The end of an era is upon us: The Green Bay Packers have traded quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets. In what seems like an unimaginable divorce, 16 years after first uniting, the Packers and Favre are no longer attached at the hip.
Now, the 18th-year veteran signal caller will be the starting quarterback for the Jets in 2008, and perhaps beyond, but what does that mean for fantasy owners?
Fantasy owners have taken notice
Obviously, Favre showed last year that he can still get it done after a couple of down seasons. Statistically speaking, a downturn in his production should be expected. He has to learn a new offense and gain chemistry in a short period of time with the team around him; he has a tremendous amount of pressure on his shoulders and now has to play in a tougher conference. Naturally, the inflated level of competition should affect his turnover figures in a negative sense, and we all know that Favre is no stranger to handing over the rock to the wrong colored jersey.
Favre's current 14th-round average draft placement isn't a fair indicator; expect him to be as high as a fourth-round pick by uninformed owners but more properly a sixth- or seventh-rounder. View Favre as a weak No. 1 option in standard formats. If you are capable of drafting him as your backup, this is probably where you will find his best value.
KFFL Projection: 3,896 yards, 26 touchdowns, 19 interceptions
Quarterback Chad Pennington has been released and figures to sign on with someone else in the coming days. Quarterback Kellen Clemens is the clear-cut No. 2 option and rookie passer Erik Ainge is expected to serve as the emergency quarterback. Neither Clemens nor Ainge have fantasy value in single-year formats in 2008.
Running back Thomas Jones remains entrenched as the starter in the offense, and he is capable of shouldering the load when called upon. Last season, Jones rushed the ball 310 times for 1,119 yards but scored just one measly touchdown. His 3.6 yards-per-carry average just didn't cut it. The Jets realized they needed to give Jones a hand in the offseason, so they acquired All-Pro left guard Alan Faneca (Pittsburgh Steelers) via free agency. Right tackle Damien Woody (Detroit Lions) was signed in the offseason, and he is expected to be an opening day starter.
Prior to last season, Jones averaged 1,273 yards and 7.5 touchdowns per game with the Chicago Bears from 2005 to 2006. Should Jones be able to return to those averages this year, Favre is in good shape as far as the running support goes.
Jones is being undervalued by fantasy owners, with an average draft position of the early fifth round. Expect that figure to climb closer to the fourth round now that Favre is in the mix. Opposing defenses will have to respect Favre's arm and can't stack the box as heavily as they would have with Pennington or Clemens at the helm.
Jones is rarely spelled, and he is quite durable.
Table: Jets' top two utilized running backs (2007)
Clearly, Jones is their guy both between the 20s and inside the 5. Jones was the sixth-most utilized running back in the entire league last year.
View Jones as a strong No. 3 sleeper back with reasonable upside. It is not realistic to expect him to score only two total times again, and we fully expect him to bounce back from last year's pedestrian showing.
KFFL Projection: 304 attempts, 1,262 rushing yards, eight touchdowns; 26 receptions, 172 receiving yards, one touchdown
Running back Leon Washington is a change-of-pace option and occasionally spells Jones. Look for Washington to be utilized mostly as a receiver out of the backfield and a checkdown option for Favre. Washington's average draft placement is around the end of the 13th or the early 14th round. His fantasy value is that of a handcuff to Jones and a weak No. 4 or a strong No. 5 fantasy back.
KFFL Projection: 69 attempts, 324 rushing yards, two touchdowns; 34 receptions, 269 receiving yards, one touchdown
Tailback Jesse Chatman figures to battle for the backup duties behind Jones. His role has not yet been determined, but it doesn't appear as though he has fantasy value at this time. Drafting him isn't advised, but Chatman could prove to be a waiver wire option if Jones falls to injury. He is not drafted, on average.
