As has been suggested in recent days, San Diego’s No. 1 wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, has been suspended for the first three games of the 2010 season for a NFL personal conduct policy violation. The suspension could be appealed and reduced but that is unlikely.
Jackson has been rocketing up ADP lists recently after a great 2009 campaign where he compiled 68 receptions for 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns. Many (including us) felt that Jackson would build upon this performance and reach double digit touchdowns along with a healthy increase in his yardage and reception totals.
While this still could be possible, it will much tougher with only 13 games on his schedule.
What does this mean for other skill position players?
Legedu Naanee WR
The 26-year-old’s (27 on September 16th) opportunity has arrived! Naanee has been unable to break into the starting lineup since being drafted in 2007. Last season saw a mini-breakthrough of sorts when he posted his career best line of 24 catches, for 242 yards, and two touchdowns.
With good size, and more than adequate speed, Naanee immediately moves into a starting role, if only for the three games Jackson will miss.
Naanee does possess a certain dynamic and could leverage this opportunity into a solidified starting role for the Chargers. Considering that fellow starter Malcolm Floyd hasn’t solidified his No. 2 role as of yet, the opportunity for Naanee to supplant Floyd is there.
Malcom Floyd WR
The 28-year-old (29 on September 8th) had his best year in 2009 as well, totaling 45 catches, for 776 yards, and one touchdown. Floyd’s hold on the No. 2 wideout spot is tenuous, but he will be given another year to build upon 2009.
With Jackson out of the loop for the first three games, it is unclear who will be filling his shoes in the Chargers' offense. My belief is that Floyd is a better possession receiver and red zone target than Naanee. Both would appear to be less-than-stellar options in the fantasy world until proven otherwise.
Craig "Buster" Davis WR
Entering his fourth campaign for the Chargers, Davis may be playing his last games with the team. Jackson’s three-game vacation allows Davis one last opportunity to be productive in an offense that will need productivity from its receivers. That production will have to come as San Diego’s third wideout.
In all likelihood, Davis will slip back into anonymity once Jackson returns. But should Davis step up as the youngest receiver with any amount of experience, 2011 could see an expanded role for him.
Antonio Gates TE
Gates has been the linchpin and first-look option in the Chargers offense since 2003. Since Jackson’s increased presence in 2009 Gates has found more workable seams and fewer double teams.
It stands to reason that Gates will see an increased number of receptions through the first three games but not to a level that drastically increases his value as an aging stud tight end. He is still worthy of a top four selection at the position.
Philip Rivers QB
With new running back Ryan Mathews and the trusted Gates at his disposal, Rivers will not be adversely affected long enough to drop his ADP ranking or 2010 production. Unless Jackson’s continued behavior continues to draw the ire of the commissioner, it is safe to continue drafting Rivers highly within the quarterback position.
Vincent Jackson has displayed a disturbing level of behavior over a long enough period of time that dynasty owners must begin to drop Jackson’s value.
With multiple events spanning multiple years, there does exist a greater possibility that an eight or 16-game suspension could be looming unless Jackson can take corrective action.
Time and time again, we have seen players that cannot get their acts together, halting them from realizing their full potential. Even with the possibility of a trade to a team such as the Seahawks, a wide receiver's role in an offense and corresponding fantasy production are not guarantees with a new team.
If this suspension passes without further incident, I am inclined to keep Jackson in the top five at the wide receiver position. However, his average draft position overall will take a small hit as players from other positions, without conduct issues, take priority.
Caveat emptor (Buyer Beware)!