The New York Jets typically have very few players that are fantasy football relevant every season. The player on the Jets with the best sleeper appeal outside of Chris Ivory is the team’s defense/special teams.
Despite a terrible season, the Jets’ defense/special teams had good fantasy production. They finished last season ranked thirteenth among defense/special teams in ESPN Standard Scoring Leagues.
The main reason why they finished with that high of a ranking was because of the pass defense. Despite star cornerback, Darrelle Revis, not playing for the majority of the season, the defense ranked second in opponent passing yards and tenth in touchdowns allowed.
In fantasy, anytime a defense can perform well against the pass, they are bound to have a good season. There are three reasons why the Jets’ defense/special teams have great sleeper appeal for this upcoming season.
The first reason is their low average draft position in Yahoo leagues. Their ADP is 126.2, which is the round No. 13.
Fantasy owners are drafting them after two of the worst passing defenses from last season, Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints. In a ‘bad’ season, the Jets defense/special teams finished with 29 fewer fantasy points than the touted San Francisco 49ers, so there is huge potential for this upcoming season
The second reason is the Jets performance last season and their offseason upgrades.
The Jets’ defense/special teams had eight games where they finished with at least nine fantasy points. They accumulated 17 fantasy points against the Indianapolis Colts and nine fantasy points against the Seattle Seahawks; both of them have pretty good offenses.
The Jets drafted Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and Alabama cornerback Dee Millner in the 2013 NFL Draft. Richardson will team up with Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson to form a much improved front-seven; Quinton Coples is hopeful to return from an ankle injury Week 2, according to Seth Walder of the New York Daily News.
Second-year Wilkerson and rookie Coples combined for 10.5 sacks last season, but it was not enough to help the rest of the front-seven. They ranked No. 26 in sacks and No. 27 in opponent rushing yards allowed.
The Jets’ sack total and opponent rushing yards allowed is slated to improve with Richardson helping. Also having an impact is the much improved Wilkerson and Coples, pressuring the quarterback and preventing the running back or full backs from gaining a lot of rushing yards. Budding star, cornerback, Antonio Cromartie leads their secondary.
The final reason is the Jets schedule.
The Jets will play six games against teams with a quarterback who has started fewer than 20 NFL games entering the 2013 season: the Buffalo Bills (twice), Miami Dolphins (twice), Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. As long as the front seven are able to pressure the quarterbacks on those four teams and stop the run, then the pass defense should be able to rack up fantasy points.
It would be asinine for a fantasy owner to draft the Jets’ defense/special teams before the Seahawks, 49ers, Houston Texans, and Chicago Bears. As the San Diego Chargers‘ defense/special teams proved last season, any defense/special teams can score a lot of fantasy points with good defense and a little bit of luck.
The Chargers’ defense/special teams shocked fantasy owners by finishing with more fantasy points than the Texans and 49ers. This year’s fantasy defense/special teams version of the Chargers could be the Jets.