mike Evans had on their own. Let that soak in for a moment. The Jets look to be nearly unwatchable this year. In fact, the record for fewest points in a 16-game season is 140 and I believe that could be in moderate jeopardy, if not imminent danger.
This injury is an important one for some dynasty players, so let’s run down the list of players affected.
Quincy Enunwa, WR NYJ
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After playing really well last season and surprising just about everyone by posting 58 catches, 857 receiving yards and four touchdowns, Enunwa was in a contract year and scheduled to make just $615,000 during the last year of his three-year, $1.995 million contract that represented one of the biggest bargains in the NFL. Instead of attempting to repeat or improve on his performance from last year, Enunwa will now spend the year on IR and serious questions will surround him as he becomes a free agent over the off-season next year. From a business perspective, this has likely cost him millions.
How about the fantasy perspective?
It’s very difficult to project just what this is going to do to Enunwa’s value until we learn more about his injury. While his ADP will certainly go down from his current average of 110, it’s going to take some time before anyone is really going to know what to do with him. The easy answer is obviously to have him on your league’s IR but the bigger question is going to revolve around how this injury will affect his career moving forward. Neck injuries on football players are no joke and his recovery will be watched very closely. At this point, Enunwa is going to be knocked down to “flyer player with potential” range in startup drafts and is simply a “hold” for his disappointed dynasty owners. On the positive front, he’ll still only be 26 at this time next season. If he recovers, he could be a low-priced target for non-contending teams willing to roll the dice this off-season.
Robby Anderson, WR NYJ
Meet the new WR1 for the Jets! Yep, it’s that bad, folks. That’s not a cut against Anderson, who also surprised most of the fantasy community with a 42/587/2 line last year. However, expecting him to suddenly be a “go-to” option for a team is asking a lot of a second year player. Still, this is obviously a great opportunity for Anderson and he’ll be given every chance to be successful. Even as a WR1 on his team, I’d hesitate in giving up much for his services. Anderson is certainly worth an add off the wire even in a shallow league but I’d hesitate in making him much of a trade target unless it’s for a late round rookie pick of some sort – that seems like a palatable price tag for a player who suddenly has a good opportunity on what looks to be a bad team.
ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, WRs NYJ
Rookie receivers don’t often make a huge impact because they’re not ready or needed. Well, it’s not going to matter if these two are ready because they’re going to be needed. Stewart and Hansen are both decent rookie picks (Stewart is our #22 overall rookie and Hansen comes it at #47). It’s fair to move them both up a peg or two in your rookie rankings because they’re going to get playing time early and often. I’d also hesitate in getting too far down on either of them this season if things don’t go well. After all, they have the group below throwing to them…
Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty, QBs NYJ
The mess at quarterback in New York isn’t just hot, it’s like that weird new flavor at Buffalo Wild Wings advertised as the hottest wing flavor ever. I can’t recall the name but I remember thinking it was somehow Satan’s helper when I tried it and wanted to immediately die. Anyway, that’s how hot a mess this is at the position. McCown will almost certainly start the year as the veteran stopgap but there’s no telling how long he’ll last health-wise and frankly, he hasn’t been good since he worked with Marc Trestman in Chicago. Hackenberg hasn’t been good since Penn State was irrelevant. Petty hasn’t been good since he stopped playing in a video game offense. In short, this isn’t good in any way and there’s no telling just how ugly things could get in New York this season.
Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake, Chris Harper, Marquess Wilson, Lucky Whitehead, Myles White, Frankie Hammond, WRs NYJ
Imagine game planning for the rest of that crew! In all seriousness, Peake and Harper are likely the best bet for production out of this group but I wouldn’t count on anything that would make me ever think either would be a good fit for my active roster. This is a group that needs a lot of new faces but is also one to monitor over the next few weeks as New York will need at least one or two of them to step up. In short, someone from this group or outside of it has to do something for the Jets this year.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE NYJ
If there’s a beneficiary from this injury, it actually could be ASJ. He’ll begin the season serving a two-game suspension but should be a big part of the offense once he returns. Remember, he’s a very talented former second round pick who has had his share of issues but remains a player who has some upside. On the Jets, there are a precious few of those remaining. ASJ could be a sneaky pickup late in startup drafts or off the wire.
Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire and Matt Forte, RBs NYJ
As if you weren’t already going to see a stacked defensive front.
Vincent Jackson, Eddie Royal, Stevie Johnson, WRs FA
If the Jets look at free agents, this a short list. None of these players has a tremendous long-term upside but they could easily work their way up a depth chart that’s pretty empty and gain some short-term relevance.
Sam Darnold, QB USC
Make your flight plans for April!
While it’s obviously very early to speculate, you really have to figure the quarterback of the future for the Jets is in College now and the Enunwa injury only solidifies the idea the Jets are going to end up with someone like Darnold, Mason Rudolph, Josh Rosen, Luke Falk, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen or Jake Browning.
In closing, the injury to Enunwa is a sad one for dynasty owners and anyone who had hopes for the Jets next season. This injury is a serious one and will now have all of us looking for hot Jets receiver news over the next few weeks – it just won’t be nearly as hot as those wings.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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