Michael Carter 2021 Fantasy and Dynasty Outlooks Set to Explode in Jets New Zone Blocking Scheme - Roto Street Journal
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Michael Carter 2021 Fantasy and Dynasty Outlooks Set to Explode in Jets New Zone Blocking Scheme

Former 49ers’ defensive mastermind Robert Saleh is now leading the New York Jets, which means he brought the Kyle Shanahan blueprint to the AFC East. This means a tough defense, mixed with an unstoppable running game. The running game will be the focal point of the Jets offense and the team selected North Carolina’s Michael Carter at the top of the fourth round to join coaching staff favorite and zone-blocking scheme veteran Tevin Coleman, along with mediocre backups Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine from the disastrous Adam Gase regime.

LIGHTNING IN CHAPEL HILL

Michael Carter logged back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and over 4,000 total yards in four seasons in UNC’s zone and gap run schemes as the lightning to Javonte Williams’ thunder.

Carter has a unique blend of vision and quickness that allows him to cut on a dime before exploding onto the next level. He found the next level often and registered 23 total plays that exceeded 20 yards in only 11 games last season. You could also mistake Carter for prime Le’Veon Bell in the hole with his patience and cutting ability.

Carter is also an asset in the passing game. He caught 82 balls for 656 yards and six touchdowns during his Carolina career.

With the little talent on the Jets RB depth chart, it will be fun to see Carter potentially flourish as a lead back in the NFL. His three-down skill-set should get him on the field relatively early and he will have tremendous dynasty upside.

“Overall, Carter doesn’t have the body type to run heavy between the tackles, but he is a skilled problem-solving back due to his combination of vision, feel and lateral agility,” wrote The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. “He projects as a lesser version of Dalvin Cook.”

NEW YORK 49ERS?

Head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur arrived from the 49ers, with the latter an integral part of the 49ers running back by committee approach. Although it sucks for individual fantasy purposes, the system works. The scheme produced the No. 4 (2019) and No. 3 (2020) total running back fantasy points over the last two seasons.

Contrary to what Jets fans are used to seeing, the 49ers approach, which included seven running backs last year and five the year before, worked with whoever toted the rock.

When healthy last season, Raheem Mostert rushed the ball 13 times a game for an average of 5 yards a carry, while Jeff Wilson rushed 10.5 times a game for 4.8 yards a carry. 

A weaker Jets’ offensive line could diminish the production, but 28-30 rushing attempts per game is a realistic number for Gang Green.

 

“My plan is to contribute in a big way going into the year,” Carter said to the media.

We have a really good running back room. I feel like people write these guys off because they don’t have the most popular name. We got some real talent in our room and I just think that we all have one goal in mind and that’s just a win. Of course you want to be the starting running back. I’ll be a fool to sit up on this call and be like ‘Naw I don’t want to be the starting running back.’ I just think that it is a great competition. I think competition is going to turn us all into better players.”

ZONE-BLOCKING SCHEME FIT

As noted, Saleh brought over 49ers passing game coordinator and brother of Matt LaFleur, Mike LaFleur, to be the Jets’ offensive coordinator.

“Nobody knows (the Shanahan offense) better than he does,” Saleh said about his offensive coordinator.

We all know The Wolf can’t wear sweatpants in public when he thinks of Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme, and Saleh looks to replicate it in New York. Plus, Saleh brought along 49ers’ offensive line coach John Benton to be the Jets’ offensive line coach and running game coordinator.

With outside running plays, or “wide zone runs” being the scheme’s bread and butter, Carter is a picture-perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme that the Jets aim to execute. 

I think my change of direction and stop-start ability complements this system well,” Carter said. “I’ve been running wide zone pretty much since I was born, so it’s something that really comes natural to me. It’s one of those systems where we ran a lot of it in college, in high school I did, and even youth football. I’m very familiar with it.”

Saleh also believes Carter will fit the system like a glove.

“Michael’s got tremendous vision, he’s got tremendous speed, burst, he’s got the ability to make people miss,” Saleh explained. “He’s good on third down, coming out of the backfield in the pass game and he’s pretty stout in protection. For him to be where he was at 107 was a major surprise to all of us, including Joe and his staff. Felt like it was a no-brainer at that point.”

SUMMARY

If you couldn’t tell by now, Carter is our pick to win the majority of the touches out of the Jets backfield. With an ADP of RB38 (95 overall), take the fantasy value of the good scheme fit with little competition and run with it.

Due to Coleman’s history in the system, he’ll likely get the first crack at the “1A” job in the committee, but his inability to stay healthy and Carter’s explosiveness should lead the rookie to the 1A job rather quickly. The value of getting a young RB at that price tag is something fantasy owners should not pass up. If Carter can get 15-18 touches per game, he will be well worth his current ADP. 

The Wolf agrees, as evidenced by ranking Carter RB31 on his 2021 Fantasy Rankings & Big Board. However, he’s surprisingly ranked RB33 (-5 vs ECR) on The Wolf’s Dynasty Rankings.

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