Even though this has been the worst season of his career, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings looks like a sleeping fantasy giant as we head into the postseason.
Prior to 2012, Jennings was one of the most consistent and reliable receivers the Packers had. He had at least 920 yards every season from 2007-11 and 46 touchdown receptions during that span.
This season has been a different story entirely. Injuries have derailed Jennings, as he was forced to miss seven games with a lower abdominal muscle injury that required surgery. He returned last week against the Minnesota Vikings and had four catches for 46 yards.
Those numbers are not exactly going to get fantasy owners running to the waiver wire to snap Jennings up, nor will the fact that he has just 16 catches, 124 yards and one touchdown all season, but there are reasons to be optimistic.
First and foremost, Jennings is back healthy. Using the Captain Obvious analysis, you have to be on the field to put up numbers.
Second, as soon as Jennings came back, Jordy Nelson re-injured his hamstring injury in the game against the Vikings. Nelson has battled a hamstring injury for over a month, including missing a game against Jacksonville.
The Packers don't sound optimistic about Nelson's prospects for Week 14 against the Detroit Lions. Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters (via ESPN.com) that he doesn't know how long Nelson will be out.
I don't know how many weeks Jordy would be out. I think he would be pressed hard to play this week. Once we get past the initial couple days and see what he can do on the practice field, those questions will be answered.
When one player goes down, someone else has an opportunity to step up. Jennings isn't exactly a scrub or unknown player being thrust into the spotlight—he has been a star for a long time, just not this season.
The Packers will need Jennings to step up his performance in order to keep their lead in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers, despite his ability to spread the ball around, does have a certain level of comfort with players like Jennings and Nelson.
The Lions have problems in pass coverage, so Rodgers is going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays down the field.
Jennings needed that game against Minnesota last weekend to get back in the groove and get used to the speed of the defensive players again. Now that he has gotten his feet wet, it is time to have the big breakout game of the season.
Most of your fantasy lineups are going to be set, but if you are looking for upside, Jennings has to be on your radar over the final month of the season.