Let’s play a game. I’ll be Doc Brown, and you be…well, you. Because, let’s be honest here…even at the end of Back to the Future, did you really want to be Marty McFly? I can’t say as how I did. But I digress. You’re you. Now, then…hop into the DeLorean with me while I crank it to 88, dialing all the way back to 2003, when Antonio Gates worked out for the San Diego Chargers after his NBA career was hauled off to prison by the ‘tweener police. I can’t say for sure, because I wasn’t there the first time, but I’d bet we could hear somebody say something along the lines of: “who the hell is that guy!?!?” Now imagine that guy had been playing football all that time instead of hoops. Now make him taller and a shade faster. Now put a green jersey with #88 on it, and…VOILA! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Mr. Jermichael Finley, the ultimate culmination of what was once the Antonio Gates Experiment.
I’m hearing a lot in fantasy football circles about how Finley is being overrated and overvalued in fantasy drafts. Now, I’m not sure what all that means, but I’ll be just fine being the guy who overvalues him, thank you very much. My reasons are these:
1. Aaron Rodgers is my #1 quarterback for the 2010 fantasy football season. He’s an outstanding quarterback in a pass-heavy offense with weapons galore. Now, you may reasonably have him lower than 1, but if you have him lower than 5 you’re just stubborn, and therefore shall benefit no further from my wisdom. Move along.
2. Aaron Rodgers loves him some Jermichael Finley (and what young quarterback wouldn’t like a monster like that splitting the seam wide open?). During 2009 training camp, Rodgers called Finley “unguardable.” After opening the season as the #2 to Donald Lee, Finley gained Rodgers’ trust and led the Packers in targets over the final 8 games of 2009. In other words, he has become an elite quarterback’s security blanket. Fantasy gold.
3. I defy you to find a more impossible red zone cover in the National Football League. You can’t. I quote LeRoy Butler: “When you get to the 20-yard line, that’s when No. 88 should get every ball. Jermichael Finley is a bad matchup for every defensive back and linebacker in the National Football League.” LeRoy was a safety, by the way. He would know.
4. Finley’s 2009 would have already convinced you had he not been held out of three games with a knee injury. It might have been a bit of a kid gloves situation, but can you really blame them? They were scoring plenty without him and he’s a big part of their future. No need to risk it with a knee. But look at those numbers, nonetheless. Over the final seven games, he caught 38 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns, a 16-game pace of roughly 87-951-10. And he finished it off with 6 catches for 159 yards on Adrian Wilson in the NFC divisional round. If Adrian Wilson can’t hang with him, the vast majority of safeties in the league are in deep, deep trouble (see point no. 3, above).
5. He’s a supremely gifted athlete who is working at the game. “In the OTAs he had the least amount of mental errors of anybody. He’s applying himself. He knows the offense. He’s not comfortable getting by on talent alone. He wants more,” said Packers Tight Ends Coach Bob McAdoo (Can he still shoot it, I wonder?). “What’s exciting about him, he gets better every week,” said Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Presumably, then, Finley’s impressive 2009 will be significantly improved upon.
Look, show me all the contrary numbers you want. Tell me about how he hasn’t put up the numbers that a Witten or a Gonzalez have.
You’re right. Until now. The guy is only 23, after all. He passes every test I have, and especially the eye test. Every time I watched the Packers last year, Jermichael Finley jumped off the screen. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coaching staff have gone out of their way to tell you they see the same thing I do (we’ll go ahead and let them take the credit this time). Draft him and be happy, because in 2010, when it comes to your fantasy tight end, you will T.G.I.F….”Thank God It’s FINLEY!!!”