Wide receiver Eric Decker set career-highs in receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,288) in 2013, and over the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos he has totaled 172 receptions for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns with Peyton Manning under center. But Decker will not be back with the Broncos this season, and he’ll now become the No. 1 wide receiver for the New York Jets after signing a five-year deal this offseason.
Decker is now the most talented receiver on the Jets’ roster, and as a reliable, sure-handed option he should be the most targeted pass catcher on the team. Whoever the Jets have under center will not be in Manning’s class, but Decker had a fairly productive season in 2011 (44 receptions or 612 yards and eight touchdowns) with Tim Tebow starting 11 games.
Decker has obviously traded in Manning for an inferior quarterback, regardless of whether Michael Vick or Geno Smith (or both) start games for the Jets this year. With a lack of talent around him overall, containing Decker may be the primary focus of opposing defenses. Suffice to say, that’s not a situation Decker has been accustomed to over the last two seasons.
The Jets threw the ball just 480 times in 2013 (29th in the league; 30 per game), and that may not change dramatically this year. By comparison, the Broncos threw the ball 42.2 times per game last season (second-most in the league).
It’s safe to say Decker won’t put up numbers like he did in 2012 and 2013 this year, even in a best-case scenario where Vick wins the starting job, stays healthy and shows flashes of his previous form. So Decker’s upside is obviously limited, but I think at the right price he can still be a valuable piece for fantasy owners. His days as an every-week starter may be over now, but Decker has some appeal as a WR3 and occasional starter in PPR leagues this year.
Bye Week: Week 11
Projected Round: Eighth Round
Auction Value: $4 (ESPN.com)
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.