Fantasy Football Booms and Busts, Week 12: Mike White smashes in 2022 debut

The New York Jets have built one of the most interesting young rosters in the NFL. The defense is already nasty and formidable. The offense has interesting skill talent, especially at the wide receiver position.

All that’s been missing with the 2022 Jets is a quarterback — which is a little like saying a steakhouse is wonderful except for their lousy steaks. But maybe Mike White is here to save the day.

White started in place of Zach Wilson on Sunday against Chicago, and White’s 2022 debut was gorgeous. He completed 22-of-28 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t turn the ball over and he was sacked just once. Then Jets racked up 466 yards of offense, easily their best output of the year — and a seismic jump after last week’s 103-yard clown show against the Patriots.

We have to temper some of the White enthusiasm — the Bears have one of the five worst defenses in the league. This was a cushy landing spot. But they don’t hand out wins or big passing days at the airport, you have to earn them. White did a nice job with play-action, stuck a few tight-window throws, and didn’t miss when his receivers had separation.

Scout the highlights for yourself, see what you think. I certainly came away impressed.

Garrett Wilson was the big winner in the passing game, snagging five catches for 95 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Wilson’s first score was a defensive bust, the second score a showcase of his elite talent. Wilson also secured a crisp slant pass on New York’s second snap of the day, a harbinger of the White-to-Wilson connections to come. It was a blast to watch Wilson spread his wings; he plays with an infectious joie de vivre, and can win on so many different routes.

White only targeted Elijah Moore twice, but they went for a 40-yard chunk and a 22-yard touchdown. Not long ago Moore was begging his way off the Jets roster; he’s back in play now, especially if the target share grows in coming games.

Tyler Conklin didn’t light the world on fire, but 3-50-0 is a playable line in the great Tight End Drought of 2022. Conklin received a couple of easy pitch-and-catch completions when the Jets put White on the move. Boot action, it’s so pretty when it works.

White targeted 10 teammates for the day, and only Wilson had more than three looks. If the distribution remains this wide, perhaps Wilson is the only pass-catchier we can trust in New York. But at least we have some hope with this passing game, a unit that looked dead a few weeks back.

White is not a pedigree prospect, of course. The Cowboys took him as a fifth-round pick in 2018, but he was cut after spending one year as a third-string quarterback. The Jets added White in 2019 and subsequently waived him several times, shuffling him between the practice squad and the active roster. If the rest of the league had interest in White, any team could have landed him cheaply on multiple occasions. No one nibbled.

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White isn’t guaranteed to keep this starting gig through the season, though he’s never going to be benched if he continues to produce. Perhaps the upcoming schedule works to his benefit. The leaky Vikings defense waits next week — the same unit that made Mac Jones look like a Manning brother on Thanksgiving. Buffalo will be a challenge in Week 14, but everyone envies a Detroit date in Week 15.

The Jets backfield has a lot of moving parts. James Robinson was a surprising healthy scratch on Sunday, clearing the runway for Michael Carter, but Carter injured his ankle and had just eight touches. Ty Johnson (78 total yards, touchdown) was the beneficiary of the Carter injury, and unknown Donovan Knight (14-69-0) picked up some clock-killing work. Knight did have one fumble, though the Jets retained the ball.

So we’ll have backfield detective work to do for the next few days. But so long as the White-to-Wilson show remains in the air, the Jets are welcome on one of my main TVs. This could be a fun team, and a dangerous playoff opponent.

Editor's note: More Week 12 analysis to come...