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Sleeper Update: Jeff Janis

jeffjanis

Somehow, I still haven’t written enough words about Jeff Janis despite declaring my love for him before the draft and then noting how perfect his landing spot in Green Bay was. However, after Janis did this…

…I began to get more questions on Twitter about him. At first, I thought it was a longshot that Janis would be a regular contributor for the Green Bay Packers in 2014. I’m not so sure anymore. There are a set of circumstances in Wisconsin that could let Janis see the field this year and open up his path to being a valuable fantasy football asset in 2015 and beyond. With Jared Abberderris tearing his ACL, Janis should be a pretty solid bet to make the Packers’ 53; everything else from there is gravy.

The first thing we need to get out of the way is the Randall Cobb question. We’ve spilled a lot of pixels discussing the relative value of Cobb on this site. I’m of the mind that he’s significantly overvalued in dynasty formats and that he’s a more replaceable player than not while Matt Freedman makes a convincing case that I’m a little too low on him. His true talent level is less important than the fact that he’s probably not going to be a Packer in 2015, as explained by our own Justin Winn.

The second and less discussed topic is that of Jarrett Boykin, who is just a guy. Right now he projects as Green Bay’s third WR behind Jordy Nelson and Cobb, but seems unlikely to add value to that offense.

Name Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump (in) Shuttle 3Cone Agility Score Freak Score DR
Jarrett Boykin 74 217 4.62 95 11 36 123 4.28 7.12 11.4 52 0.25
Jeff Janis 75 219 4.42 115 20 37.5 123 3.98 6.64 10.62 76 0.45

The arguments for drafting Boykin in fantasy are all about who is throwing him the football, and those arguments are totally valid. If he holds on to the third WR job in Green Bay, then aces for him. However, with superior options behind him in Janis and Devante Adams, I’d be sort of shocked if he does hold the job. I get the hesitance to treat players like they can’t ever overcome their physical limitations and part of what is great about football is the human element… but just look at the stark difference between those 2 players. Boykin is physically inferior in every category which leads me to be believe he might struggle in a full time role, similar to the one James Jones played with Jordy Nelson healthy and Greg Jennings still in town.

Adams is going to play before Janis, make no mistake about it. He was the Packers second round draft pick and Ted Thompson isn’t an idiot. He knows what that draft capital means, and he also probably knows how good Adams looks. There is another thing that Thompson and the Packers also probably know: there is a lot of value in simply having lots of draft picks. Bust rates are such that the most sensible plan is to acquire as much young talent as possible and see who pans out. If, for whatever reason, Adams isn’t ready and Janis is, Thompson’s track record indicates that the best players will play.

All of the news coming out of Green Bay surrounding Janis has been positive. Aaron Rodgers stated:

“He’s athletic. He’s fast. He ran his route, caught a ball and outran everybody today. When you’re playing against the first string, you have to run crisp routes and make the plays that are there, so plays like today help him out confidence-wise for sure. He did it in practice last week. Coming back from his ailment, he did a nice job for us.”

In that same piece on the ESPN’s Green Bay Nation blog, Janis’s white, craziliy athletic forefather Jordy Nelson said:

“Janis obviously showed his speed tonight. I was very impressed. He got up the sideline.”

The article goes on to contend that Janis is probably in the lead for the 5th WR job in Green Bay, which is pretty impressive for a rookie from D2 Saginaw Valley State.

I’ve written a lot of words about a 6th round draft pick on a team that already had a glut of wide receivers. Is any of this the sort of league-winning, actionable information that is expect from RotoViz? I think it can be if things break the right way. While rookie WR’s are notoriously unreliable, look at what some WR’s Janis’ size have done in their rookie seasons.

Player Year Age Wt G Rec Yds Y/R TD
Marques Colston 2006 23 225 14 70 1038 14.83 8
Andre Johnson 2003 22 219 16 66 976 14.79 4
Larry Fitzgerald 2004 21 225 16 58 780 13.45 8
Julio Jones 2011 22 220 13 54 959 17.76 8
Tim Wright 2013 23 220 16 54 571 10.57 5
Josh Gordon 2012 21 220 16 50 805 16.1 5
Calvin Johnson 2007 22 239 15 48 756 15.75 4
Michael Floyd 2012 23 220 16 45 562 12.49 2
Matt Jones 2005 22 242 16 36 432 12 5
Mike Williams 2005 21 229 14 29 350 12.07 1
Reggie Williams 2004 21 225 16 27 268 9.93 1
Alshon Jeffery 2012 22 230 10 24 367 15.29 3
Javon Walker 2002 24 220 15 23 319 13.87 1
Plaxico Burress 2000 23 226 12 22 273 12.41 0
Demaryius Thomas 2010 23 229 10 22 283 12.86 2

A pretty elite list of comparable players and seasons, even if you weren’t able to start a lot of those guys week to week. A strict caveat that needs to be applied here is that a majority of these players are first round picks and there is a much longer list of guys who were Janis’ size that didn’t do anything their rookie seasons or in subsequent years. But part of fantasy football is being able to envision the best-case scenario. After his impressive debut, I’ve been getting some questions about his redraft value and as of right now, he probably doesn’t have any.

A fifth wide receiver, even in the best passing offense in football, isn’t going to have consistent fantasy value… unless he isn’t a fifth wide receiver. In a hypothetical scenario where Green Bay realizes Boykin isn’t very good and Adams doesn’t pick up the offense as quickly as Janis does, then the 3rd wide receiver for Aaron freakin’ Rodgers is a size/speed freak the likes of which we rarely see. Is Boykins going to get replaced without injury? If you were a wagering man, you’d probably say no. Any team with Aaron Rodgers healthy is a Super Bowl contender, so I imagine the coaching staff wants as much stability as possible. This isn’t, however, an impossibility. Thompson, Rodgers and McCarthy hate touchdowns the least out of anyone it seems, so they aren’t going to allow a 2013 Vincent Brown season to happen on their roster, in all likelihood. Part of the problem with analyzing Green Bay WR playing time is all of the turnover the last seasons. They brought in Cobb, shipped out Jennings, Jordy has been hurt and last year were left playing Myles White starters snaps. I don’t know if Boykin gets sent to the bench without injury, but I know that he probably should.

We’re not in the business of selling you on hope. An article that Mr. RotoViz Staff wrote last offseason asked, What’s The Expected Value Of Our Crazy-Ass RotoViz Ideas? That article dealt with an old RotoViz favorite, Aldrick Robinson, who is pretty awesome from a metric standpoint but hasn’t ever seen real playing time. Maybe Jeff Janis is another Aldrick Robinson, another Marvin McNutt, another Aaron Mellette. To borrow a line, what I’m presupposing is… maybe he isn’t. The cost to invest in Janis in any format is so much lower than his potential return that it would be foolish to not add him in dynasty and monitor his playing time as a potential add in redraft leagues. Maybe this is just another crazy-ass RotoViz idea… or maybe it’s a league winning one.

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