Dec 10

Jets secondary still vulnerable to WR2s; Brandon LaFell up next

We spent a great deal of time leading up to Week 14 discussing the anticipated value of Andre Holmes against the New York Jets given his role as WR2 in Oakland and the statistical weakness of the Jets defense against that position, highlighted by our Mike Omelan.

Holmes wasn’t exactly a fantasy dynamo this week. While his three catch, seven target outing produced 63 yards and was more useful than many of the other waiver wire options available, it wasn’t the performance we were anticipating when getting behind the second year receiver.

With that said, we stand behind our stats – just not their application this week. Rod Streater, playing opposite Holmes, did have a monster fantasy day, seeing 10 targets from Matt McGloin and posting 130 yards with a score. We got it wrong – the Jets still struggle against WR2s, they just decided that this week’s two man was Streater and not Holmes.

We’ll explain why in a moment, but first our explanation and apology from Monday Night’s Inside the Locker Room broadcast (the discussion kicks in at the 22:30 mark, but go ahead and treat yourself – watch the whole thing).

So, here is how it went down in Week 14. For starters, Streater has proven a reliable fantasy option with Matt McGloin in the lineup and we were expecting reasonable production from him as well. It’s not like this guy came out of nowhere to eclipse Holmes, he has been ahead of him on the depth chart all season. Beyond that, though the fact is that the Jets focused their coverage on shutting down Holmes and not on Streater.

Antonio Cromartie‘s play has leveled off a bit this season after a strong 2012 campaign but he remains far and above the best Jet CB seeing more snaps in pass coverage than any of his peers. He’s the guy they put on the opponent’s top man. (In Week 14 for example, he was on Brian Hartline for just one target while covering Mike Wallace for five. In Week 12, it was Torrey Smith for four and Jacoby Jones for one. It goes on like that).

As the next WR2 to face the Jets Brandon could find himself LaFellin' into the endzone (Photo: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

As the next WR2 to face the Jets Brandon could find himself LaFellin’ into the endzone (Photo: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

This week, it seems that Rex Ryan and co. deemed Holmes to be the man to stop. Of his seven pass targets, five came against Cromartie’s coverage with the other two split against Dee Milliner and Ed Reed. Meanwhile, Streater drew Cromartie just once (full disclosure, he roasted him for a 48 yard score) and spread his remaining ten targets out over six additional New York defensive backs. The Jets put their top man on Holmes, allowing Streater to find openings against a myriad of defenders.

So. We were wrong, but I believe in our logic.

This week, the Jets face Carolina. I moved Brandon LaFell ahead of Steve Smith in my rest of season ranks some time ago based on the way they have been distributing the ball in Riverboat Ron’s system, but I cannot envision a scenario where the Jets don’t commit to stopping the veteran Smith above all others. If that is the case, expect LaFell to roll. The Jets are giving up the fifth most points to the WR position on the season and over 28 per game through the last four weeks. LaFell, meanwhile has drawn a respectable 74 targets from Cam Newton and faces a Jets team that has allowed no fewer than 9.3 fantasy points to a WR2 since Marvin Jones‘ four touchdown outing in Week 8. There are plenty of points to be had through the air here, and I’m betting on LaFell producing his fair share of them.

A 6-70-TD line would be his 3rd best fantasy outing of the season but isn’t out of range against a leaky unit. Start LaFell as a WR2/3 option with confidence this week.

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