Blog Post by: Bo Mitchell
- March 21, 2013 - 11:00 AM
The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricy. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
That could make him a fantasy value.
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsDataand a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.