If you go and start with the 2007 season, Greg Jennings has been a consistent touchdown scorer. It was his second year in the NFL, his quarterback was Brett Favre and he played in 13 games, caught 53 passes and 12 of them were for touchdowns. That is a touchdown on every 4.4 catches. Those 12 touchdowns had him in a tie for fourth place among all wide receivers. I want to note that the players ahead of him all had at least 70 catches. The quarterback might have changed (Aaron Rodgers), but over the next four seasons (’08-’11), he caught a total of 34 touchdown passes (8.5 per season). In three of these years, he had at least nine touchdowns. I bring all this up because he was no longer in a Green Bay Packer uniform. His new team was the Minnesota Vikings, and his quarterback was Christian Ponder. (CRAZY! I know…) Yes, he was going to see more targets but the downgrade in quarterback play was going to lead to less quality targets.
Let’s take a look into the game log for 2013…
Weeks 1-3 and 7-12 (eight games):
3.4 catches, 39.1 yards on six targets per game.
Weeks 4-6 and 13-17 (seven games):
5.9 catches, 70.1 yards, .6 touchdowns on 8.3 targets per game.
His final numbers in 15 games was 68 catches, 804 yards, four touchdowns on 106 targets. Those numbers had him finish as the 39th best wide receiver in standard (ESPN) scoring.
You will notice that I am breaking down this game log a bit different then previous. I have it sorted by the quarterbacks (Cassel, Freeman & Ponder) that were throwing Jennings the football in 2013.
This breakdown is going to contain the games that Christian Ponder (seven games) and Josh Freeman (one game) was manning the quarterback position. The first stat that is going to jump out is: there is no touchdowns. None. I did not accidentally leave it out of the game log. In eight games with these two at the helm, he laid a goose egg. The next glaring issue is the number of targets he saw. Or the lack of them. If you expanded his targets over a full season, he would have finished as the 42nd most targeted wide receiver in the NFL. Heck, Jerome Simpson, the Vikings WR2, saw six more targets (102). The last stat I want to bring to your attention is the catch rate during this stretch of games. In these eight games, he caught 27 passes on 48 targets and that comes out to only 56 percent. The prior production in Green Bay should not have been expected to be duplicated as a Viking. But, I definitely did not expect to see this cluster of a mess being produced at his new situation.
In week four versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in London, England, Jennings had a performance that reminded us what he did in a Packers uniform. In this game, he had three catches, for 92 yards, with two touchdowns on four targets. That would not be the only big fantasy output with Cassel throwing him the football. His best game (fantasy-wise) came in week 15 versus the Philadelphia Eagles. In this particular week, he caught 11 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown on 13 targets. This performance earned him 22 fantasy points and a second place finish among wide receivers in standard (ESPN) scoring. Remember that issue with lack of opportunities with Ponder and Freeman? Well, that was not the case with Cassel under center. In seven games, Jennings saw double digit targets in three games (nine or more in four games). If you expanded his 8.3 targets per game over this stretch into a full season, he would have seen 133 targets and finished tied for 20th among wide receivers. One last stat of that shows tangible improvement from his time with Cassel is a very noticeable jump in his catch rate. During these seven games, he caught 71 percent of his targets (+15%). Oops! I lied, I actually have and one more little nugget that I want to share with you. If you take these seven games and expand them over a full 16 games, he would have had 172 fantasy points and finished as the 12th best wide receiver in standard (ESPN) scoring.
It was literally a worst case (Ponder & Freeman) vs best case (Cassel) when you look at his two splits from this past season. So, it was great news for Jennings and his fantasy value when the Vikings resigned Cassel in the off-season. Right now over at myfantasyleague (MFL), he is coming off the board as the 55th WR with pick 135.20 in the 12th round. That has extraordinary value written all over it with/if Cassel is the quarterback in 2014.
You can follow Fantasy with Dase or Days on twitter.