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Spotlight: Vincent Jackson

posted by Chris Smith on Jul 27th


Chris Smith's thoughts

Vincent Jackson is a special playmaker and fantasy gem - as long as he is healthy and motivated. At 6'6" and 240 pounds, he is a match-up nightmare for defending players. Jackson has the ability to elevate and get to passes that other players simply cannot. He is blessed with good speed and quickness and has all the tools to be a top fantasy receiver. Jackson has performed at a near-elite level in the past, finishing as the 10th and 12th best fantasy receivers in 2009 and 2008. Unfortunately the wheels fell off last year (14 receptions for 248 yards and 3 TDs) as an early season suspension and protracted holdout made him effectively mute until very late in the year.

Jackson's 2008 and 2009 were outstanding:

  • 31 games
  • 127 receptions
  • 2,265 receiving yards
  • 16 touchdowns
  • 9 100+ yard receiving games
  • 14 games with 1+ TDs

Needless to say, Jackson has built unmistakable chemistry with All Pro QB Philip Rivers; and it's not hard to imagine Jackson vaulting into Top 5 status if he can stay on the field this year. Many fantasy owners thought he would take that next step in 2010, but the aforementioned issues made that an impossibility.

IS JACKSON CAPABLE OF MATCHING OR SURPASSING HIS 2008 / 2009 STATS?

Elite mix of size, speed, athleticism and ambition
There have been few receivers at any level that can match Jackson's combination of size, speed and athleticism. He is truly a freak of nature and as those two seasons illustrated, he is capable of putting up big fantasy numbers. To be as tall as he is and still be able to cut quickly and separate from defenders is a unique and special combination that few possess.

The Chargers may run more in 2011. Will that take touches away from Jackson?
If the Chargers run the ball more effectively this season it will only help Jackson's stats this season, not detract from them. A more balanced attack keeps defenders honest, and a more sustained run game should allow for more possessions in the red zone, where Jackson's size and rapport with Rivers should provide significant TD upside.

Is he 100 % committed to the team and his individual performance despite the contract woes?
If anything, we can expect him to be 100% focused this season eyeing a monster payout in 2012 when he hits free agency. Expect Jackson to be intense and ready to go right out of the gate this season.

Can he get enough targets, even if motivated, with talents such as future Hall of Famer TE Antonio Gates, veteran WR Patrick Crayton and improving WR Malcom Floyd on the roster?
Philip Rivers has completed over 310 passes in each of the last three years. Using that baseline, if Gates catches 5 receptions per game, that still leaves 230+ completions to go around. If 80 completions go to the running backs, there are still approximately 150 completions earmarked elsewhere. Even if Floyd is re-signed, Jackson's baseline is likely around 70 receptions for 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Positives

  • Incredible blend of size, speed and athleticism
  • Will be motivated to put up huge numbers to reel in monster contract
  • Rivers is in the prime of his career and talent surrounds Jackson on offense so defenses cannot key on him

Negatives

  • If he cannot put aside the contract struggles, it will effect his game
  • Has had problems with the law in the past including two DUI convictions
  • If he struggles with attitude concerns, Patrick Crayton and Malcom Floyd are capable replacements

Final thoughts

Jackson should be in a position to put up monster statistics in 2011. His quarterback is in the prime of his career, there are other weapons on offense to keep defenses from rolling coverage his way and a big season from him would help to bring huge dollars in free agency. The ball is in his court and he should be capable of putting up top five fantasy numbers this season.


Quotations from the message board thread

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

fightingillini said:

VJax should have a big year, getting plenty of opportunities from Rivers, who loves to throw the ball downfield. The SD offense will run through Rivers. But I do have a concern that Gates is breaking down and will miss time again. That would allow defenses to double team VJax more. Never a big reception guy. Slight hit in PPR leagues, but in non-PPR, he should be close to a top 5 WR.

Carolina Hustler said:

Last season was purely a product of AJ insisting that he play while being under paid, and refusing to give him a new contract or even negotiate. That is the single biggest factor in last seasons V-Jax hiccup. He missed the beginning of the season do to a suspension, and then his refusal to bend over for Smith. Then I attribute the "injuries" to his lack of contract or money motivation. He played the minimum amount needed to gain credit for the season. And when playing, he played at a high level.

V-Jax was completely screwed over by AJ, and I expect him to play very well this season if things work out the way it seems they will. AJ placed a tag, so he'll be paid well this season if that tag sticks, pay compensation won't be a reason to lay out. And if he is playing as an eventual free agent, he'll want to blow up in hopes of signing for big money in free agency the following season. And if the Chargers are looking to move on after 2011, AJ will want to harness every ounce of that extra effort before he releases him. This could be a VERY good FF situation.

Obviously, recalculate all of that if Chargers re-sign him, or some how he moves on this off season, which are both possibilities, the latter more likely.

V-Jax could put up top 3-5 #'s this season if things go right. The talent and motivation are there.

Go Blue said:

I'm in the camp that this is going to be a career year for Jackson. He's still in search of that big payday. I feel that he'll stay in S.D., but I think he'll succeed no matter who he's playing for.

What I don't get are the people that are projecting him to become a possession receiver. He's never been a possession receiver and I surely don't think he'll start now. I've seen a couple of projections in this thread of him averaging less than 12.5 yards per reception. His career average is 17.2 yards per catch. That is also his lowest average over the last 3 years.


Vincent Jackson projections

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Chris Smith8212551000
Message board consensus7911891000