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Cordarrelle Patterson Is Wearing Greg Jennings’ Harvard Tie

Eddie Murphy

“I had the most absurd nightmare. I was poor and no one liked me.  I lost my job, I lost my house, Penelope hated me and it was all because of — Cordarrelle Patterson.”

In the 1983 hall of fame comedy “Trading Places,” Louis Winthorpe, a pompous and intelligently ignorant highbrow, suddenly finds himself the pawn in a ridiculous one dollar nature vs. nurture bet.  Randolph and Mortimer Duke, callous owners of a Commodities Brokerage firm, have nothing better to do with their lives than wager petty disagreements. Winthorpe is kicked to the curb and bamboozled out of his Managing Director job to make way for Billy Ray Valentine, a smooth-talking street hustler with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Sound familiar?

The fantasy community has done a wonderful job playing the role of the Duke Brothers in its value assessment of both Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jennings may as well be Louis Winthorpe. Patterson came on late last year scoring 2.03 fantasy points per touch/target starting Week 13, and is now a fourth-round PPR pick. Jennings, meanwhile, also came on late last year when the Minnesota Vikings finally turned away from the Christian Ponder project for good. Jennings scored 2.06 Fantasy Points per Target starting Week 13 and is getting drafted in the 12th round according to Fantasy Football Calculator.

The Patterson ADP Enigma record has been playing on the jukebox all offseason, and RotoViz has provided plenty of perspective, so feel free to take a detour if you wish:

I took to the Projection Machine to investigate further and get a better sense of how the Vikings offense will shake out. As a precursor, RotoViz Staff provided a take on the Viking’s top down projections last month.

MIN Team Level


I’m sticking with the Vegas line. It’s a difficult task to try and keep pace with the NFC North, but this is a team that seems like they’re going to turn the volume up as the season progresses. Norv Turner is historically a run-centric coach, but I couldn’t turn the nob down on pass tendency more than I did given the track meets they should find themselves in six times a year. I did account for this a bit in the pace bucket, but again, it’s hard to find a season where Turner didn’t rack up 555 attempted passes. His career PCTPASS average is right around 56 percent, but I bumped that up a tad given the anticipated game scripts.

QB level

I split the difference between Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater play style in terms of Sack Rate, Mobility, and INT Rate. I was very tempted to go all in on Bridgewater, but it’s looking like he won’t get his chance until mid-season.1 Regardless, there will be some friendly match-ups to be had from the Vikings quarterback this year for those that like to wait really late or had Sad Sam Bradford as part of their previous plan.2



TE level

I’m looking at the San Diego Chargers as the obvious model Turner will emulate, and on the surface the personnel is in place to make this work. The dynamic of Jennings and Patterson at receiver is interesting because Patterson looks ready to take the top off a defense, but it’s far-fetched to assume that he’s ready to come in and help from a chain-moving possession capacity. Based on historical usage in San Diego, Jennings is still the guy that’s going to be used between the 20s. In 2013 touches and targets for Patterson were manufactured and we should expect much of that continue, but I did give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that his reYPT will increase based on the anticipated vertical game. In this projection model, I also think I’m being pretty friendly to Patterson in terms of projected target share as I have him taking in just under 20 percent of the total targets. It actually seems likely that Jennings would pull down 25 percent of the target market share. I’m going to give Billy Ray Patterson the benefit of the doubt for the sake of this exercise because when we was a kid, he had to fart in the bathtub if he wanted to make bubbles.

I continued the exercise to round out the tight end and running back position because Louis Jennings is nothing without Ophelia, and food and rent aren’t the only things that cost money around here.

TE level

I’d say that Kyle Rudolph’s ADP is right on par, and we should expect him to finish as a mid-to-low starting TE for fantasy teams. I projected him out at a conservative 18 percent of the target market share. Rudolph could flirt with top five value if he’s depended on to move the chains more a la Antonio Gates in the mid 2000s.


Turner RBs

I’m starting to wonder why I don’t have All Day as my top RB option. I suppose the inevitability of a couple weeks on the bench has slanted my stance, but Turner is a Godsend for Peterson owners. I’m still projecting him to own almost 70 percent of the workload, and based on historical trends we should certainly take Turner’s word for it that he plans on getting Peterson 40-60 catches out of the backfield.

The carry share will remain in tact, the receiving  metrics should all get a bump, and Peterson is about as safe as an early round pick can get as long as you secure a McKinnon or a mid-round Jeremy Hill or Andre Williams.3

Let’s get back to the receiving breakdowns.

MINN Passing position Breakdowns

Since we know from the Projection Machine primer the names we see above are ADP based, not role based, we need to flip the names in the WR1 and WR2 categories. Jennings is still coming off the board at an ADP of 53, and we’ve projected him out to 20! I would say we’ve been conservative along the way. Patterson has an ADP of 16, yet we’ve projected him out to 35. The wildcard here is the rushing projection, and his ADP means that the big plays must happen, the rushing plays must happen, and the kick return impact must also happen in order to warrant his current ADP.

