brandon-marshall-

Written by: Bill Cervi (@wcervi)

2014 was the worst season that Brandon Marshall has had since his rookie year and it was also the first season he suffered a serious lingering injury that significantly affected his production. Marshall sprained his ankle in week 1 and despite a quick statistical start through 2 games (20/119/4) he was unable to continue to perform at a high level. Marshall’s practice time was greatly reduced and it was evident watching game film that the injury was limiting what routes he could run. To his credit, he managed to play through the pain, in weeks 3-5, but his ankle injury took a huge toll on his fantasy production. Over that 3 game span Marshall was only targeted 17 times and he caught just 6 of them for 25 yards and 1 Td. Brandon Marshall later admitted that he should have missed 4 games with the injury, but he said he was able to help his team mates by being on the field.  By week 6 Marshall’s ankle had healed enough for him to be semi-effective and even though he was still not 100%, over the next 8 weeks he recorded 39 catches for 472 yards and caught 3 TDs. In week 14, Marshall’s bad luck (or is it karma) continued and he suffered a very serious injury when Safety Barry Church kneed him in the back while making a tackle. Marshall suffered two broken ribs and most significantly, a collapsed lung which required hospitalization. Marshall was put on season ending IR shortly after he was released from the Hospital and he finished the season with 61 catches for 721 yards and 8 TDs. Prior to 2014, Marshall had posted 7 straight 1,000+ yard seasons and he averaged 99 receptions for 1,249 yards and 8 TDs over that same span.

Marshall met with GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach John Fox to discuss his future with the team, in early February, but Marshall was “assured of nothing”. The writing seemed to be on the wall that the team was going to make a move and they did just that on Friday March 6th. ESPN’s Insider Ian Rapoport first reported the story and it appears that the Bears will receive a 5th round pick in exchange for Marshall. The deal is still contingent upon Marshall passing a physical, but Rapoport added that Marshall wanted to join the Jets and that he was excited to hear of the trade. Fantasy owners, on the other hand, may not be as excited to hear the news because the Jets have some serious question marks at the QB position and have not been a productive passing team in recent years.

What can Brandon Marshall owners expect from him this year and beyond? 

1Brandon Marshall has played 6 years with Jay Cutler and three years without him (years with Cutler are in orange). The 3 years without Cutler were the worst of Marshall’s career (IR and rookie year excluded), but to be fair the Quarterbacks were less than stellar (Orton, Henne, and Moore). The good news is even though they were not Marshall’s best years, they were still quality years for fantasy purposes. The question now is, how much worse can Geno Smith be than Kyle Orton, Chad Henne and Matt Moore? I would argue that Geno and the Jets have enough weapons at their disposal and Chan Gailey leading the way so it is possible that Marshall could still post 200-225 points in PPR formats this season. Marshall will Join Eric Decker, Percy Harvin (for now), Jeremy Kerley and rookie TE Jace Amaro. That lineup has some potential to do some damage in the passing game if they can get quality production from their QB. I am not saying that Geno will need to go off, but a big, physical, true number one receiver is what every young QB needs to jump start their production. My main concern about Marshall succeeding with the Jets is the fact that every other top WR that has been brought into New York has flopped. That said, I think Marshall is talented enough to be the exception and he should find moderate success in New York. There is also the hope that the Jets will upgrade their QB via trade or Free Agency. If that happens Marshall’s prospects would obviously improve.

Another question that remains to be answered is, will the Jets coaching staff be able to deal with Marshall’s locker room distractions?

Again I would argue yes, there is a better than average chance this will be a good landing spot for the troubled WR. The Jets head coach, Todd Bowles, was “a key voice in making the trade” per ESPN and Bowles is very familiar with Marshall since he was part of the coaching staff in Miami when Marshall was with the team. Bowles knows the talents that Marshall brings to the table and most importantly he is aware of Marshall’s over bearing locker room presence so he should be able to intercede as much as humanly possible. Bowles is known as a “players coach” according to former GM Charlie Casserly and he “really understands how to talk to players” per NFL Network’s Michael Robinson.

In closing, I will say that I was secretly hoping that the Patriots would move in and steal Marshall because a Brady – Marshall combo would have been something to watch. The reality is, he is a Jet and we should expect a  70-80 catch season for 800-900 yards, and 7-8 TDs (WR 2/3 production). Looking at DFW’s Dynasty start up ADP it appears that owners were over reacting to his injury plagued 2014 season prior to the the trade as his ADP was hovering around 4.8. After this trade however I would expect that number to drop even though NFL WRs can be productive through age 35.