Thursday Night Football Breakdown- Broncos vs Jets
Published by Michael Garrity
For the second straight week, we have another “exciting” Thursday Night Football game.The Broncos will travel to Metlife Stadium to face off against the Jets. Both of these teams are undefeated in the loss column, and will look to change that tonight.
In the preseason, I think we would all be excited for this game. The Broncos underwent many changes in the offseason. They upgraded their run game with Melvin Gordon and paired him with Phillip Lindsay. The Broncos also added two rookie wide receivers in Jeudy and Hamler, forming quite the receiving core with returning star Courtland Sutton and second year player Noah Fant. With all of these weapons at Drew Lock's disposale, it’s safe to say this offense was projected to be among the league's best. Well…. That didn’t age well. With Drew Lock on the sideline with a shoulder injury, Phillip Lindsay being doubtful, and Courtland Sutton on IR for the season, this offense was plagued by injuries. Brett Rypien, son of former NFL player Mark Rypien, has been named the starter tonight. He will take control of the offense in hopes of redeeming himself after last week, as he threw for 59 yards and a pick.
Similar to the Broncos, the Jets offense has also been plagued by injuries. Le'veon Bell has already been ruled out for tonight's game and will aim for a Week five return, as he suffered a hamstring injury Week one. Breshad Perriman is also out tonight, along with rookie Denzel Mims. There is good news however, Jamison Crowder is likely to play tonight. After a sensational performance in Week one, Crowder hasn’t seen the field since with a hamstring injury. Darnold will have his WR1 tonight, as he looks to lead this team to 1-3.
While the Jets are looking for their first win, all Jets fans would prefer to lose. Firing HC Adam Gase would be music to every fans ears. With a loss likely looming in the Jets future, they will likely be searching for a new coach on Friday. I expect the Broncos to win this game, purely because they have the better roster. Although both teams aren’t nearly close healthy, I think Denver gets it done tonight.
In this article, I will analyze all fantasy-relevant players on both teams, and tell you if they are worth a start or a sit for Week One.
Sam Darnold, NYJ- Jets fans, I feel your pain. Darnold has been the complete opposite of impressive this season, posting more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3) this season. He has yet to score more than 15 fantasy points, and hasn’t surpassed more than 220 passing yards in any game. While this seems like a completely unacceptable start to the season for a starting QB, which it is, we have to look at the matchups and his circumstance.
Darnold’s last three games have been against Buffalo, San Francisco, and Indianapolis. Two of those were on the road. All three of these teams have great defenses, and are very good at defending Quarterbacks, particularly the 49ers and Colts. The Colts have allowed the least amount of points to Quarterbacks this season (10.7), and the 49ers have allowed the sixth least (16.2). I imagine the 49ers number would be a lot higher considering the injuries that occured in Week two. Darnold is now facing a defense that has suffered severe injuries. With Jurrell Casey out for the season, as well as Von Miller and AJ Bouye on IR, this defense is not the same. They have allowed 20.8 fantasy points to Quarterbacks this season as well. Even with this information, I would even think of starting Darnold, let alone adding him to your roster. Until Gase is out of New York, Darnold should be on the waivers.
Brett Rypien, DEN- Rypien has had quite the story on his path to becoming the starter for the Broncos. After being an undrafted free agent in 2019, he was signed to the Broncos practice squad. He endured being released, waived, and everything in between. With Lock going down Week two, Rypien’s opportunity was presented to him in the third game of the season vs Tampa Bay. He completed his first eight passes before throwing an interception on the ninth throw.
Rypien still has weapons to work with in the absences of Lindsay and Sutton. He still has star rookie Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, and Melvin Gordon. The Jets defense has been surprisingly tough on Quarterbacks this season, they've allowed the twelfth least amount of fantasy points per game (18.8). This will be Rypien’s first start as an NFL player, so that alone is enough for me to not start him. He’s not experienced enough in game-like situations, and Lock will be back next week to take over the starting role. Rypien should be on waivers.
Frank Gore, Kalen Ballage, NYJ- The only startable back, and I’m not saying to start either of these players, is Frank Gore. Gore has averaged 18 carries per game in the absence of Le'veon Bell. While that may be an RB1 type workload, Gore has yet to eclipse 65 yards on the ground. Ballage has managed most of the receiving work out of the backfield, as he’s recorded seven catches in the last two games.
Gore and Ballage are going against a stout Denver run defense, as they allow the seventh least fantasy points per game to opposing Running Backs (14) and seventh least rushing yards per game (102.3). Neither of these players should be plugged into your lineup, and Ballage shouldn’t be owned. Both of their values will be non-existent when Bell is back.
Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, DEN- According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, Lindsay is unlikely to play tonight. It hasn’t been officially announced that he is out yet. For now, we are planning on Lindsay to play tonight. Melvin Gordon has been a solid back this season, he’s the RB19 so far in 2020. Gordon’s played well in Lindsay’s absence against some of the best run defenses in the NFL. He’s managed to score 15.6 points against the Titans and 16.4 points against the Steelers, recording one touchdown in each game. He was a dud in Week three against Tampa Bay, scoring 7.8 points on eight rushes for 26 yards. He will look to make up for his performance tonight.
