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Spotlight: Jermichael Finley

posted by Mark Wimer on Jul 19th


Mark Wimer's thoughts

Any close examination of Jermichael Finley's 2011 prospects needs to start with his ongoing recovery from a pair of surgeries that he underwent last season. Finley was placed on IR October 18th due to a knee injury that required surgery. He had a second surgery on the knee on November 3rd due to a serious infection that led to a 105 F fever and other complications. Fast forward to spring of this year, and it appears that Finley's rehabilitation is going very well - Finley tweeted in early May: 'It's May and this knee feels brand new already'. According to all the information we have in mid-July, Finley looks like he is fully recovered from his injury and ready to resume his blistering pace as one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite receivers.

Finley was on an eye-popping pace beginning the 2010 season - he was catching over 80% of the passes that came his way (80.77%). All told, Finley saw 26 targets for 21/301/1 receiving for a career-high average of 14.3 yards per reception during the five games he appeared in last year. So far in his career, Finley is above the 75% mark in reception percentage, with 109 targets for 82/1,051/7 receiving over three seasons. He racked up most of that total during 2009 and 2010 - his rookie campaign produced just 6/74/1 receiving. He is a big, trusted target on one of the most prolific passing attacks in the NFL (Rodgers and the Packers racked up 4,124 yards passing last year, to check in at fifth in the league, and Rodgers' 31 pass TDs put the Pack at fourth in the NFL in that category). Aaron Rodgers will be 27 when the season begins and after three years as the Packers' starting QB, he is hitting the peak of his career - one Super Bowl win already, and the Packers' offense is loaded for bear again this season, too. Finley is in an outstanding situation to produce big fantasy numbers, and after three seasons in the league he's ready to put up "breakout season"-type numbers.

Positives

  • Though only 24 years old, Finley has proven that he has top-notch receiving skills
  • He is young and resilient - by all accounts, his injured knee is back to 100%.
  • Finley plays for a high-octane offense that tore up opposing defenses with ease last season
  • The Packers' surrounding talent is at such a high level that Finley won't get double-covered very often - he should be a big red-zone presence this year

Negatives

  • Due to the NFL lockout, Finley hasn't been able to consult with team doctors/trainers, so we don't have definitive word that his knee is fully healed
  • Though skilled, Finley is a young player who would have benefited from the offseason coaching sessions that were canceled due to the lockout. He may be rusty after missing most of last season and all the preseason coaching sessions
  • Finley's team will play a first-place schedule this year, so there are few pushover games on the Packers' menu this year

Final thoughts

Jermichael Finley is one of the most exciting prospects at his position this year. Even though he was knocked out last season due to injury, the potential he flashed early in the year indicates that he will challenge for an elite, top-tier finish among fantasy tight ends during 2011. Like most of the other Footballguys, Finley is among my top-five ranked tight ends this year (he's at fifth on my board as of this writing).


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Iwannabeacowboybaby! said:

He is one of the favorite targets for one of the best fantasy and real life quarterbacks in the game. Taking Jermichael Finley in this year's draft is a bit of a risk coming off last year's injury however and I suspect he will get off to a slower start but finish the season strong. He's just too good of a player to not put up quality numbers on such a prolific offense when Finley is healthy. There's a bit of Buyer's Beware attached to Finley this season but if there wasn't, he'd most likely be the No.2 TE drafted behind Gates.

fdctrumpet said:

Surprisingly, Finley blocked on 42% of his total snaps last year (7th most in the NFL at TE). I would expect that to go down and Finley be used even more as a 3rd/4th WR in the formations (he did it quite a bit already lining up outside the numbers), but I see the GB offense designed differently to keep him out of harm's way a little more. His value is against LBs and DBs - not runblocking a DE.

FavreAndAwayAnIdiot said:

Green Bay learned a lesson last year when the lost Finley. One of the coaches (can't remember if it was McCarthy, or another coach) said that they basically designed their offense around him during the 2010 offseason, and clearly they were in disarray for a game or two when he went down-- before they remembered that Jennings was still on the team.

On top of that, Green Bay is concerned they won't be able to afford to keep him next year and couple that with his rather immature Twitter distractions during the playoffs-- I think you're going to see much less Finley than you did the first 5 weeks of 2010.


Jermichael Finley projections

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