Though it remains unclear if the Patriots have actually beaten anyone good so far in 2019, they’ve certainly looked dominant on their path to 6-0. The same can not be said of the Jets, who, until last week, were having a campaign defined by 3-and-outs, memes and mononucleosis. That’s really not the combination that I assume Adam Gase was striving for in his first season as head coach in New York. However, there appears to be some optimism surrounding the Jets after the return of starting QB Sam Darnold ($9,000) and an impressive victory over the Cowboys in Week 6.
Can the team carry that hope into a prime time matchup with the AFC East’s long-reigning King? Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
New York JetsIt’s undeniable that New York is a better team with Darnold under center, but I’d be hesitant to expect another performance like the one he had last Sunday against this vaunted Patriots defense. New England has yet to allow an opposing quarterback to score double-digit DKFP in 2019 and, while part of that is the level of competition it’s faced, more is based off of arguably the best secondary in football and a ferocious pass rush. The Patriots have used that combination of factors to limit teams to an AFC-low 161.0 passing yards per game and an NFL-low 4.6 passing yards per attempt. Another area of worry is somewhat self-inflicted by the Jets, though obviously not helped at all by injury. New York owned one of the worst offensive lines in the league last season and the team did little to fix this problem in the spring. So, it stands as unsurprising that the Jets currently possess an ugly 13.6% adjusted sack rate – the second-highest mark after six weeks of action. It’s an issue that doesn’t appear to have a solution, either. Especially considering Kelvin Beachum, Alex Lewis, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kahlil and Brian Winters are all listed as questionable or worse for this evening’s matchup. With New England having already collected an AFC-best 25 sacks, Darnold could be running for his life quite a bit on Monday.
Still, it’s not all bad news for the Jets’ sophomore pivot. At the very least, volume should be on his side. Due to the Patriots’ usual ability to get out to commanding leads, game flow has often dictated that New England’s opponents throw the football. A lot. In fact, the Patriots have induced an NFL-high 68.9% pass rate. Again, that volume has been relatively empty for opposing QBs the last six weeks, but that doesn’t mean someone on New York can’t stand to gain. Most likely, that person will be Jamison Crowder ($7,000). Honestly, there might not be a Jets player who missed Darnold as much as Crowder. The former Washington wideout has averaged 13.0 targets, 10.0 catches and 98.5 receiving yards in the two contests he’s been active alongside Darnold so far this season. His total output in the team’s three non-Darnold losses? Eight catches for a measly 75 yards. Yes, New England has surrendered the third-fewest PPR points per game to slot WRs so far this season (14.5) and Jonathan Jones is Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated slot CB in 2019, yet I’d still anticipate Darnold feeding Crowder the football, especially if he’s under pressure and needing to get rid of it quickly.
My expectations for Robby Anderson ($6,800) and Demaryius Thomas ($5,000) are more underwhelming. With the Patriots conceding only 121.5 receiving yards per game and a league-low 5.1 yards per target to opposing WR corps, picking more than one New York wideout to thrive seems frivolous. The presences of Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore don’t make matters all that inviting, either. Anderson, specifically, is in a tough spot. The Temple product fits into a pretty clear archetype as “big play” option at the position, but New England simply does not allow such breakdowns. The Patriots’ secondary has given up just two passing plays of over 40 yards through the first six weeks of the season and a mere 12 passing plays of over 20 yards – the third-lowest figure among all teams. Knowing that, it’s not all that shocking to realize, for his career, Anderson’s averaging a pitiful 24.1 yards per contest against New England. Additionally, he’s yet to find the end zone in his seven opportunities versus the Patriots.
Finally, that brings us to Le’Veon Bell ($9,200): New York’s most expensive asset on this slate. Bell managed his worst fantasy output of the year the last time these two squads met, mustering a microscopic 1.9 yards per carry on 18 attempts in a 30-14 loss during Week 3. From a statistical perspective, that result tracks with what we know about New England’s defense. The Patriots have surrendered an AFC-low 3.33 adjusted line yards per opponent rush and have also yet to allow a rushing touchdown to an opposing backfield. Conversely, the Jets have created the fewest adjusted line yards per carry of any offense in 2019 (3.23), a far cry from the offensive lines that Bell was used to running behind all those years in Pittsburgh. Bell’s salary is justified, he’s played 92.2% of New York’s offensive snaps and is certain to catch multiple passes in tonight’s tilt; however, with such a low touchdown expectancy, I’d rather save money on this side of the ball and spend up with New England.
