Spotlight: Vincent Jackson

posted by Will Grant on Jun 29th


Will Grant's thoughts

Projecting Vincent Jackson's stats this season is going to be a challenge. Two things could have a major impact on Jackson's numbers this season:

Pending Suspension: In February, Jackson plead guilty to a DUI charge from 2009. This is his second conviction since 2006 and he served four days in jail with five years of probation. While he has not received any official punishment from the league, you can expect that the NFL will suspend Jackson for at least one game, probably two.

Contract Dispute: Jackson is a restricted free agent who was tendered at the highest possible level. While there was some interest in him earlier this season, no trades have been made. Upset over the one year contract offer, Jackson skipped the mandatory three-day mini-camps in May. Attempts to re-sign Jackson since then have failed and on June 8th, the team informed him that they would reduce his tender offer if he did not sign by June 15. Jackson has not signed the tender, meaning his 2010 salary will drop from $3.268 million to $583,000. Jackson now claims that he will hold out until week 11 and the Chargers claim that they are prepared to move on without him.

This news is terrible, given the fact that Jackson has been a major focal point of the San Diego passing attack for the last two seasons. In the 31 games that he has started for the last two seasons, Jackson has 208 targets, 127 receptions, 2265 yards receiving and 16 TDS. That's top 12 fantasy WR numbers for the last two years. If Jackson were to play a full 16 games this year, you'd be looking at him with in the 3rd round.

At this point, the safe bet it to assume the worst. Jackson will be suspended for two games, and he'll hold out for another eight, rejoining the team in week 11 so that he receives full credit for 2010. Assuming that the Chargers are in the playoff hunt by that point, he'll slide back into the offense and put up solid numbers for the few games that he has left. If you get lucky enough, the Chargers and Jackson come to an agreement some time before then and he rejoins the team sooner. Think of him as a sixth round pick with upside.

Positives

  • When he's in the offense, Jackson is electric. He had nine games with 10 or more fantasy points last year, including five games with 16 or more fantasy points. In the playoffs, he had seven receptions for 111 yards.
  • Jackson has little or no competition outside of Antonio Gates. Malcom Floyd is the #2 WR and he has never had more than 45 receptions in a season.
  • An improved running game with rookie Ryan Mathews means defenses will pay more attention to the run, opening up the passing lanes for Philip Rivers.

Negatives

  • Even without a hold-out, Jackson will probably miss one or two games due to his DUI.
  • Even with an expected hold-out, you're still going to have to spend a third round pick to get Jackson and carry the dead weight until he plays.
  • Trade talks will certainly heat up if Jackson holds out. A trade to a team like Seattle would improve Jackson's overall season numbers, but could hurt his fantasy points per game.

Final thoughts

Vincent Jackson is approaching an 'avoid at all costs' tag for this year. His current Average Draft Position is WR11, 31st overall. This indicates that quite a few people think this hold-out will not impact his numbers and he'll only be suspended for one game. This kind of thinking ignores the fact that the

Chargers effectively 'fined' Jackson $2.5 million for not signing his tender offer. This is not your 'typical' summer hold-out that will be resolved by the time the season starts. Spending a 3rd round pick on a guy who could only play five games this season is crazy. Let someone else roll the dice and take a guy like Greg Jennings, Sidney Rice or Calvin Johnson in the third round. If, by some miracle, you see Jackson in the sixth round, you might consider taking him. The reality is that in most leagues, he's going to be drafted way too early. If you're a San Diego fan and absolutely must have Jackson on your roster, the smart move is to let someone else spend the high draft pick on him, and then swing a trade after the season starts or grab him off of the waiver wire if he is dropped.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This thread was started before it appeared likely Vincent Jackson would hold out for the first 10 games of the season. Please take note of that as you consider the differential between the projections by the Message Board consensus and that of our staff writer, Will Grant.


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:

Vincent Jackson is a deep threat, capable of bringing down the ball with a defender on him. He uses his body well to shield off the defender. Rivers has definitely called upon him as his go to guy over the past couple years, taking over that role from A. Gates. I project another top 10 season for Vincent Jackson, scoop him up.

bigmiiiiike said:

I don't share the same optimism about Jackson's upside. Last year the San Diego passing game got plenty of work, as Rivers threw for 4254 yards and 28 TDs. Jackson was the only receiver on the team to clear 50 catches, 800 yards and 3 TDs. Granted, Gates eats up a chunk of production (going for 79, 1157 and 8 in '09). My point is that to project an increase in stats for VJax either requires the belief that the passing game will be more prolific, or that it'll remain the same but he'll get a bigger piece of the pie. I don't think it's realistic to project 4500+ yards and 35+ passing TDs in '10, especially since the Chargers added Ryan Mathews and Norv is on the record claiming that Mathews will be handed a hefty load. I bring up the above numbers to show that VJax already got a fairly large share of the passing pie, so I don't think the numbers will tilt even more in his favor. VJax is a good, big play WR, but I think he tops out at around 70 for 1200 and 8, and I'll project a slight decrease of '09 as I think the Bolts are more committed to and successful at running the ball.

Go Deep said:

I think having Mathews will not only help the running game, but the passing game. Tomlinson's running, or lack of it cost the Chargers some drives. A better running game will keep the Chargers offense on the field. However, i don't think the Chargers will be a "running" team. This is Rivers team now, and he will continue to put up big numbers. I don't see a huge increase in his passing totals from last year, but 4500 and 30-32 TD's seems reasonable.

As far as the distribution of those passing numbers, VJax should continue to get a big piece of the pie. I don't see a WR on that team who is capable of more than 50 catches or 800 yards. Obviously Gates will continue to get his, but i think his numbers drop off slightly. The one category i expect Jackson to improve in is TD's. I think the Chargers will pass a bit more near the goal line with LT gone and a rookie RB taking his place.

I don't think your projections are that far off, and i also don't think you can go wrong with Jennings or Colston. My biggest problem with those two though is their QB's love to spread the ball around so their production will be less consistent. Steve Smith is a good option too, and you can probably get him a round later.


Vincent Jackson projections

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