KFFL Projection: not currently ranked
Catching those bullet passes
Who will be collecting those rifled spirals from Favre in '08? The top receiver for the Jets is Laveranues Coles, who is coming off a shortened season due to a concussion and ankle sprain. In 12 games, Coles snagged 55 balls for 646 yards and six touchdowns. In 2006, Coles enjoyed a 91-reception, 1,098-yard, six-touchdown effort. As a No. 3 fantasy receiver capable of producing No. 2 stats, Coles makes for a quality pick in your draft. His average draft placement is Round 7, which may be on the rise with the addition of Favre.
KFFL Projection: 86 receptions, 1,127 receiving yards, seven touchdowns
The No. 2 receiver, Jerricho Cotchery, built upon his breakout 2006 season. In that year, the North Carolina State product hauled in 82 passes for 961 yards and six touchdowns. Following his impressive performance, there was a lot of hype surrounding Cotchery heading into the 2007 season. He didn't disappoint owners by catching 82 passes again. This time around, he improved his per-reception average by 2.1 yards per catch, registering 1,130 yards in the process. The downside is that Cotchery scored just two times. As a weak No. 2, Cotchery is an excellent choice. His average draft position is the seventh round. Cotchery has more value in point-per-reception formats.
KFFL Projection: 79 receptions, 1,003 receiving yards, six touchdowns
In Coles' stead, rookie quarterback-turned-wideout Brad Smith impressed those that actually took notice. He caught 32 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Smith started nine games, four in place of Coles. At 6-foot-2, Smith is the tallest receiver on the roster. If you are extraordinarily desperate in very deep leagues, take a final flier on Smith, who has not been drafted in polled leagues.
KFFL Projection: 33 receptions, 370 receiving yards, three touchdowns
The expected fourth receiver is Chansi Stuckey, who didn't see any game action during his 2007 rookie season. Standing 6-foot, weighing 196 pounds, Stuckey is a quick, shifty receiver and could cause some damage after the catch. Stuckey has no fantasy value.
KFFL Projection: 22 receptions, 284 receiving yards, one touchdown
Table: Jets wide receiver utilization (2007)
At tight end, Chris Baker is the expected starter despite a contractual beef with the Jets. He is coming off a career year in which he pulled down 41 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns. The season before, Baker caught 31 balls for 300 yards and four scores. In a best-case scenario, Baker ("the Touchdown Maker") is a moderate No. 2 fantasy tight end that you can pick up off your waiver wire. He is, on average, not drafted.
KFFL Projection: 44 receptions, 466 receiving yards, four touchdowns
Favre will be reunited with one of his former favorite targets, tight end Bubba Franks. Expected to serve as the No. 2 tight end, Franks could enjoy a better season that expected, especially if Baker's contractual situation takes a nasty turn for the worse. Nonetheless, Franks has no fantasy value at this time.
KFFL Projection: 29 receptions, 261 receiving yards, four touchdowns
The Jets, ironically enough, traded with the Packers to acquire Green Bay's 2008 first-round pick. With that selection, the 30th overall, New York chose tight end Dustin Keller. Don't expect much out of Keller this season, despite him being extremely athletic. Rookie tight ends rarely contribute much in the way of fantasy production. At best, he is a waiver wire option late in the season.
KFFL Projection: 18 receptions, 198 receiving yards, one touchdown
Table: Jets tight end utilization (2007)
Note: Franks' numbers with the Packers
All Favred out
As most of you would agree, we have heard way too much about Brett Favre in the last month. It's time for him to put up or shut up. He has an uphill battle ahead of him, and fantasy owners would be borderline foolish to believe that he will replicate last year's Cinderella campaign. We like him as a top backup or a very weak No. 1 option, but you don't want to stake your fantasy season on the arm of this future Hall of Famer.
Perhaps he will prove us wrong, but Favre probably won't be the godsend many Jets fans believe he is destined to be. Expect good but not great production from him, and temper your expectations for the entire offense. Everyone goes up a notch with him in the fold, but logic dictates we're on the right track with this one.
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.