Ty Johnson or Tevin Coleman: Which Jets RB should you target on the waiver wire?

With Michael Carter out 2-4 weeks due to a high ankle sprain, should fantasy managers grab Ty Johnson or Tevin Coleman off the waiver wire?

The New York Jets entered the season with three running backs and no inclination as to how the touches would be divided. By the midway point of the season, it became clear Michael Carter was the guy. Unfortunately, Carter sustained a high ankle sprain last week, leaving fantasy football managers to wonder whether to add Ty Johnson or Tevin Coleman off the Week 12 waiver wire.

Both Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman have fantasy value

To be clear, when I say “fantasy value,” I merely mean they belong on fantasy rosters. No one should be expecting big production from either Jets running back. However, we know the rarity of starting NFL running backs becoming available on the waiver wire. Johnson and Coleman will likely split touches, but someone will be useful in fantasy.

Although it resulted from Carter’s injury, the three Jets running backs played the same amount of snaps last week with 20 each. That’s certainly not helping us figure out which one is the preferred pickup.

The answer may depend on game script

Johnson was barely involved in the offense last week, seeing just 1 target and 2 carries. Prior to Week 11, he was averaging 6 targets per game over his previous four contests.

Coleman played behind Johnson in Week 10, but it was also Coleman’s first game back from a month-long injury. It’s likely the team was just easing him in. Last week, he rushed the ball 5 times for 16 yards.

We can’t know anything for sure, but all signs suggest Coleman will be the early-down runner and Johnson will be the passing-down back. As a result, Coleman’s touch count will be more predictable, but his production may be touchdown-dependent. Johnson will have a lower floor due to the lack of carries but a higher ceiling because of his receiving ability.

If the Jets implement a relatively even split between Coleman and Johnson, I want the guy catching passes.

Should fantasy managers target Johnson or Coleman?

There certainly is merit to prioritizing Coleman. He is more likely to score a touchdown, and he is a safe bet for 8-10 carries a game. You can certainly do worse than 40 yards and a touchdown in your RB2 slot.

But my money is on Johnson. He’s has proven receiving chops, and — let’s be honest here — the Jets are going to be trailing more often than not. Even in Week 12 against the Texans, I’m not exactly confident in the Jets being in a position to pound Coleman.

How aggressively should fantasy managers pursue Johnson or Coleman?

The answer to this question, as always, depends on need. Neither Jets RB is winning you your league. I doubt either has a sizable impact on the outcome of your matchup. Nevertheless, they both could serve a purpose.

Fantasy teams everywhere are dealing with injuries, bye weeks, and underperformance. There are plenty of you out there looking at your Week 12 lineup and wondering who exactly is going to fill that final starting roster spot.

Johnson and Coleman should at least provide some utility to fantasy managers in need. While their upside may be lacking, a 5-7 point floor seems reasonable to project. While not difference-making, it’s certainly better than some of the alternatives.

With Carter likely out 2-4 weeks, there’s some long-term viability here as well if one were to emerge as the lead guy. If I had to choose one, I would prioritize Johnson because of the receiving upside. Regardless, both are worth reasonable FAAB bids, with an edge going to Johnson.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.