The Jets run defense is not good, they allow 24 fantasy points per game to opposing backs. If Lindsay plays, he will cut into Gordon’s snap count, but not by much. I expect him to be on limited snaps tonight, so Gordon will still be serviceable as an RB2 or flex option. If Lindsay does play, I think you should keep him on your bench. The matchup might be good, but I would wait a week to make sure he’s 100%.
Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, NYJ- In the last two games, Berrios has been Darnolds only reliable option. He’s surpassed 15 fantasy points in the past two games, and has scored a touchdown in both. Berrios has also averaged a 19.4% target share the last two games, which is a team high. After two legit performances against two legit secondaries, you can ask the question “Is Berrios worth a roster add?” My opinion is maybe.
The reason I say that is because Perriman and Crowder have been absent the past two weeks, and both of them being OUT heavily dictated his level of performances. When both of them come back, especially with the possibility of Crowder returning tonight, I think his value goes down significantly. Remember, Crowder posted a WR1 statline in Week one against Buffalo. He had seven catches for 115 yards and one score, all while lined up against Tre White. I expect that Crowder will play tonight, therefore Berrios’ will go into the WR2 role. If you have no other options at WR, I’m talking to the guys in 18-20 man leagues, then you can maybe start him as a flex due to his matchup. Denver allows the fifth most fantasy points per game to wideouts this season (29.5), so Berrios could be worth a start. Proceed with caution if you do this. If Crowder plays, I would start him at flex.
Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, DEN- Jeudy is the last man standing that I would even think about starting in this receiving core. He’s averaging a respectable four catches for 57 yards on the season, and is fresh off two straight double digit fantasy performances. With Sutton out for the season, Jeudy will now move to the WR1 in this offense, and Hamler will move into the WR2/3.
Even with Jeudy’s new role in the offense, I would wait to start him for a few reasons. A key reason is the Quarterback situation. I trust Jerry Jeudy as a player, but I don’t trust who’s throwing to him. Rypien has next to nothing when it comes to NFL game experience, so I think that will play a huge factor tonight. The Jets don’t have a terrible pass defense either (15th best). When Lock returns in either Week five or six, that is when I would start him. I trust Lock a lot more, and the volume will be there. As for Hamler, I’m not starting him. He is too big play dependent and I don’t think Rypien can produce those types of throws. If you are in really bad shape on receiver depth, I think Jeudy is a decent flex play. I would refrain from starting Hamler.
Chris Herndon, NYJ- Hernon has been quite disappointing so far this season. He’s recorded only 63 yards and 10 catches through three games, all of which were single digit fantasy point games. There are many things you could argue to make excuses for Herndon’s performances. One being his matchups, as both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis rank first and second in points allowed to Tight Ends (1.1 for Colts and 2 for Steelers). Another can be Darnolds turnover problem, and his awful head coach. Regardless of those things, Herndon is not the player we hyped him up to be through the first three weeks of the season. I may be saying that too early, but his matchups don’t get any better from here. For the rest of the season, Herndon doesn’t play a single defense other than the Browns that allow more than 10.4 fantasy points per game to opposing Tight Ends. Considering his future schedule, and all of Darnolds weapons coming back in the next two-three weeks, I don’t know how much longer Herndon can be owned. His target share will go down, as will his numbers.
Tonight will be Herndon’s easiest matchup, as the Broncos allow 10.2 fantasy points per game to Tight Ends. If you are going to start Herndon, I would suggest doing it this week. That opportunity will be slim moving forward.
Noah Fant, DEN- Noah Fant has been excellent this season. He is currently the TE3 on the season, and is averaging 15.5 fantasy points through three games.
Tonight, Fant will endure the same thing that Jeudy and Hamler have to, which is the unpredictability of their Quarterback’s performance. With that being said, Fant should still be started. He’s proven to be reliable so far this season, and he plays a weak Jets defense that allows 10.4 fantasy points per game. If there is anyone on the Broncos that is a must-start, it’s Fant.
Jets D/ST, Broncos D/ST- neither of these defenses will be startable any other week of the season other than tonight. Both of these offenses have 1.7 turnovers per game, and both give up at least one INT per game. If you were to stream a defense, I would do the Jets. The Broncos defense will be on the field longer with an unproven Quarterback in Rypien, and have undergone severe injuries to some of their best players. However due to the turnover rates of both of these teams, the Jets and Broncos D/ST make for fine streaming options.
Sam Ficken NYJ, Brandon McManus DEN- The Broncos and Jets both rank in the bottom four in touchdowns per game. This will most likely be a low scoring game, so both teams could rely on their kickers tonight. I think there are better streaming options on the waiver wire, but if there aren’t you can start both of these guys.
Good luck to all of you this week!