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Jonathan Bales Staff Writer June 18, 2012 8:38PM EST

The Xtra Point: Finley Isn’t Fantastic

Jermichael Finley is again being heralded as one of the season’s top breakout candidates. The 25-year old has all the physical tools in the world, and last year he posted career-highs in receptions (55), yards (767), and touchdowns (eight). In Green Bay’s high-powered offense, Finley could be poised to put up some monster numbers in 2012. Still, he is being over-valued in early Fantasy drafts and projected production, and here are reasons why.

  • Finley’s potential has yet to be realized.

The 6’5’’, 247-pound Finley is one of the NFL’s premier physical specimens. He’s big, fast, and powerful. The best predictor of future performance is past success, however, and Finley has little of it. For a player that talks as much as Finley, you’d like more than 3.8 touchdowns per season.

  • Finley has limited upside.

This one will probably shock some of you, but Finley actually has a rather low ceiling. A big part of that limited outlook is a Packers’ offense that spreads the ball around as well as any in the league. Finley racked up 91 targets last year, good for just 11th among all tight ends. Even if we project Finley at 110 targets, which is pushing it, his ceiling for receptions is around 70, considering his career catch rate. That number would be fine if it were his projection, and thus a likely occurrence, but it’s not a great “best-case scenario.”

  • Finley plays in-line more than you think.

According to Pro Football Focus, Finley played only 145 snaps in the slot in 2012. That was good for 17.4-percent of Finley’s snaps, ranking him 16th in the league. The majority of the time, Finley plays from an “in-line” position that naturally limits his upside.

  • Finley’s efficiency will likely decline.

Finley posted 13.9 yards-per-catch in 2011. That number will probably decrease some in 2012. Using a regression of tight end YPC, I projected Finley to check in at 13.5 YPC. That’s not far behind his career-high of 14.3 YPC, with the point being Finley isn’t as explosive as a player like Jimmy Graham. He needs to haul in a lot of passes to provide top-tier Fantasy points, and he won’t do that in the Packers’ offense.

  • Finley’s Average Draft Position is too high.

Finley is currently getting selected as the fifth tight end off the board in 2012, behind only Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, and Vernon Davis. And check this out. . .

Finley’s current ADP of 6.06 is over a round ahead of Fred Davis and over two full rounds ahead of Brandon Pettigrew. Using a regression of YPC, both Davis and Pettigrew are projected to surpass Finley in receiving yards in 2012. Finley could score more touchdowns, but he’ll probably need to post 12 or more to live up to his ADP.

Jonathan Bales is the Founder of TheDCTimes.com and writes for the New York Times and Dallas Cowboys. He’s the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.

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