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Spotlight: Greg Jennings

posted by Will Grant on Jul 29th


Will Grant's thoughts

After going 15-1 last season and finishing as the top team in the NFC, the Packers had hopes of returning to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately they were caught napping after the bye week and made an early exit. Throughout the regular season though, their passing game was one of the best in the NFL. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers frequently torched opposing defenses, finishing the season with 4600 passing yards and 45 passing TDS. Through all of that Greg Jennings was considered his go-to guy, as he has been for the last four seasons.

Track Record of Success
As Jennings enters his seventh season, he brings with him an impressive string of solid performances. In his second season with the Packers, Jennings has just 53 receptions over 13 games, but racked up an impressive 920 yards receiving and 12 receiving touchdowns. He followed that with three consecutive 1100+ yard seasons, culminating in 2010 when he posted 1265 receiving yards and 12 TDS, finishing as the #4 fantasy WR that year.

Jennings would have continued that streak last season, but he missed the last three games of the season due to a knee injury. Despite missing almost a quarter of the season, Jennings still finished with almost 950 receiving yards and nine receiving TDS. He posted an impressive 11.46 fantasy points per game, including six games with more than 13 fantasy points. His last full regular season game was against the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, and he racked up seven receptions for 94 yards and a TD on 13 targets. Despite missing three games, his 67 receptions were second for Green Bay receivers behind Jordy Nelson who had 68 despite playing in three more games.

Full Speed Ahead
As training camp opens, Jennings is back at full speed. To make things even more interesting, Jennings is entering the final year of his contract, and he will be a free agent at the end of the season. With guys like Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and JerMichael Finley on the team, you can expect that Jennings will be playing hard to attract big free agent interest, forcing the Packers to commit to him long term, or let him move on for that monster long term contract that veterans hope to land in the middle of their careers.

Look for Jennings to be right back in the swing of things this season. He and Aaron Rodgers have a great rapport, and Rodgers looks to him early and often in games. The Packers have too many offensive weapons to double-team Jennings on every play, and when he's working one on one, he is a dangerous receiver. Rodgers has great down-field accuracy and can take advantage of when Jennings breaks into the open field. While he finds a way to get everyone involved in the offense, Rodgers still finds a way to get Jennings the ball 5-6 times a game. From a fantasy prospective, you can't ask for much more than the consistent, week after week production that Jennings brings.

The key to Jennings' game is his ability to sneak up on your. If defenses key on him early, Rodgers will go to Jordy Nelson or JerMichael Finley if they are open. As defenses move to adjust, Jennings will start to see single coverage. Suddenly Jennings will find a soft spot deep down the field, working single coverage and in the blink of an eye, Rodgers will have him the ball. Jennings is also a great red zone threat. Because they can't run the ball as a team, the Packers often spread the field with multiple receivers near the goal line. Rodgers has the vision and reaction speed to find the open man and get him the ball quickly. Jennings should see at least two or three TDS come his way this season in the red-zone as well given his ability to find the soft spot and make the catch in traffic.

Beyond 2012
Expect the Packers to lock up Jennings long term sometime over the course of the season. He's going to post solid numbers again this year and unless he's injured early, teams are going to be licking their chops in preparation for free agency. Green Bay doesn't want to use the franchise tag on Jennings, and they don't want him to test the market. The key will be how long they'll commit to him with younger guys like Nelson and Randall Cobb behind him. Green Bay has one of the deeper receiving corps in the league, and they can certainly survive if Jennings were to leave the team. However, given how well him and Rodgers get along, you can expect that Green Bay will keep him under contract for the remainder of his career.

Positives

  • He's the Go-To receiver on a team that is going to throw for more than 4500 yards again this season
  • Questionable running game and pass defense means Green Bay is going to throw the ball a lot to build and maintain leads this season again
  • Playing in a contract season during the prime of his career. He's motivated for a big season to land that last big payday of his career

Negatives

  • Finished last season on the sidelines with an injury and he is entering his seventh season. He may be showing signs of slowing down
  • Huge competition for pass-catching means he could disappear in some games if someone else gets hot
  • Lack of a legitimate threat to run means opposing defenses can focus on stopping the pass. Jennings is the go-to guy, and he will draw a lot of double teams

Final thoughts

Greg Jennings is a fantasy receiver with top 10 potential. Despite missing three games last year, he still managed to finish in the top 20, and his 11+ fantasy points per game average are exactly what you want from your top two receivers. Jennings is back at full strength, and has resumed his position as the 'go-to' receiver for Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers likes to spread the ball around, Jennings always seems to come away with a few solid catches and clutch plays each game. Perhaps the best reason to draft Jennings though is his ability to find the end zone. In his first six seasons, Jennings has had four seasons with nine or more TDS. Even with missing three games last year, he still managed nine TD grabs. Target Jennings for another top 12 finish. He's not quite the stud that Megatron or Larry Fitzgerald are, but he's still work as a solid WR1 or high-end WR2 for your fantasy team.


Quotations from the message board thread

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

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood said:

Before Jennings injured his knee against the Raiders he was on pace for 86-1240-12. If he plays 16 games he's a lock for 1150-9-12 TDs. While he'll never be as flashy as the other elite WR's, I think he's the safest WR outside of Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. I don't buy into the Jordy Nelson stealing production for Jennings, as I view Nelson's 2011 season as an anomaly, and won't surpass Jennings on the food chain.

asuterlowe said:

While I think Jordy isn't going to surpass Jennings, I believe this past season was a sign of things to come from him. He didn't fall off when Jennings was out and with Jennings drawing coverage I think he could be in a for a big year. McCarthy has spoken about his desire to expand Jordy's role in the offense, I think Finley is the one who will be hurt as Jordy emerges. One thing that is seldom brought up is how often Jordy was looked at this past season in the red zone. If people think Dallas and Atlanta are productive enough to support two WR1s, GB certainly is.


Greg Jennings projections

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