Can Eric Decker Be A Fantasy Stud For The New York Jets?
Last season, the New York Jets’ passing game was abominable, to put it nicely. In need of weapons to help young quarterback Geno Smith, the team grabbed former Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker. But will Decker be able to keep up his production for fantasy owners after such a drastic change in scenery?
Decker, ranked 24th and 25th in non-PPR and PPR leagues respectively by NFL.com, will certainly have a challenge ahead of him if he wants to maintain his production from last year. He racked up 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season while catching passes from Peyton Manning in an absolutely fearsome Broncos offense that finished first in Football Outsiders‘ passing offense rankings. Decker is moving into an offense that finished 28th in those same pass offense rankings, while downgrading from arguably the best field general in the game to an unproven commodity in Geno Smith.
And just what a downgrade in teammate quality Decker will experience this year cannot possibly be understated. Decker, somehow, went from being Peyton Manning’s second option to his fourth depending on the game, as he was flanked by the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas. This year, he is easily going to be Geno Smith’s top target, and will be joined by players like Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and Jeff Cumberland.
What does this paradigm shift mean for Decker and his fantasy owners? It means that owners should not rely on Decker for consistent fantasy production.
While this is clearly not what fantasy owners or, more importantly, Jets fans want to hear, it is objectively true. Eric Decker will see a drop in production in moving from a team with the best aerial attack in the NFL to one of the worst passing offenses in the league. And that is before you consider what will be the biggest challenge for Decker this season: matching up with each team’s top cornerback.
In his time with Denver, Decker had the luxury of being defended by a team’s second corner, or even their nickelback depending on where Broncos offensive coordinator
Peyton Manning Adam Gase lined him up. This year, he’ll go one on one with each team’s best corner week in and week out. Looking at the Jets’ schedule, here are some of the notable corners Decker will have to take on this season.
- Cortland Finnegan (Miami – twice)
- Ike Taylor (Pittsburgh)
- Brandon Browner or Darrelle Revis (Patriots – twice)
- Aqib Talib (Denver)
- Charles Tillman (Chicago)
- Sam Shields or Tramon Williams (Green Bay)
- Jason McCourty (Tennessee)
That’s nine of the Jets’ 16 games in which Eric Decker is going to be faced with the task of beating a top notch corner. Of course, this doesn’t factor in games where Geno Smith struggles and Chris Johnson plays less like CJ2K and more like the Chris Johnson of the last couple of seasons. With all of these concerns surrounding Decker and the Jets’ offense, is he realistically a top 25 wide receiver from a fantasy perspective?
Overall, it seems that Eric Decker is a decent option at WR2, but is going to struggle to be consistent in an offense that will have to rely on him so heavily.
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