It never ceases to amaze me that the majority of people will continue to buy “brand names” items, regardless of the price. This holds true in nearly all facets of society and even extends to fantasy football. Jamison Crowder is not a brand name item. Crowder played in all 16 games last season, starting 12. He led the Jets in targets (122), catches (78), receiving yards (833), and receiving touchdowns (6). Crowder was also quarterback Sam Darnold’s favorite receiver and served as his reliable safety net time and time again. They showed instant chemistry in Week 1 when Crowder had 14 catches in a loss to the Bills. Darnold’s absence due to mononucleosis led to a slump for Crowder (3 games, 8 rec, 75 yds, 0 TDs without Darnold). However, both players rebounded tremendously in the second half of the season.
From Week 9 on last year, Crowder was the 14th best WR in most fantasy formats. That stretch included four top-12 finishes, including two in the final three weeks of the fantasy season. During this time he tied for the league in touchdowns among wide receivers (6) with DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Breshad Perriman. For the entire season, PFF graded Crowder 40th among the 122 receivers who qualified. They had him as the fourth-highest graded slot receiver, behind only Chris Godwin, Tyler Lockett, and Golden Tate.
Crowder opens the 2020 season as one of the few players that both led his team in receiving last season and returns with continuity at the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and Quarterback positions on the team. On paper, the Jets depth chart at WR appears to have potentially gotten worse. Robby Anderson departed in free agency and Quincy Enunwa’s career may have just ended. Denzel Mims is an exciting prospect, but he is exactly that—a prospect. He and free-agent addition Breshad Perriman will be trying to learn a new offense, develop a rapport with Darnold, and adapt to playing in New York, all during a pandemic-shortened off-season.
As with any late-round value fantasy player, you can find a few risks with Crowder if you search for them. Chris Herndon comes to mind when you think about players that could potentially eat into Crowder’s target share, as they have a similar average depth-of-target over their careers. Additionally, opposing defenses will surely zero in on Crowder more this season and try to make it harder for him to find the same success. Fortunately, the aforementioned newcomer Breshad Perriman and his speed over the top should help keep defenses honest. And keep them from digging their heels in and loading up on New York’s short-to-intermediate passing game.
I feel that Crowder is talented enough to overcome player additions and offensive limitations. Additionally, it is a big year for Crowder as he is scheduled to make $10 million in 2021, but none of it is guaranteed. The Jets could easily move on from Crowder if he has a disappointing season in 2020. I’m willing to be on him. He is an accomplished route runner who shows veteran savvy and a blue-collar, workman-like approach to his game. For a diminutive player, he also makes contested catches in traffic.
Sam Darnold. Jamison Crowder.
— NFL (@NFL) December 13, 2019
While I feel great about Crowder’s safe floor and his potential upside, dynasty owners have to realize his circumstances and his ceiling. PFF shares that Crowder recorded 21 targeted incompletions that were deemed the QB’s fault last season. This was the 6th most in the league. He also has just a 10 percent rate of targets beyond 20-yards, good for 3rd lowest in the league. He finished 17th in targets but 30th in receiving yards last season. So, he certainly does not have a top 15 WR ceiling. Entering his age 27 season and with an uncertain future for Adam Gase, you should not invest high draft capital to acquire him.
All of that being considered, you do have to love the connection we’ve seen between Jamison Crowder and his quarterback, especially in the second half of last season. Fantasy football is all about volume and opportunity. Sam Darnold has shown he will give plenty of both to Crowder. In Adam Gase’s offense, one that is historically friendly to slot receivers, we witnessed Crowder become the first player in franchise history to record at least one receiving TD and 75 receiving yards in three consecutive games last season. His 58 receptions out of the slot were good for 4th in the NFL last year, behind only Julian Edelman, Cooper Kupp, and Larry Fitzgerald.
He is one of the safest 100+-target floors you’ll find in fantasy. Yes, being on a bad team limits the exposure Crowder gets. But, he has amazing potential to be a PPR monster in 2020 and beyond, and he does not come at the “brand name” draft capital or price.
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