The New York Jets got some bad, but expected, news on Monday when it was confirmed cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins and will miss the rest of the season. His impact on the Jets’ defense is clear, as Revis usually covers the opposition’s top wide receiver and effectively locks him down for the most part.
Antonio Cromartie will now take over a the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback, and 2010 first-round pick Kyle Wilson will have to step into a more significant role. That is obviously a downgrade in talent, and the domino effect is likely to limit the Jets’ ability to dial up aggressive blitzes to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
From a fantasy football perspective the Jets’ defense has been a mixed bag so far, with six turnovers forced and three return touchdowns (two interception, one punt) but just three total sacks. It is notable that all three of those sacks came in one game, Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, against what can safely be called at minimum a banged up offensive line.
The greater impact for fantasy football owners will come for those who own a wide receiver that faces the Jets over the course of the season. Obviously Revis’ absence will benefit those top tier receivers that were in line to face him, and stands to give a boost to wide receivers that are not necessarily every week fantasy starters.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the teams on the rest of the Jets’ schedule and take a look at the wide receivers on each team that could benefit from Revis’ absence.
Week 4- vs. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will not be confused with a high-octane passing game with Alex Smith at the helm, but wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and even Randy Moss are likely to find things a lot easier this week. None of the three are surefire fantasy starters, except perhaps Crabtree in PPR leagues, but a fantasy owner in a deep league that finds themselves in a bind at wide receiver could consider taking a flier on Manningham or Moss.
Week 5- vs. Houston Texans
No fantasy owner will bench Andre Johnson under any circumstance other than injury or a bye week, but not having to line up across from Revis will make things easier on him for sure. This may be the first game where the domino effect of the Jets being without Revis effects the fantasy status of a wide receiver, as Kevin Walter may become usable in 12-teams leagues with notable wide receivers like Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson and Miles Austin having the week off.
Week 6- vs. Indianapolis Colts
Colts’ wide receiver Reggie Wayne has landed back on the fantasy radar with a solid start to the season (23 reception, 296 yards, one touchdown). So he is basically back to being a weekly WR2 or WR3 depending on your league format, and it would take having at least a few obvious better options to bench him. But the No.2 wide receiver situation for Indianapolis is less clear, with Donnie Avery and rookie T.Y. Hilton both having productive games lately. Fortunately fantasy owners have at least one more game to analyze the Colts’ wide receivers, since they have a Week 4 bye, but Wayne is likely to remain the only consistent fantasy starter in the group.
Week 7- vs. New England Patriots
Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker are the clear-cut top two wide receivers for the Patriots, and are likely starting every week for any fantasy owner who has them on a roster regardless of matchup. After that it’s more volatile, with Julian Edelman and the newly re-signed Deion Branch in the mix. Tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) may also be able to return to action by the time this game comes around, limiting the opportunities for everyone else in the passing game. It’s possible Branch becomes worthy of a flier in very deep leagues with six teams on a bye, but don’t hold your breath.
Week 8- @ Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins’ passing game is not prolific, but it is notable that slot receiver Davone Bess had five catches for 86 yards against the Jets in their Week 3 meeting. Bess is likely going to continue to be usable in PPR leagues, and Brian Hartline could be in line to improve one his one-catch effort from this past Sunday with Revis out. Quite simply, any fantasy owner that has to rely on any Miami wide receiver is probably not in good shape in their league standings.
Week 9- Bye
Week 10- @ Seattle Seahawks
Seattle does not have any top tier fantasy wide receivers, but Sidney Rice could become fantasy starter-worthy if he can shake off injuries. Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu and Braylon Edwards are also all in the mix for playing time, and in reality limit each other’s productivity if playing time gets divided. If Doug Baldwin can ever get healthy he could emerge as an option in PPR leagues, but otherwise Revis being out stands to have virtually no impact on this receiving corp in a positive or negative fashion.
Week 11- @ St. Louis Rams
Danny Amendola has emerged as a solid fantasy option, particularly in PPR leagues, with 25 receptions through three games highlighted by a 15-catch effort against the Washington Redskins in Week 2. He should remain a solid option for fantasy owners from now until this game occurs, but no other Rams’ wide receiver is likely to become a fantasy stalwart anytime soon.
Week 12- vs. New England Patriots
Quite simply, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker are likely to be the only New England wide receivers worth starting consideration in fantasy leagues, to say nothing of being the only two Patriots’ wide receivers worthy of a roster spot in most formats.
Week 13- vs. Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald is clearly the top Arizona wide receiver, and beyond that are some inconsistent options for fantasy owners like Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd and Early Doucet. I personally like Floyd to emerge as a solid fantasy option and true second fiddle to Fitzgerald at some point this season, but at this point it’s hard to know if that will happen.
Week 14- @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have a deep, if largely unproven group of wide receivers led by rookie Justin Blackmon, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert along with an overall fairly conservative offense limits the upside of all of them. Blackmon and offseason free agent signing Laurent Robinson are worthy of roster spots in 12-team leagues, but even they are not starter material in most scoring formats.
Week 15- @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans have a few wide receivers that are likely on rosters in most leagues in Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington. Britt is clearly the most physically gifted of the group, and he is currently working his way back to health after multiple offseason knee surgeries. By the time this game is played, Britt could be a force for his fantasy owners and a weekly must-start while Wright appears to be getting more targets than Washington and that gap may only grow by this point in the season. This will be a critical week for fantasy owners, and Tennessee could have two wide receivers worth starting with a fair amount of upside.
Week 16- vs. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers’ top two wide receivers, Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd, are roster-worthy in fantasy leagues, but both are at best fringe fantasy starters at this point. That of course can change from now to Week 16, but since this is championship game week in a lot of leagues fantasy owners should probably avoid any San Diego wide receiver since the downside is so great.
Week 17- @ Buffalo Bills
Bills’ wide receiver Steve Johnson is the rare receiver who has had success against Revis, including in Week 1 this season when he had four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. He is likely to continue to be far and away the best Buffalo receiver for fantasy owners on a weekly basis, but Donald Jones could emerge as an option in PPR formats for the regular season finale.
All things considered, Revis’ absence does little to make an otherwise unworthy wide receiver startable in fantasy leagues. But those that own Andre Johnson, Steve Johnson, Fitzgerald and even Lloyd or Welker can raise their expectations some for matchups against the Jets and not just be resigned to living with a dismal effort from a player that is unbenchable.