- Christopher Harris, Fantasy
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This is exactly what Mark Sanchez needed.
While the trade has hit a snag, if it goes through, the New York Jets would trade fourth- and sixth-round draft picks in the upcoming NFL draft to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Tim Tebow and a seventh-rounder. This, of course, purges Tebow from the team he rallied to the playoffs last season, in the wake of the Broncos signing free agent Peyton Manning. It also adds Tebow to an organization that's been sending mixed messages to Sanchez for months.
First, the Jets threw their hat in the ring for Manning. Upon being quickly rebuffed, they extended Sanchez's contract, which saved the team salary-cap room in the short term but also guaranteed Sanchez $20.5 million and which was billed as an overt commitment to the fourth-year starter. And now general manager Mike Tannenbaum has acquired the living, walking, breathing media circus that is Mr. Tebow. Man.
Ideally, this move doesn't do much to the fantasy values of any Jets players. Ideally, Tebow joins the club as a No. 3 QB, a gadget player who comes on the field for five plays per game, a la Brad Smith. He runs the Wildcat; he lines up at halfback; he lines up at H-back. He probably steals a couple of rushing TDs from Shonn Greene and whomever else New York lines up in the backfield, but he doesn't take away enough yardage to be a death knell for Greene. Sanchez remains the thrower in this offense; Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller sink or swim as borderline fantasy starters based on Sanchez's performance; and everyone goes home happy, locked arm in arm.
But let's just say things don't always go ideally in the Big Apple.
One thing you heard early this week was that acquiring Tebow would be a good way to unite a divided Jets locker room because Tebow is such a good guy. Are you kidding me? There are already grumblers in that locker room who don't like Sanchez; they think he hasn't earned what he's been given. How many Jets losses will it take for fickle New York fans to clamor for Tebow? How many losses will it take for some of the players to start grousing?
In reality, when assessing Jets players for fantasy in 2012, I think we'd be terribly remiss if we didn't consider the possibility that Tebow will wind up taking legit snaps under center for large chunks of games. Am I promising you Tebow will start at some point this upcoming season? I'm not. But, even if we give him a 25 percent chance (and I might go higher than that), it has to be part of the equation. If it happens, it will have a fine effect on his fantasy value (because, if nothing else is true about Tebow, he is a significantly better fantasy QB than he is a real-life QB at this point in his career), but it likely would be a crusher for the other guys. Greene would lose most of his potential red zone carries. Holmes and Keller would have to catch passes from a guy who has completed 47.3 percent of his NFL throws, and Sanchez would be riding pine.
Now, it's not as though anyone viewed Sanchez as much of a fantasy asset at this point anyway. But, until today, I rated Greene as the No. 29 RB and Holmes the No. 30 WR in my top 100 players for fantasy in '12. However, now I'm lowering each guy. It might turn out that I was already too high on Greene because I still have a strong suspicion that the Jets are going to add another early-down back into their mix before August. I dropped him to No. 31, a full round's worth of demerit. Just the prospect of mercurial Holmes getting his brain wrapped around catching Tebow's dying quails dunks him to No. 31 among WRs, also more than a full round's drop.
Listen, can I imagine Tebow sitting the entire season, Sanchez righting himself and the Jets' skill players winding up being a harmonious treasure trove of fantasy value? Sure. But the fact that I can imagine the alternative -- pure New York-media-generated chaos -- makes me ultrawary.
Christopher Harris assesses the fantasy value of key Jets offensive options after the team's trade for Tim Tebow.