As the New York Jets get ready to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, questions linger on which running back is the best fantasy football start following Michael Carter’s injury. Given their varying levels of success and upside, which Jets RB should fantasy managers target in Week 13 between Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and Austin Walter?
Michael Carter placed on injured reserve
Before we get into what to do, I wanted to remind everyone how we got here. An ankle injury forced Carter out during the Jets’ Week 11 game against the Miami Dolphins.
The following Monday, he was diagnosed with a low-grade ankle sprain with the expectation of missing at least 2-3 weeks, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
On November 27, the Jets decided to place Carter on injured reserve. Due to NFL protocols, Carter will need to miss a minimum of three games, meaning the earliest he can return is in Week 15, the first week of the fantasy football playoffs.
Carter appeared in 10 games this season, eventually winning the starting RB job. Since Week 4, when he seemingly took over the role, Carter was the RB14 through Week 11, averaging 17.8 opportunities, 85.8 scrimmage yards, and 13.7 points per game.
Which Jets RB should fantasy managers turn to moving forward: Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, or Austin Walter?
The odds of any running back on New York’s roster replicating the success of Carter are not great given the state of the offense. Yet, that does not mean we should instantly disregard the backfield for fantasy. Between Coleman, Johnson, or Walter, who is the best option for fantasy managers needing an RB in Week 13?
Tevin Coleman should operate as the top back in Week 13
In the first game without Carter, Coleman appeared to take firm control over the Jets’ backfield. He played on 30 of the Jets’ 67 offensive snaps (45%), which led the team. He also paced the backfield in touches, rushing 16 times for 67 yards against the Houston Texans.
Coleman finished the game with 19 opportunities, which put him right on par with the workload we were getting out of Carter. The Jets had their best day on the ground of the season against the Texans, rushing for a season-high 157 yards.
Now I don’t think this success has anything to do with Coleman in the backfield. But the Jets are finding some rare success as this offense continues to find itself and figure out what they have in Zach Wilson at QB. I expect to see Coleman once again lead the Jets on the ground in a decent matchup against the Eagles, who are 24th in points allowed per game to RBs at 25.29.
Coleman has the highest upside of any Jets RB and comes in just inside the top 30 in Week 13 fantasy rankings.
Ty Johnson has some PPR fantasy upside as a receiving back
By no means am I saying Johnson is someone to start in fantasy. I’m simply saying his role on the Jets’ offense is more conducive for scoring points in PPR scoring formats. With Coleman on the ground, Johnson operates as the Jets’ receiving back.
Last week, Johnson played on 23 offensive snaps and led the backfield with 10 routes run. He has recorded double-digit routes in every game this season, topping out at 26 in Week 9 against the Colts.
In the middle of the season, he went on a bit of a tear, recording 18 receptions on 24 targets for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns from Weeks 7-10. That is the usage fantasy managers are banking on if they plan on starting him in fantasy for Week 13.
If the Jets fall behind the Eagles, we should see Johnson on the field more on passing downs, which will help raise his chances of a solid outing. I can see him as a mid-to-low RB3, but Johnson brings little scoring upside as the Jets continue to struggle offensively.
Don’t chase fantasy points with Austin Walter this week
A hearty congratulations to Walter for becoming the latest player to add his name to the ever-growing list of “wait, who just scored” club. Walter played on 16 snaps last week but saw a hearty 9 carries. He turned those into 38 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown with 1:13 left in the second quarter.
Those who followed the XFL over its brief lifespan might remember Walter from his time with the Dallas Renegades. He was the team’s RB3 behind Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar and ended the year with 50 combined yards.
The best bet would be to find an alternative option over Walter. Odds are there are guys who bring far more upside in Week 13. We can re-address Walter’s fantasy standing next week if he does it again. But for now, Walter can stay as an answer to a trivia question.