Now that Santonio Holmes is out for the season with a foot injury, there are opportunities for a New York Jets wide receiver -- or two -- to step up and become relevant. The initial problem, of course, is that quarterback Mark Sanchez has played poorly since a 20-point fantasy performance in Week 1, and the schedule has been a challenge. Last week, the Jets were shut out by the San Francisco 49ers, likely the best NFC defense. This week, the Houston Texans and perhaps the top AFC defense visit North Jersey on Monday.
But eventually, whether it's Sanchez, Tim Tebow or Richard Todd slingin' the pigskin, someone on the Jets is going to have to catch some passes. Even the bad teams do it. Entering Week 5, the Jets as a team had caught 64 passes, second-lowest in the league, and now the fellow with nearly a third of them (20) is gone. That creates opportunity and potential in fantasy.
No, don't expect this to ever be an elite passing offense, but the best receivers on the worst passing offenses -- think Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars -- feature an ownable fantasy wide receiver or two (Sidney Rice, Justin Blackmon). And after this week, the schedule gets easier, with the Indianapolis Colts (currently the sixth-friendliest defense for fantasy wide receivers) in Week 6, the New England Patriots (ninth-easiest) in Weeks 7 and 12, the Miami Dolphins (seventh-easiest) in Week 8 and other goodies like a Buffalo Bills rematch later.
Here in the Friday Sneaky Pickups blog entry, we're not looking at the current week, but down the line and at deeper leagues. So, even if the Jets get blown out at home again by a top team this week, at least we'll see how the new wide receiver hierarchy looks. ESPN Fantasy owners have noticed the potential opportunities and made Jeremy Kerley one of the most-added wide receivers this week, which is wise, though he's still owned in fewer than 30 percent of standard leagues. Kerley has already scored three touchdowns, which is one-third of the team's total, and he's the longest-tenured wide receiver on the active roster, in only his second season!
However, we dig deeper in this space, and Jason Hill, signed by the team just this week, is also someone that should become relevant quickly. Hill is no relation to prized rookie Stephen Hill, he of the 89 yards, two touchdowns and 20 fantasy points in Week 1. But the second-round pick hasn't done anything since, partially due to a hamstring injury, and he might not play Monday night. Frankly, Stephen Hill should be owned in more than 18 percent of ESPN leagues, but in deeper formats, where Kerley and Stephen Hill are already owned, keep an eye on former Jacksonville Jaguars and 49ers veteran Jason Hill.
The veteran Hill is 27 years old, and told reporters Wednesday he aims to improve the team's morale. If only that directly translated into fantasy points. Still, he's fast and experienced and the lone 100-yard receiving performance of his career came roughly one year ago, when he took a deep Blaine Gabbert pass 74 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, en route to a 118-yard outing. One would think Hill will want to make an immediate impact, assuming he gets a chance, and certainly Sanchez has something to prove. And with this crew, Hill should get a chance. If I'm ranking current Jets wide receivers for the rest of the season, I'd go Stephen Hill first, then Kerley, but would take the virtually unowned Jason Hill over the brittle Chaz Schilens, who is likely to start this week, and long shot Clyde Gates.
Quarterback: Speaking of the J-E-T-S, if Sanchez is pulled on Sunday for Tebow, and you need quarterback help, you'll be fighting with everyone else in the league to get the fantasy-relevant Tebow next week. Just do it now. Sure, perhaps your mailman throws a cleaner, better pass than Tebow does, but Tebow was a top-10 quarterback for fantasy on a per-game basis his first two seasons, thanks to his legs. ... Otherwise, little has changed at quarterback. Michael Vick is still standing, though you've been warned about Nick Foles. Russell Wilson is still struggling, but well-paid Matt Flynn is too hurt (elbow) to start. Matt Hasselbeck isn't the worst two-QB league investment now that Jake Locker is out. And even if Matt Cassel is yanked, do you really want Kansas City Chiefs backup Brady Quinn? I don't.
Running back: One of the reasons Arian Foster has handled such a large load is because Ben Tate, also known as the best handcuff in the league, has been dealing with a sore toe. The third-stringer is Justin Forsett, who certainly had moments of relevancy for the Seattle Seahawks prior to Marshawn Lynch exploding last season. Hey, the Texans turned to a third-string QB last year. A third-string RB mattering is certainly not outrageous. ... Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs are owned in nearly the same percentage of leagues, and Jacobs just got healthy, but I'd prefer to add Hunter if something happened to Frank Gore. ... More Jets: Shonn Greene is still starting, but Bilal Powell will be a factor this month. ... Tampa Bay is on a bye this week, but a healthy LeGarrette Blount is going to cut into rookie Doug Martin's carries.
Wide receiver: We saw St. Louis Rams speedster Chris Givens score his first touchdown Thursday night, and he's a legit deep threat. The Danny Amendola injury stinks and opens up opportunity for Givens and Brandon Gibson. ... Back in August, more than a few of us called San Diego Chargers soph Vincent Brown a sleeper, but then he broke his left ankle in a preseason game. He's on injured reserve but can be brought back, though there hasn't been an update recently. ... A name to watch this week against the Chargers is New Orleans Saints undrafted free agent Joe Morgan. He showed his speed on an 80-yard touchdown jaunt in Week 4, and Lance Moore is dealing with a hamstring injury. The more the team loses, the more it will look at youngsters.
Have a great weekend, and best of luck in Week 5 and beyond!