Everyone seems to remember how Patterson flashed toward the end of last year, but we’re also forgetting what Jennnings’ usage looked like along the way. Generally the wisdom of the crowd wins out, but there are always nooks and crannies to find in ADP.  Patterson will probably prove his ADP is worth the cost in a vacuum, but I also think that it’s a risk you don’t have to take. You can overdraft Jennings vs. his ADP and still replicate that production on your team while you use the fourth-round pick elsewhere.

By drafting Patterson at his opportunity cost, you’re essentially saying that you believe that one of two things will happen:

  1. Cordarrelle Patterson will eventually switch Wide Receiver positions with Greg Jennings in order to assume the X role that has historically demanded the highest target market share in a Norval Turner lead offense. 
  2. Patterson’s talent will prevail, and Turner will re-engineer his offense to feature Patterson as the 1A from his current Flanker role. 

Let’s play both of these scenarios out.

Cordarrelle Patterson will eventually switch Wide Receiver positions with Greg Jennings in order to assume the X role that has historically demanded the highest target market share in a Norval Turner lead offense. 

YearTeamPlayerPositionTGT%TGT Leader
2013CLEJosh GordonLWR23.7Y
2012SDMalcom FloydLWR16.6Y
2011SDVincent JacksonLWR20.3Y
2010SDMalcom FloydLWR14.3Y
2009SDVincent JacksonLWR21Y
2008SDVincent JacksonLWR19.9Y
2007SDVincent JacksonLWR16.5Y
2006SDVincent JacksonLWR11.4N
2005OAKJerry PorterLWR22.4Y
2004OAKJerry PorterLWR22.1Y

With a quick glance at the above table, we can see that the receiver lining up on left has been the featured receiver in Turner’s offense.  Now 2013 was Josh Gordon, so I’m not overthinking it. — who wouldn’t target Josh Gordon the most? As we work our way farther down the list, we see that Vincent Jackson was the target monster in San Diego, and Malcom Floyd took the role over during his injuries, hold-out, and eventual departure. Turner didn’t leave Floyd on the right, he moved him over to the position which is featured in his offense. The trend can be followed back to Jerry Porter in Oakland, and even the Washington Redskins 4  There was only one year that the Split-End receiver wasn’t featured, and Jackson was still green at this point.

Let’s took a look at the current depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings according to

OurLads MIN Depth Chart

As we can see above, Greg Jennings is the receiver that is in place to take on the historical Split-End Turner option. Let’s also take a closer look into the receiving performance of the Split End in Turner’s offense:

Turner Market Share

Starting with 2004 and 2005, you can see how high in demand the LWR (Porter) was in Turner’s offense. As Vincent Jackson matured and crafted his trade, we see how his target share increased. It’s also easy to differentiate when Jackson was either injured or holding out and when Floyd took over the role.  Patterson is a very gifted player, but even Jackson took some time to grow into that role.

I do also need to share what’s currently listed on the depth chart per

Vikings Depth Chart

It’s clear as crystal that Patterson is listed as the WR1 in this offense. Based on what data has showed us, however, the traditional Flanker role 5 is not the featured player in Turner’s offense. Since we’ve established this, where they currently line up disqualifies Patterson to take on this role.  This leads us to the next point:

Patterson’s talent is will prevail, and Turner will re-engineer his offense to feature Patterson as the 1A from his current Flanker role. 


This is positive news that was released early this off season. How often will the Vikings deploy these new packages?



More positive buzz released during the off season, although I have to admit that work ethic is enough to sell me. 6



I love that Patterson is on a mission. I really do. Come along on a fantastic voyage.



The buzz is picking up, and Patterson is improving his route running. 7

I’ll stop — I’ve made my point. We don’t have anything to hang our hats on that says Patterson will either move over and assume the Splint-End position, nor do we have anything to hang our hats on that says Turner’s offense will be redesigned to give Patterson the majority target market share. My argument has nothing to do with Patterson’s talent level and much to do about usage and price. The lead receiver in terms of targets can be had 6-8 rounds after the price you need to pay for Patterson, and that usage alone is why Jennings is the receiver to own in 2014. If you’re about to draft in a best-ball format, I Can understand why you want Patterson. If you’re entering a large pool, I can see why you want to draft Patterson. For traditional redraft formats, I just don’t see the point in drafting a player at his ceiling when there are a range of outcomes that disagree with the price tag.

I own Patterson on a few dynasty teams, and I am certainly bought-in for the long term. But his opportunity cost in redraft this year just doesn’t make sense for the most part. Before you draft Patterson this weekend, remember that he’s an impostor wearing Jennings’ Harvard tie.

Money isn’t everything, Mortimer.

Nope, but ADP is, and it ain’t cool being no jive turkey so close to draft day.

Trading Places

  1. Because NFL coaches don’t like to get head starts on the future.  (back)
  2. I really can’t feel any worse for that guy.  (back)
  3. To hope for TDs the couple of weeks that Peterson may miss.  (back)
  4. not featured on the table.  (back)
  5. which is typically the 1A receiver in most offenses  (back)
  6. Sarcasm Font  (back)
  7. This doesn’t state that his route running is where it needs to be in order to make Turner feel good about being his featured X receiver.  (back)

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