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Thursday Night Football preview: What to expect fantasy-wise from Broncos at Jets

Fantasy preview of Thursday Night Football.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

NFL Week 4’s Thursday night game is liable to be the worst games of 2020. A defensive touchdown is of high probability as the Broncos roll out their third-string quarterback and Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold is forced to play with Adam Gase’s play designs.

Denver Broncos

The Jets’ overall ineptitude lends itself to game-scripts that end up dominated by opposing offenses via the run game. New York’s 58.3 plays per game are fourth-fewest in the NFL. For the Broncos, this means that fill-in QB Brett Rypien will be limited to as low of a workload as he’ll ever see, outside of mid-game relief duty. The second-year signal caller took over as Denver’s starter towards the end of last week’s blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and tossed an interception shortly afterwards. Rypien can be counted on to frequently target safety blanket tight end, Noah Fant, who was held out of the endzone for the first time last week. Fant’s second-year strides are evident as he’s quickly become one of the best young pass catching tight ends in the game. .5PPR’s overall TE3 should continue his stellar 2020 season as the focal point of the Broncos’ passing game this week. Tee him up as a TE1 who owns rights to Rypien’s first read in the red zone. His team-leading 33.33% red zone target market share is not an accident. Rypien can’t be counted on anything more than a QB3 but does have sneaky QB2 upside against the Jets’s appallingly bad defense.

Rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy’s biggest hindrance will likely be Rypien’s arm. Jeudy should have no issue getting open against the Jets’ secondary, the question as to whether Rypien can get him the ball downfield is what remains to be seen. Count on Jeudy as a high-floor flex option with long-touchdown upside.

Of the remaining three receivers—Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, and K.J. Hamler—there is no discernable top dog. Hamler dethroned Patrick as the bunch’s snap leader last week and would be the favorite for a long touchdown with Patrick perhaps more of a PPR asset. All of them are largely ignorable in fantasy though.

Melvin Gordon’s upside hinges heavily upon Phillip Lindsay’s readiness to return (turf toe). Lindsay managed Limited Participation tags in each of this week’s three practices but turf toe is easily re-aggravated so his return is far from certain. The prudent move for the team would be to rest him, as Gordon is more than capable of carrying the team on his back against such a straw-house of a team. With the Jets giving up the 9th-most rushing yards and 7th-most rushing touchdowns, Gordon’s floor would be cemented as a mid-range RB2 with back-end RB1 upside, were Lindsay to sit. If Lindsay is a go, Gordon—who would still own the backfield’s passing game work—would have a projected ceiling stuck in the RB13-15 range. Lindsay, meanwhile, would be a boom/bust flex option as we don’t know how much work the coaching staff will really want to give him.

The Indianapolis Colts racked up two pick-sixes against the Jets last week and while Denver might not replicate that feat, the Colts’ performance is indicative of what is possible when facing an Adam Gase offense. Denver’s defense isn’t on the same level and Indianapolis but they can still be expected to generate sacks and turnovers against New York. They’re one of the best streaming D/STs on the week.

New York Jets

The word on the Jets’ offense is a pummeled dead horse at this point. Head coach Adam Gase hamstrings his moderately talented roster every week with Junior Varsity game planning and subpar personnel choices. This is one of the better match-ups that quarterback Sam Darnold will face this year but he’s still off-limits for fantasy purposes. It’s no accident that Darnold is the QB30 in fantasy scoring. Keep him off of your fantasy roster.

The only fantasy-relevant pass catcher in New York is the team’s starting slot receiver and it’s unclear who that is at the moment. The team’s true starter, Jamison Crowder, has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Although he’s managed Limited Participation designations in each practice this week, rushing him back from a bum hammy would be a mistake. If he’s active, he’s a rock-solid-floor flex option with back-end WR2 upside in PPR leagues. Fill-in slotster Braxton Berrios picked up where Crowder left off over the last two weeks, catching all but two of this 12 targets and finding the endzone in each contest. Should Crowder miss TNF, plug in Berrios as you would Crowder and expect the same steady production from him as Darnold’s No. 1 target.

Wide receivers Chris Hogan, Josh Malone, and Lawrence Cager are not relevant for our purposes.

Chris Herndon—an outstanding pass catching talent—has been reduced to a blocker by Gase. As Establish The Run’s Dwain McFarland noted on twitter a while back, Chris Herndon is being asked to block more than any other starting tight end in the NFL. Herndon can be safely dropped.

Kalen Ballage’s attempted hurdle-turned-half-heliopter-via-force last week is a good encapsulation of the Jets’ backfield overall.

The Broncos’ defense has allowed the 7th-fewest rushing yards through three games and just one rushing touchdown (tied for 1st). New York’s backfield clown car consisting of 37-year old Frank Gore, Kalen Ballage, and LaMical Perine offer zero fantasy value and should not be anywhere near starting lineups.