Faceoff: Greg Jennings
Jeff Haseley: When looking ahead to Greg Jennings' potential in 2010, the best way to gauge his value may be to look at his games when his TE teammate, Jermichael Finley was a strong contributor. Finley is expected to play a big role in the Packers offense in 2010. If he is anything like his second half form in 2009, which the expectations indicate, it will allow Jennings to take advantage of more open spaces in coverage. Jennings was able to re-establish his deep route success with Aaron Rodgers in the second half of 2009 as a result of Jermichael Finley's commanding presence.
Jermichael Finley turned it on after week 11 last year. Coincidentally, Jennings benefited with four 100-yard receiving games in week 11 and beyond, including one playoff game. The most by any WR in that span, tied with Wes Welker. If indeed Finley's presence makes that much of a difference, we could see upwards of six to seven 100-yard efforts for Jennings in 2010. Don't forget, Jennings is coming off three consecutive Top 20 finishes and he is only one year removed from a 4th place finish.
I have several reasons supporting my interest in Jennings in 2010. Number one, the Finley effect will open up more opportunities for passing routes down field, which caters to Jennings' strengths. I think he will see an increase in production for this reason alone. Number two, the Packers have a very potent offense that will sustain drives and result in more scoring opportunities. >When you choose a WR for your team, would you rather have someone on a poor passing team or one on a high scoring team? I think we all would say a high scoring team. The third reason for my interest in Jennings in 2010 is the health and age of Donald Driver. Driver is coming off knee scopes on both knees in the off season. Even light, minor surgery is still surgery. Combine that with Driver's age (35) and it's not a good recipe for greatness. I have always been a fan of Driver's toughness, grit and tenacity, but studies show, once a WR, no matter how talented, reaches age 35 and older, their production drops off considerably. Driver may be able to provide needed production from time to time, but I don't believe he will be a fixture in the offense like he was, years prior. That opens the door for Jennings and Finley to be the leaders of the Packers receiving corps.
Some suggest Jennings drop in production last year was due to a lingering injury he suffered in week two against Cincinnati that he wasn't being completely truthful about. He was able to stay on the field and play through it and still managed five regular season 100-yard games with a Top 20 finish, despite being the fourth lowest receiver in TDs scored for the team. The scores will return if he can once again connect with Rodgers on deep throws down field. I can't predict he will reach 1,300 yards and score 10 TDs, but the opportunity is there and he has been there before, with Rodgers. He may not finish as a Top 5 WR, but Top 10 is definitely a good possibility.
Andrew Garda: I'm a big fan of Greg Jennings the NFL WR. I'm no longer so enamored of Greg Jennings, Fantasy WR. Don't get me wrong, he has talent. But he's been maddeningly inconsistent for his entire (albeit brief) career. Jennings has finished as the 12th, fourth and 20th wide receiver in fantasy.
He has his good and great games but disappears all too often, making it near impossible to predict when to play him. Meanwhile, his touchdown totals have dropped every year since 2007, bottoming out at just four last season. Jennings was hampered by the play of the offensive line last year and since he excels on the longer routes, he'll keep struggling if Rodgers continues to lack the time to hit those. Rodgers will have to throw shorter routes and those passes tend to go to Finley and Donald Driver.
Speaking of Driver - every season people sound the death knell for Driver and every season he defies that expectation. Certainly Driver is aging, and yes he had surgery in January. But all reports are he's fine and will be ready to go for Training Camp.
But let's say Father Fantasy Time catches up to Driver. Do we automatically assume the targets go to Jennings? I'd say no, especially with two very talented wideouts behind Driver on the depth chart. Neither James Jones nor Jordy Nelson is in Jennings' class, but both are pushing for more playing time. Along with Finley, they stand to get any redirected Driver targets since all three can be used for short gains while Jennings is waiting for the long ball. At best he gets some of those former Driver targets but not all.
One last thing - I mentioned earlier about Jennings' sub-par TD totals in 2009. Did you know he wasn't targeted once in the red zone after Week 12? We know the Packers were scoring in the red zone - they just weren't doing it with him. They were targeting Jones, Finley and Driver.
Jennings did have a trio of 100 yard games in that stretch - although he also had two games of just over 50 yards, one of 77 and one with a mere 29. This serves to illustrate that a great deal of his game is predicated on the long ball. All three of those big games were matches where he had his yards per catch were significant. When his YPC dropped, his numbers did as well by quite a bit. For a top WR you need more than mere production you need consistency as well. Jennings can put up points - you may just go mad trying to figure out when he'll do it. As it stands, Jennings is at best a low end WR1, and safer as a #2.