Spotlight: Greg Jennings

posted by Will Grant on Jun 1st


Will Grant's thoughts

While Greg Jennings didn't have a 'bad' season in 2009, he was a pretty big fantasy disappointment for folks expecting another top five performance out of him like he had in 2008. His TD output continued to slide; he only reached the end zone four times last year compared against the nine TDs he had in 2008 and his 12 in 2007. His reception total also dropped from a career-high of 80 in 2008 to 69 last season. While he still finished in the top 20 for fantasy WRs, these were not the numbers that people were expecting from a guy they had to spend a second or third round pick to acquire.

The drop off certainly wasn't due to lack of opportunities. As a team, the Packers threw for almost 4,500 yards passing and 30 TDs. Packer #2 Donald Driver put up almost identical numbers in both his 2008 and 2009 seasons, so it can't be blamed on him either. The biggest contribution to Jennings' drop in performance was the emergence of young GB receivers James Jones and Jermichael Finley. Jones had almost 450 yards receiving and snagged five TDs during the regular season. He also had a solid playoff performance with 50 receiving yards and a TD. Finely had a breakout year in his sophomore season, posting 676 yards and 5 TDs during the regular season and had a huge playoff game with six receptions for 159 yards.

This season, Jennings will return to the role as the Packers #1 receiving option. On a team that will throw the ball for more than 4,250 yards this season, that's certainly a good place to be. Even though he had only 69 receptions last season, Jennings was targeted five or more times in all but one game last year. In the playoffs, he was a key reason that the Packers hung tough, finishing with eight receptions for 130 yards and a score. He is clearly a big part of their offense and will continue to fill that role this season as well.

The emergence of younger receivers like Finley, Jones and Jordy Nelson may actually help Jennings in the long run as well. As the Packers spread the ball around more, opposing defenses will not be able to lock out Jennings with constant double teams like they have in the past. He'll be working more one on one opportunities, and that should result in more big play opportunities for him as well. The improvements that the Packers have made on the offensive line should give QB Aaron Rodgers more time to work the ball down field more, allowing Jennings to get open deep and take advantage of his ability to find the soft spots in the deep defensive secondary.

Positives

  • Jennings is a guy with excellent receiving skills on a team that is going to throw the ball a lot. Expect another 4,000+ yard passing season from Green Bay and Jennings to see a lot of that action.
  • The Packers made solid strides to improve their poor offensive line this season. This should give Aaron Rodgers more time to throw the ball and allow Jennings to get down field for more big play opportunities.
  • Solid performance by Donald Driver and improved performances from younger receivers like Jermichael Finely and James Jones mean fewer double teams and weaker coverage on Jennings this year. Giving Rodgers more time and Jennings less attention should result in a more consistent performance from Jennings this season.

Negatives

  • With so much competition for pass opportunities, Jennings isn't the clear 'go to' receiver anymore, and it will limit his upside potential.
  • Improvements in the offensive line should also improve the running game for Green Bay. This could result in fewer passing opportunities in general.
  • While the NFC North is still a fairly weak division, Chicago and Detroit have both made solid improvements on defense, and Minnesota is still one of the toughest teams in the NFC. There will be no easy wins for the Packers this season.

Final thoughts

Jennings burned a lot of people last season, and that is resulting in a little inconsistency when it comes to projecting his stats of this season. Some feel he will return to the big numbers that he posted in 2008. Others feel that he'll finish about the same as last year, with possibly a few more TDs. I believe that the folks projecting a similar performance to 2009 are closer to the mark. While Jennings is still the #1 option in the Green Bay passing game, there are simply too many other solid receivers to expect a huge jump in his numbers this season. Unless Donald Driver has a serious drop in performance this season, or one of the younger guys proves to be a fluke, Jennings will be looking at 115-120 targets this season, with similar numbers to last year and a slight uptick in TDs receptions.


Quotations from the message board thread

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

Packers said:

It seemed last year he struggled with Rodgers early. Plus he missed week 2. After the week 5 bye he seemed to get on page with Rodgers. But still inconsistent throughout the season.

With Driver still doing the dirty work and pretty good talent with James Jones and Jordy Nelson around to get some grabs I just don't see Jennings bouncing up to 85 or 90+ receptions.

He turns 27 in Sept. so he is right in his prime. I would view Jennings as a very safe pick with a slight possibility of reaching top tier numbers.

karmarooster said:

He didn't actually miss week 2. Just put up a goose egg on 5 targets.

You hit the nail on the head however with the inconsistent comment, and I don't think that is going to change because he is the deep threat on a team with MANY other talented players (Finley, Driver, Jones, Nelson, Grant). Probably the deepest corps of WRs/TE/RB in the league.

With all of that talent I think it very unlikely he goes over 80 catches, and I doubt he gets double-digit TDs with Finley, Grant, and Rodgers rushing stealing TDs inside the redzone. He's probably over-rated due to name recognition on that 12 TD season from a few years ago and the 1,200 yard campaign in 2008. I don't see him as having any more upside than say, Hakeem Nicks.

rzrback77 said:

I really like Greg Jennings as a player and on the Packers, he seems to be in a prime position with opportunity combining with talent to send him to the top echelons of the WR rankings. However, there is also reasonable doubt here. Consider that he has finished as #12, #4, and #20 in the FBG scoring for WRs over the past three seasons. Combine that with the plethora of weapons that Aaron Rodgers has and I am not seeing the upward movement that would put Jennings as the current WR 13 and 32 overall.

Jennings played in all 16 games in 09, but managed only 119 targets (7.4 per game). He had six games with 6 or less targets and one game without a reception. In ppr scoring leagues, he still had six games with less than 10 fantasy points. The positives are that he is in a high octance offense with a great QB, even though Finley burst on the scene last year, Jennings stayed involved in the offense, and Driver who is Jennings main competition for WR targets is 35 already and should be dropping off the cliff soon.

I also think that Jennings is a much better option than James Jones or Jordy Nelson, but just not convnced there is value taking him as high in the draft as may be required.


Greg Jennings projections

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Will Grant711148700
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