Thursday Night Matchup: A Tale of Two Organizations
The return of Le’veon Bell (right) gives the Jets a boost. (Robert Deutsch-USA Today Sports)
This week, Thursday Night Football features a lopsided contest between the New York Jets (5-8) and the Baltimore Ravens (11-2). With home field advantage, a first round bye, and the No. 1 seed on the line, the Ravens are expected to crush the Jets. But with Le’veon Bell back in the fray and Sam Darnold healthy, Head Coach Adam Gase has a chance to prove his worth… but who are we kidding?
New York Jets
After winning four of their last five contests, the Jets travel to Baltimore to take on an actual organization with a winning record. Gase should be fired… into the sun. QB Darnold is wasting his sophomore year, mustering just 216-2,424-15 with 11 interceptions and an 84.3 passer rating. Moreover the Jets’ offensive line ranks 28th in adjusted rush yards and 30th in adjusted sack rate while Baltimore’s pass defense ranks top 10 in average opponent passing yards, opponent completion percentage, and opponent passer rating. Expect Baltimore to blitz more and Darnold to put up meh QB2 numbers.
Bowling fanatic (see video below) Bell missed his last game because of the “flu,” but is expected to play on Thursday. Pushing the squeaky wheel narrative, he laments that he is not getting enough touches. In the 12 games he has started, Bell has produced 49.1 rush yards per game, 5.6 targets per game and four touchdowns. Like the rest of the Jets, he is hard to trust against a stout Ravens defense, especially under Head Coach Gase’s “leadership.”
Replacing Bell in Week 13, Bilal Powell played 70 per cent snap count to Ty Montgomery‘s 30 last Sunday. Powell is obviously the handcuff apparent, but won’t see meaningful production until Bell exits field right.
Darnold’s target distribution with Bell: Jamison Crowder (58); Demaryius Thomas (52); Robby Anderson (50); Bell (44); Ryan Griffin (34); Vyncint Smith (15); Montgomery (eight); Powell (seven); Braxton Berrios (four); Daniel Brown (two); Chris Herndon (two); and Trevon Wesco (one).
Contrary to the label of being Darnold’s security blanket, slot receiver Crowder has been wildly inconsistent, especially of late. In the last three games, he’s averaged 3/19/0 versus 5/56/0.3 beforehand. It’s fair to speculate if Crowder is nursing an injury. In addition to TE Griffin waking up in recent weeks, Crowder has a daunting matchup against CB Marlon Humphreys. Expect Crowder to underperform as a WR3.
Coincidentally, Anderson has been heating up while Crowder has slid. Anderson cleared back-to-back 100 yard games in Weeks 13 and 14 after achieving that feat only once previously this year. The streaky receiver has a good matchup on paper against slightly-better-than-average CB Marcus Peters. Allowing an average of 5.5 targets and 55 yards per game, Peters has been leaky against speedy players. Anderson boasts a 40 yard dash time of 4.36 seconds versus Peters’ 4.53.
Questionable scratch Thomas is averaging 4.6 targets per game, but has failed to clear 90 yards this season. Relegated to 52 per cent snap count last week, he’s a fade WR4 against CB Jimmy Smith. Doubtful scratch Griffin exploded following Herndon’s placement on IR. If Griffin is unable to suit up, TE Smith is expected to start. Smith and Crowder are likely to cannibalize targets but neither has an ideal matchup.
MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ organization deserve a lot of respect. By embracing analytics and roster changes in the offseason, Baltimore finds itself on top of the AFC. No need to sugarcoat it, lock Jackson in and expect QB1 numbers against a pass-funnelling Jets’ D.
Hilariously, Mark Ingram‘s role of first string running back is continually usurped by Jackson. Regardless, Ingram has been a solid Fantasy asset, producing 181-887-9 (for the curious, Jackson: 151-1,017-7) on the ground and 23-201-3 in the air. Ingram has a strangely daunting matchup against a Jets defence allowing just 78 yards per game and three yards per carry, top three in both categories. He’s likely to put up decent RB2 numbers, especially if Baltimore runs the clock out. Gus Edwards has not flirted with Fantasy relevance yet.
Jackson’s target distribution since the Week Four loss to the Browns: Mark Andrews (50); Marquise Brown (29); Willie Snead (28); Nick Boyle (25); Hayden Hurst (21); Seth Roberts (20); Ingram (18); Miles Boykin (10); Chris Moore (four); Edwards (two); and Justice Hill (two).
Commanding a 22 per cent target share, Andrews is averaging 55 yards on four receptions. Although the Jets’ pass D offers tremendous upside to receivers, tight ends have mostly been stifled by safety Jamal Adams. Andrews has a trap game in store for him against the Jets who are allowing 40 yards on fewer than four targets per game against tight ends. Temper Fantasy expectations to low TE1 status.
Brown and Snead have beautiful matchups against the rotating secondary of Darryl Roberts, Nate Hairston, and Blessuan Austin, all of whom are allowing a passer rating of over 100. Fire up Brown as a WR2 and Snead as a chalk WR3. Hurst and Boyle make interesting FLEX plays this week. If Adams manages to stifle Andrews, Hurst or Boyle could hit their DFS upside this week.
Game odds: O/U: 44; BAL -10; (BAL 27 NYJ 17).
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Roxy Music got its start in England in 1970, going on to have a phenomenal career, albeit one that included many extended breaks along the way. Front man Bryan Ferry had a pretty damn fine solo career himself, and in 2000, he released a compilation album called Slave to Love: The Best of the Ballads, which featured a combination of Roxy Music and solo tunes. From this effort comes “More Than This,” originally from Avalon, and also featured in the movie Lost in Translation (as you can see in this video).
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below how you think Thursday Night’s game will turn out from a Fantasy perspective.