With the NFL Draft and free agency having come and gone, we’ll break down all sorts of fantasy-relevant questions entering the 2018 season. Up next is a look at a breakout 25-year-old receiver who was on pace for an even bigger season before his quarterback went down.
Robby Anderson Was Even Better Than His Numbers Indicate
There wasn’t anything wrong with Anderson’s 63-941-7 line in 2017. He posted a five-game touchdown streak and gained over 100 yards on three separate occasions — all before losing quarterback Josh McCown for the remainder of the season in Week 14.
From Week 1 to Week 13, Anderson was top-10 among wide receivers in standard scoring and top-15 in point-per-reception scoring. He was one of just nine wide receivers during that span to average at least two yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus, and only Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Marvin Jones scored more touchdowns.
It’s hardly a surprise Anderson struggled with Bryce Petty under center in Weeks 14-17. Not only was Petty a severe downgrade from McCown, but the Jets faced a tough slate, going against the Broncos, Saints, Chargers, and Patriots, three of whom ranked among the top 10 defenses in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average against No. 1 wide receivers, per Football Outsiders.
According to NFL Next-Gen Stats, only Tyreek Hill created a higher average rate of separation than Anderson among wide receivers with 100-plus targets in 2017. Anderson’s game-changing speed was simply too much for most cornerbacks to handle without safety help.
The Offense Is in Good Hands
The Jets scored a total of 32 points over their final four games of last season as Petty posted an atrocious 49.1% completion rate and averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. Petty has since been released, and the Jets drafted Sam Darnold with the No.3 overall pick in the draft.
At USC, Darnold led a top-12 offense in both passing S&P+ and passing success rate, per Football Study Hall. The youngest professional passing prospect ever is currently the QB3 in our post-draft dynasty rookie rankings, and it would hardly be surprising if Darnold starts more games than McCown this season. Regardless of which quarterback is under center, Anderson should be in position to work as the team’s undisputed No. 1 wide receiver alongside a competent quarterback.
Legal Issues Were Always a Bigger Worry Than Depth-Chart Competition
Anderson faced a felony resisting-arrest charge stemming from an arrest in May 2017, but prosecutors dropped the charge on May 16, 2018. Anderson still faces potential legal action from a reckless driving misdemeanor last January, but his worst-case legal scenario appears to be behind him at this point.
Assuming Anderson manages to avoid suspension, it’s hard to see any of the Jets’ current receivers bypassing him on the depth chart.
- Jermaine Kearse enters his seventh year in the league having never scored more than five touchdowns or gained more than 900 yards in a season.
- Terrelle Pryor tied for 84th in yards per route run among 110 receivers with at least 30 targets last season.
- Quincy Enunwa missed all of last season to repair a bulging disc in his neck, and played 79% of his snaps from the slot in 2016.
Anderson Should Be Okay Even If the Jets End Up Sucking
As of this writing, BetOnline has the Jets win total at 6.5 (with a -160 lean on the under). Warren Sharp believes the Jets face the sixth-softest schedule in the league, and the league’s 10th-softest slate of pass defenses in Weeks 1-6.
Anderson’s average draft position (ADP) as of this writing dubs him as just the WR44. Even if the Jets do wind up as one of the league’s bottom feeders, Anderson has averaged an additional 3.94 DraftKings points per game as an underdog compared to a favorite during his career, exceeding salary-based expectations to the tune of a +2.5 average Plus/Minus, per our NFL Trends tool.
Pending the result of his off-the-field issues, the Jets’ top wideout offers league-winning potential at his current ADP.
Pictured above: Robby Anderson
Photo credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports