December 23, 2022, 1:40 pm
Final score: Jaguars 19, Jets 3 (Jags covered +2.5, U 36.5)
Pregame: Tied with two other games with the 2nd-lowest projected point total of the week, it’s possible that had Mike White (ruled out with rib injury) been healthy, we would’ve seen a much more likely shootout despite the Jets’ stout defense. Alas, Zach Wilson will draw another spot start on his redemption tour against Trevor Lawrence and the Jags, hoping to keep the Jets’ wild card hopes alive after dropping a heartbreaker at home against the scorching-hot Lions. Wilson will at least have potentially more time to throw with former first overall pick DE Travon Walker ruled out with an ankle injury. Jacksonville will still be strolling into East Rutherford with their chests high though after an improbable OT thriller of a win over the Cowboys last week.
Postgame: A few things are abundantly clear after Thursday’s primetime game. First, the Jags are squarely in the driver’s seat for the AFC South title now only half a game behind the Titans and with a Week 18 finale against Tennessee looking like the probable deciding game for the division. The Jets, meanwhile, look much more like they’re on the outside looking in for the AFC wild card now that they’re losers of four straight. Finally, this game was essentially the nail in the coffin for any hope that the Jets had for Zach Wilson avoiding the first round bust conclusion. The all-day rain in Northern New Jersey proved to be a bit of a cap on the ceiling of the top fantasy assets in this game, but not too much more so than the Jets simply shooting themselves in the foot.
Pregame: Trevor Lawrence is questionable with a toe injury coming into this one, but it’s an ailment he’s battled for a few weeks now and it hasn’t stopped him from delivering three top-5 finishes in four games when fantasy managers have needed him the most. In fact, after a slow start to the season, Lawrence has actually turned in top-10 efforts in six of his last nine games and will enter Week 16 as overall QB6 on the season. Not too shabby after just a QB21 finish his rookie year. Just one week after acing the test against the 7th-stingiest defense against fantasy signal callers in the Cowboys, the former first overall pick will get another stiff opposing pass defense in the Jets (9th-fewest fantasy points to QBs). This will be his most challenging road matchup since he was limited to just 6.6 total fantasy points in Philly (3rd-best vs. QBs) all the way back in Week 4. The Jets are 4th-best in the league with 12 total interceptions, something that Lawrence will have to be especially careful with considering he ranks just 24th among QBs in limiting interceptable passes (with 16). Consider Lawrence a low-end QB1 this week.
Postgame: As expected with the rain, no passing touchdowns came from either side, so fantasy managers have to be happy that Lawrence (229-0-0 passing, 7-51-1 rushing, 18.2 total fantasy points) was able to supplement his passing with his strongest all-around game on the ground this year despite losing a fumble. The other good news here was that his toe injury that gave him a questionable tag coming in didn’t appear to bother him much at all. Lawrence has now posted 18-plus fantasy points in five of his last six games, but that’ll be tough to maintain in the final week with the Texans (4th-fewest fantasy points allowed to QBs) on tap.
Pregame: The Jets are a top-10 run defense overall (9th-fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs), but we may see OC Mike LaFleur dial up a few more targets to Travis Etienne Jr. since New York actually allows the 13th-most receiving yards to opposing backs. Etienne has not been targeted more than three times in a game since Week 7, but Lawrence may need to look to him more with the Jets boasting such a shutdown group of cornerbacks. On the ground, the Jets defense ranks 5th-best on the year in YPC allowed, but they have been a bit more beatable at 10th-best over their past three games. Even just a little more breathing room should be enough to give Etienne a high-end RB2 ceiling based on his home run hitting ability alone (5th-most breakaway runs in the NFL).
Postgame: Though Etienne (22-83-0 rushing, 3-29-0 receiving, three targets, 12.7 total fantasy points) didn’t really break off many long runs outside of a 19-yarder and ultimately averaged just 3.8 YPC, this was his best fantasy output since Week 9. It’s still solid momentum for him on the ground with an average of 93.0 rushing yards over his last two games after only 33.5 in his previous four. Etienne didn’t see more involvement in the passing game as I was anticipating, as he’s now seen three or fewer targets in eight straight games. The good news is that managers who do end up advancing to the finals will get to enjoy the best possible matchup against the Texans, who are giving up the most fantasy points to fantasy running backs in all of football.
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