The salary cap and other needs made it clear as day the Tennessee Titans were out of the running to re-sign wide receiver Corey Davis, who agreed to a three-year, $37.5 million contract with the New York Jets, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Titans declined Davis’ fifth-year option prior to his 2020 breakthrough season, and while it may seem like it came back to bite them, the team wouldn’t have had the money to cover his $15-plus million option and do what else it needed to accomplish with the roster.
In New York, Davis joins slot receiver Jamison Crowder and 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims to round out the presumed top targets at the position. All three receivers bring different attributes and nicely complement each other.
The mystery is what happens at quarterback. New York currently has Sam Darnold entering his fourth year on a favorable contract, and the franchise has a decision to make ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets hold the second pick and will be faced with the opportunity to move on from Darnold in favor of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
While just about everyone on Earth has Wilson mocked to the Jets, don’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon. It’s a new coaching staff, and current general manager Joe Douglas didn’t draft Darnold, but the organization also has not done enough to put the former USC star in position to succeed. That said, the allure of a more dynamic arm may be too tough to pass up, and there’s always the factor of team brass wanting their own guy. Flip a coin.
The addition of Davis doesn’t really tip the hand too much. Regardless of which guy is starting at quarterback in 2021, he’ll need targets. Davis is coming off a career season in which he paired well with A.J. Brown and give Ryan Tannehill a reliable target.
But it warrants asking, why did it take Davis four years to figure it out? Was it finally the combination of right coaching staff, quarterback, and personnel around him? In 2021, the expectations probably can’t be much greater than what he faced as a former first-round pick.
The quarterback situation is a drop-off from Tannehill, although there’s possibly no distinguishable difference going from Darnold to a rookie. Talent alone, Wilson gets the edge, but he also is coming into the NFL from a school not exactly known for pumping out quality quarterbacks.
The Jets have a weak defense, which puts the team into pass-happy scripts. Tennessee also was porous on that side of the ball, but it wasn’t much of an issue for playcalling balance as Derrick Henry ran roughshod over the league. Whatever New York fields at running back won’t be Henry’s caliber, and the offensive line still needs some retooling.
Fantasy football outlook
Point-per-reception leagues will put a slight emphasis on Davis’ value as a possession-based receiver. He has more speed than average, but moving the chains has been his game to date. Davis has a career high of 65 receptions (twice), reaching it in only 14 games a year ago. He won’t have someone of Brown’s pedigree to help alleviate pressure, though. There’s also the factor of a new head coach and offensive coordinator — both first-timers in their respective roles.
The offense will look similar to what the 49ers have employed under Kyle Shanahan — play-action passing, bootlegs, zone-rushing scheme, and creative ways to get the ball into the hands of the playmakers.
Davis is a WR3 in PPR and closer to a flex in stand scoring, because he doesn’t have a history of finding the end zone — something unlikely to change in 2021’s New York offense. There will be a few blowup performances, where he goes for 20-plus points, but he enters a much tougher situation in terms of defensive competition in his new division. The overall numbers may approach his 2020 line of 65-994-5, but that is over 16 games and is also best-case scenario.
Don’t get overly interested in drafting Davis. If he falls to you at a fair value in the middle rounds, consider him as a role player in your bid to winning a fantasy championship.