By Chris Serri
The start of the 2014 NFL season is only 27 days away, and that means that fantasy draft season is upon us. Many are doing intensive research as I write this article, using websites such as rotoworld and rotoviz, in hopes of figuring out who the biggest sleepers are at each position for the middle to late rounds of their drafts. Perhaps deeper than any other position in fantasy is wide receiver. While this may be true, in reality, it is a position that will see players flying off the board rapidly in fantasy. With that in mind, it is important for fantasy drafters to be familiar with some of the undervalued receivers that can make a big impact on their roster, and Greg Jennings happens to be one of the biggest sleepers at wide receiver.
Last year’s season was far from spectacular for Jennings, but he did manage to put up some respectable numbers, especially considering he did it in what was an absololutely tumultuous quarterback situation in Minnesota. Despite the 3-headed “monster” at quarterback that was Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel, Jennings was able to produce 68 catches for 804 yards on 101 targets, catching 67% of the balls targeting him. While he only hauled in 4 touchdowns, he’s primed for a bigger season, despite what some think.
There are several common arguments against Greg Jennings having any fantasy relevance this season. For starters, Cordarrelle Patterson had a strong finish to the 2013 season, finishing first among all receivers in fantasy points the last four weeks of the season, and there is no indication that he will slow down this year. His volume will surely increase, and this is something that is going to scare fantasy owners from drafting Jennings.
There is also, of course. Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph is a talented tight end who has had his ups and downs this season, with his most recent down being a 2013 mid-season foot injury that cut his year short. With the hiring of Norv Turner back in January, Rudolph is expected to have a massive role on offense this year, as Turner has a reputation for getting the most out of his tight ends.
Due to high volume that Patterson and Rudolph are expected to receive in 2014, and also to the fact that the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, fantasy owners are reluctant to grab Jennings late in their drafts. While it is true that that the Vikings have other skill position players that figure to get a heavy amount of volume, Jennings is still technically the #1 wide receiver on the depth chart. He may be getting older, buts he still possesses sufficient speed and quickness, and is easily the best route runner on the team. Moreover, with Peterson and Patterson figuring to draw much of the attention of defenses, Jennings will surely have a lot of opportunities to produce.
Currently, Greg Jennings’ ADP (Average Draft Position) is in the middle of the 13th round of 12-team fantasy leagues, which is a good value for a guy like Jennings, who has the chance to put up better numbers than last season. I would be especially high on Jennings if Matt Cassel wins the starting job, which seems likely at this moment. The two had great chemistry last season, and it is very reasonable to expect a touchdown increase for Jennings should Cassel be the starter. Overall, I am not saying that Greg Jennings will be a fantasy “stud” this season, but I do see him as a good value pick late in fantasy drafts. Fantasy owners should continue to keep an eye on him throughout the rest of the preseason and monitor his ADP.