by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Instead of getting a Thursday night blowout (which we have become accustomed to), the Jets kept it close by controlling the clock and keeping the ball from Tom Brady and company. Geno Smith produced a solid performance (226 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), though no one is going to confuse him with a viable fantasy option. What questions did we get answered for us last night? Let’s take a look:
1) Did we get any clarity on the Patriots’ running back situation?
Maybe a little bit, but not really. As we suspected Branden Bolden didn’t operate as the “big back” and, while we would’ve thought he would’ve gotten a few touches, he didn’t even handle a carry last night (he did have 1 reception). He’s too valuable to the team as a special teamer, so don’t expect much from him the remainder of the season.
After that chances are the team’s thinking changes on a weekly basis. Last night it was Jonas Gray who was active and the secondary back, with James White inactive, but he was given just 3 carries (which he took for 12 yards). We have to remember that Gray wasn’t promoted from the practice squad until earlier in the day and could easily see his role expand, with time, while White has repeatedly been a healthy inactive. Gray could have the highest upside, but at this point he’s nothing more than a stash in deeper formats to see if he can fully takeover Stevan Ridley’s role.
Then we get to Vereen, who was clearly the most useful option last night as he had 11 carries for 43 yards and 5 receptions (on 8 targets) for 71 yards and 2 TD. It was the first time he scored since Week 1 and the second time all season that he’s had more than 75 total yards. While it’s easy to assume that he’s going to continue playing this type of role, we have to remember that his biggest contribution came in the passing game and not the running game. With the chance of Gray emerging, as well as the passing attack focusing more on Rob Gronkowski and company, Vereen is hardly going to be a guarantee each week. Obviously he needs to be owned, but we’d continue to view him more as a low-end RB2/FLEX option as opposed to a must start.
2) Has Chris Ivory truly emerged as a viable fantasy option?
It was clear that the Jets went into last night’s game planning on running the football and controlling the clock and they succeeded in doing so:
- Chris Ivory – 21 carries for 107 yards and 1 TD (4 receptions for 18 yards)
- Chris Johnson – 13 carries for 61 yards (2 receptions for 19 yards)
Ivory has been the more productive running back and deserves lead back duties, but it’s hard to imagine him getting anything close to this many touches on a weekly basis. Remember he had 17 carries, total, over the past two games so part of his success was clearly tied to the team’s game plan.
We will get a much better feel for Ivory and his potential next week, as the Jets take on a Bills’ defense allowing an anemic 2.8 yards per carry. Obviously Ivory is going to be worth considering on a weekly basis, but we’d like to see him be consistently utilized before fully committing to him. He should be seeing at least 15+ carries per week (and if he did he’d be a must start), but until the team commits to that he’s going to be more of a RB2/FLEX option.
3) Is Tom Brady officially back to being a must start quarterback?
Remember when everyone was ready to write Brady off? That certainly shouldn’t be the case anymore as over the past three weeks he’s averaged about 305 yards and 3 TD. While we would’ve liked to see more from him against a pathetic Jets’ secondary (261 yards on a 54.1% completion rate), he still produced more than enough and was also hurt by a few drops from his receivers.
While we wouldn’t necessarily call him a must start option, given the depth at the position and a bit of uncertainty in his receiving corps, he’s clearly done more than enough to be put into consideration. It’s going to depend on matchups and your alternatives on if you actually utilize him or not.
4) What happened to Jace Amaro after his Week 6 breakout?
A week after exploding Amaro had a pedestrian 3 reception, 22 yard performance last night. He also saw Jeff Cumberland score a TD, while racking up 3 receptions for 50 yards.
While Amaro’s 5 targets tied for second on the team (behind Eric Decker, who had 7), we have to remember that he is a rookie tight end and with it is going to come inconsistency. Expecting to see him targeted 12 times each and every week (like he was in Week 6) simply isn’t going to happen even though he has the potential to be the team’s second best receiving option. He should continue to develop, but it may not be until 2015 that he becomes a trustworthy weekly tight end. He’s a much better fit for those in keeper/dynasty formats and shouldn’t be expected to be a weekly starter.
5) Shouldn’t Julian Edelman have feasted against the Jets last night?
Shouldn’t all of the Patriots’ receivers have produced last night? No one had more than 5 receptions or 55 yards (the two players who exceeded this were Vereen and Rob Gronkowski), with Edelman turning 9 targets into just 4 receptions for 44 yards. This type of performance has unfortunately become common place for Edelman, as you can see from his past four games:
- Week 4 – 4 receptions for 23 yards
- Week 5 – 5 receptions for 35 yards
- Week 6 – 9 receptions for 91 yards
- Week 7 – 4 receptions for 44 yards
It’s interesting, considering most of his inconsistencies have coincided with the resurgence of Tom Brady. After a strong start Edelman has completely disappeared as the Patriots’ receiving corps now has a similar feel to its running backs as you simply don’t know who the go to guy will be. Will it be Edelman? How about Brandon LaFell? Maybe Brian Tyms? While Edelman should still be viewed as the best option, at this point he’s more of a WR3 until he starts producing again.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings: