RB Bilal Powell | New York Jets | 7th Year

2016 Stats: 131 carries for 722 yards, 3 TDs, 58 receptions for 388 yards, 2 TDs

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From Week 14-Week 17 last season, with Matt Forte missing the final two games, New York Jets running back Bilal Powell averaged 20.5 carries, 5.3 catches and 138 total yards per game. That stretch included two 100-yard rushing games and three games with at least 137 combined yards, which invited questions about why Powell didn’t play more a lot sooner.

Forte is now entering his age-32 season (Dec. 10), though he does offer enough as a pass catcher to be a useful player. But it’s clear the Jets overused him, with 52 carries in Week 1 and Week 2 and 55 carries in another back-to-back set in Week 7 and Week 8 (30 carries in Week 7). So at least mixing Powell in more has to be on the radar, but the Jets may even go beyond that.

ESPN Jets’ reporter Rich Cimini expects Powell to be the Jets’ lead back this season. While it’s early in the offseason still, Forte’s practice reps during inconsequential offseason work are sure to be limited. Powell should get an opportunity to earn the job.

The Jets are set to have one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2017. Some combination of Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg will start under center, and outside of Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa the wide receiver corps is unimpressive or simply unproven. So Powell is in line for plenty of touches, assuming he is atop the depth chart with the role that predicts.

Forte is still around to take away touches, which diminishes Powell’s fantasy stock some. But Forte’s name recognition should not lead fantasy owners to write Powell off. Current ADP data at Fantasy Football Calculator has Powell being drafted nearly two rounds earlier (pick 6.06) than Forte (pick 8.01) in 12-team standard leagues. In PPR formats of the same league size, the ADP gap between the two Jets backs is similar (pick 6.02 for Powell, pick 7.11 for Forte).

I’m buying Powell as a RB2 in all scoring formats, with a solid floor and a measure of upside. A major breakout may be held down by the ineptitude of those around him, but it’s also not out of the question.

2017 Projection

245 carries for 1,130 yards, 6 TDs, 52 receptions for 340 yards, 2 TDS

Breakout Percentage: 50%

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