Fantasy Reaction: Greg Jennings Signs With Minnesota
Just two days after Minnesota traded star receiver Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, the Vikings signed Greg Jennings to a five-year contract. While Jennings can’t match Harvin in speed or in big-play ability, he is a nice fit for quarterback Christian Ponder.
It seems forever ago that Jennings was the man in Green Bay. Over the last two seasons, he was overshadowed by the breakout success of Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb. With those options already under contract and with Jennings missing half of the 2012 season because of an abdominal injury, he became the odd man out.
The Packers’ loss is the Vikings’ gain, however.
Remember how Alex Smith refused to throw the ball down the field when he was in San Francisco? Well, Smith had a 7.7-yard average depth of target in 2012. Ponder had a 6.8-yard average depth of target, which was far and away the lowest of all starting quarterbacks. Ponder has a small arm, which was exacerbated in 2012 by a lack of real downfield threats outside of Harvin. Harvin, too, found himself at the bottom of the aDOT list at wide receiver despite his home-run speed. Ponder simply didn’t take shots. He threw 36 passes 20 or more yards downfield. That’s 15 fewer than Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw the second-fewest of the 33 attempts-qualified quarterbacks.
The thing about Jennings, though, is he’s tremendous in the slot. In 2011, his last healthy season, Jennings ran 49.8 percent of his routes in the slot, and out of 45 receivers with 15 or more slot targets, he was one of just 11 receivers to have a catch rate over 70 percent. Despite the contrast in their physical makeup, that production is remarkably similar to Harvin’s in 2012.
Jennings will join a Vikings team that’s barren at receiver. With Harvin traded and Michael Jenkins cut, Kyle Rudolph is their only returning player that saw 50 targets in 2012. Because of his elite production with the Packers, it is easy to forget that Jennings was never one of the most-targeted receivers in the league. From 2007-2012, Jennings reached 100 targets just twice and never exceeded 120. In fact, 80 receptions is his career-high. Percy Harvin had 60 receptions in half a season in 2012.
Without Aaron Rodgers and the elite talent around him, Jennings will command defensive attention that will limit his potential on any given play, but he should make up for that on volume and then some. At 29 years old, coming off an injury and in a pedestrian offense, the ceiling of a top-five receiver in fantasy is gone, but his floor is pretty high. Consider Jennings a borderline WR2 in 2013.