Greg Jennings - Target As Your Fantasy Wide Receiver?
By Meulemans, Mason
Greg Jennings was once one of the top fantasy options in the NFL at WR, but can he return to form in his second season as a Viking?
My general theory when evaluating a players stock for the upcoming fantasy season is to try and evaluate the variables around the player as well. For Jennings, he has some things going his way for this season that could help him regain his consistency from the Green Bay years with over 900 yards receiving in five consecutive seasons. To start, many thought Jennings small size would not allow him to stay on the field, a problem in his final two years as a Packer, but Jennings was able to start 15 games last year, and proved the abdomen injury from the season prior would not have lasting effects.
One of the elements to the Vikings offense that remain in question heading into the season is the unknown of the quarterback play. As this is being written a couple of days into Minnesota’s training camp, it appears the competition, that was thought to be a three-way battle that would feature Christian Ponder, is now a head-to-head matchup between Matt Cassel and first round rookie Teddy Bridgewater. It would appear the Vikings are giving every opportunity for Bridgewater to win the job, but also want to make him earn it. What had hurt Cassel in his final games with the Chiefs was his inaccuracy throughout the field, as completely missing receivers was not a huge surprise to see on the game film. At Louisville, Bridgewater completed over 70 percent of his passes in his final year, showing the ability to run a system offense that new Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner will value.
The hiring of Turner could also be a huge factor in Jennings returning to form. As an offensive coordinator, few in the league are regarded as high as Turner, who has shown the ability to get high production out his receivers with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron in Cleveland, and Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates in San Diego. Whoever will win the quarterback battle will have to show the ability to throw the ball quickly out of play action, as Adrian Peterson is still the best weapon on the Vikings’ offense.
We all know of the freakish ability of Peterson and how he will be the driving force behind the Vikings offense. Alongside Peterson are some quality weapons opponents will have to worry about as well with the emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson in his second season, and Kyle Rudolph at TE. In the ideal Vikings offense for Norv Turner, Peterson would force teams into honoring the play action and allow Patterson to run like a deer down the field, with Jennings and Rudolph working the short to intermediary routes. If Bridgewater would win the starting job at QB, there have been recent examples of first year starters having success in this type of offense with Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson.
Another variable in the favor of Jennings is the competition he will be facing in the NFC North defenses. The Packers, Bears, and Lions have all been trying to keep up with one another for offensive talent, and somehow forgot their defenses are less than impressive when it comes to defending the pass. The Bears safety situation last season may have been the worst in the league if not for the Packers trying to convince people MD Jennings was a starting caliber safety in the NFL. But with these bad defenses come the production of their offenses, that will force the Vikings to play from behind often this season, and put the ball in the air, further aiding any production Jennings will have this season, unless new Head Coach Mike Zimmer can crack the NFC North code and slow down these explosive offenses.
With Jennings about to turn 31 in the middle of September, it’s safe to assume he is in the later half of his NFL career. What is up for debate, is how far into the back half is he? Whether his QB is Cassel or Bridgewater, there are arguments to be made for Jennings’ success this season. Although the odds are against him, I could see him fitting into the Norv Turner offense and return to his old form and approach 1,000 receiving yards, and with his ability to run precise routes, he could be a good threat for Minnesota in their red zone offense to finish drives. This is why Jennings’ reaching double-digit touchdowns this season would not surprise me.
Although I’ve tried to remain optimistic in my observations towards Jennings for this season, I cannot help but think there are too many moving parts around him to reach the level of success that he had earlier in his career with Green Bay. With how the Vikings use Patterson in trick plays, as well as their passing offense, Jennings would appear to be the second threat for WR on this team, however this could change depending on who is favored by whomever is throwing the ball. Selecting a second or third option weapon for an offense with a proven QB may lead to greater success, but this could help fantasy owners catch Jennings falling in drafts. As a proven veteran in a division with struggling secondaries, getting Jennings as third receiver on your team could provide a consistency to supplement your big time scorers.