New England PatriotsAt this point, we sort of have to lead-off our discussion of New England’s fantasy assets by talking about Patriots D/ST ($7,200). It’s rare to see a defense priced above $7K, but it’s difficult to argue with the results that have brought us here. New England’s defense is averaging a whopping 20.7 DKFP per game. They’ve never been held to a single-digit output in 2019, they lead the AFC in sacks, and they’ve forced a turnover on more than 20% of opponent drives. Still, that’s only the half of it. On the rare drives that don’t end with a Patriots’ defensive player running into the end zone with the ball, New England’s surrendered the fewest yards (17.6), lowest average time of possession (2:00), and the least amount of points (0.35). They’ve honestly been one of the most consistent pieces in all of Fantasy Football, not just among the other D/STs. It is fair to assume that regression is coming for the unit, as five defensive touchdowns in six contests is obviously an unstable arrangement; yet, with all of the Jets’ offensive line woes and Darnold’s massive career interception rate of 3.3%, I’m confident they’ll be viable again this evening.
Tom Brady ($11,600) is in a similar boat. He just screams consistency. It’s almost become unnerving when the veteran pivot doesn’t come through in a favorable matchup. According to DVOA, the Patriots have faced only one top-15 defense in their first six games of 2019: Buffalo. In that spot, Brady was held to a putrid 4.7 DKFP after not throwing a single touchdown and completing fewer than 50% of his passes. Aside from that blemish, Brady’s averaged 26.3 DKFP per start, a stretch that includes scoring 23.1 DKFP the last time he got to square off with this collection of New York players. Really, the more interesting aspect of Brady’s script tonight is who he’s going to throw the football to. Josh Gordon, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse have already been ruled out of Monday’s contest, while Julian Edelman ($11,200) and Phillip Dorsett ($6,600) come in as questionable. Still, it appears both are on track to be active, and that makes Edelman almost a lock to hit value. Overall, the veteran wideout possesses a team-high 24% target share; but, if Edelman’s 15 targets last week with Gordon limited to 25 snaps were any indication, the Kent State graduate should see a hefty amount of passes directed his way in Week 7. That won’t make Dorsett and, to a lesser extent, Jakobi Meyers ($5,400) any less viable, yet Edelman’s in a very enviable situation against an unremarkable Jets secondary. Ben Watson ($4,400) is also someone to take note of due to the glut of injuries, however, the TE’s floor is exceeding low.
Editor’s Note: Edelman and Dorsett will be active for tonight’s game vs. the Jets.
James White ($7,400) should also see a large role in the passing attack. White’s always enjoyed success when not having to compete with Rex Burkhead for snaps, yet, on top of that, it appears the release of Antonio Brown has mainly benefitted the diminutive running back. White’s played in three games since the Patriots parted ways with the former All Pro wideout – missing Week 3 due to the birth of his child – and, within that span, the 27-year-old’s been targeted 28 times. In fact, from Week 4 to Week 6, no RB has seen as many passes funneled in his direction as White, while only five players in total have had more pass catching opportunities. It just feels like White’s due for a touchdown based off his recent level of involvement. Plus, its not as if I’m jonesing to play any other New England running back. Sony Michel’s ($7,800) workload isn’t in question, but he continues to lose goal line carries to both Brandon Bolden ($3,200) and Brady himself. It’s been frustrating and it’s definitely something that can’t happen this evening with New York only conceding 3.5 yards per opponent rush – the lowest rate in the AFC. Sure, Patriots’ RBs are always confusing and I wouldn’t put it past Bill Belichick to get Michel three TDs a week after treating him like a leper in the red zone; however, the risk is too high and the floor is too low for a player this expensive.
THE OUTCOMENew England is actually only 1-5 ATS its past six trips to play the Jets in New York, but I’m not all that afraid of a trap game. When push comes to shove, I simply have too much faith in the Patriots’ defense and no trust at all in the Jets’ offensive line. As such, Tom Brady ($17,400 CP) and Julian Edelman ($16,800 CP) both make for great high-end Captain’s Picks, while Patriots D/ST ($10,800 CP) and James White ($11,100 CP) should be the way to go if you’re looking for a more balanced build.
Final Score: New England 27, New York 13
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.