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I think Donald Driver is undervalued this year


Randall
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Some disagree saying Driver is in decline but I don't agree with that just yet. I think he's got a year or two left. I don't see him as just a possession receiver either.

 

This article points some things out.

 

Full speed ahead for veteran Driver

BY TOM PELISSERO • TPELISSE@GREENBAYPRESSGAZETTE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2, 2009

 

 

Donald Driver will enter this season as one of the oldest starting receivers in the NFL, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he’s made plays down the field in the Green Bay Packers’ preseason.

 

 

There was his adjustment to quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ inside throw for a 53-yard touchdown in the opener against Cleveland. The 21-yard, back-shoulder play against Buffalo that set up another score. Most impressive, the 55-yard post Driver pulled down on Friday by fighting off Arizona safety Antrel Rolle, a talented former top-10 draft pick eight years Driver’s junior.

 

They were striking plays even without considering Driver is 34 years old and coming off a season in which Greg Jennings surpassed him as the Packers’ No. 1 receiver.

 

So quiet was Driver in the earlygoing a year ago that coaches discussed his numbers and determined they needed to get the three-time Pro Bowl selection more involved.

 

Exhibition games aren’t always an accurate barometer, but it sure seems Driver is going strong physically in his 11th NFL season — and that even with a plethora of weapons, Rodgers will find ways to get him the ball.

 

“This offseason, we talked, and our biggest thing was trusting one another, that we’re going to go out there and make the plays that we need to make,” Driver said this week. “I think now, he trusts me that if he throws one up there, then I’m going to try to make the best (effort) for it. I’ll get myself killed for him.”

 

The Age Gap

 

Based on preseason depth charts, only five receivers older than Driver are projected as starters this season, topped by the No. 3 man in New England’s spread offense, 37-year-old Joey Galloway. San Francisco’s Isaac Bruce and Carolina’s Muhsin Muhammad remain starters at 36, while Buffalo’s Terrell Owens and Baltimore’s Derrick Mason are 35.

 

Unlike all of those players, Driver has made it this far with one team. He’s avoided major injuries — the type that have rerouted the careers of unemployed ex-stars such as Marvin Harrison, 37, and Amani Toomer, 34 — and battled age with a workout regimen that only has expanded as he’d gotten older.

 

“He’s got a rabbit’s foot in his pocket, but he’s a true professional,” Packers strength and conditioning coach Dave Redding said. “He’s a guy that stays in shape year-round. He’s a guy who understands your body is your job.”

 

Consistently a little under 200 pounds and among the lowest on the team in body-fat percentage, Driver reported bigger for training camp this year than he’s ever been, but only by a couple of pounds. Where he used to take off an extended period after each season to rest, he now limits himself to one week before resuming workouts at a speed camp near his offseason home in Flower Mound, Texas.

 

“He understands what it takes to be able to play at the level that he has played at for a long time, and there aren’t any shortcuts,” receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. “You can’t decide, because you’re getting a little bit older, that you’re going to take it easy and that’ll make you play longer. That’s exactly the opposite. You’re going to have to train harder in order to keep that edge.”

 

Moving Forward

 

Driver’s numbers last season — 74 receptions for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns — were his most modest since 2003, when he sprained his neck in the opener. But they were skewed by a near-invisible September in which Driver totaled only 174 receiving yards and had one catch for 8 yards at Tampa Bay, the low point in his first season playing without his friend and longtime quarterback, Brett Favre.

 

Asked this week if he was frustrated, Driver said, “When you get to that point, you seem to explode and bust. I don’t think I ever got to that point. I think I just realized that this is the way it has to be, and when you can understand that, it makes you comfortable in what you do.

 

“I’ve known I can play; I don’t think I have to prove that to anyone. It’s all about opportunities, and I didn’t have all the opportunities last year.”

 

Even though Driver’s role increased thereafter, allowing him to hit the 1,000-yard mark for a team-record sixth time, there was some concern he would sulk after the Packers gave Jennings a new four-year, $26.885 million contract in June. That concern stemmed in part from Driver’s decision to skip the first week of voluntary offseason workouts following the team’s refusal to rework his own deal, which is due to pay him $3.9 million in base salary this season and more than $7 million in salary and bonuses in its final year, 2010.

 

Instead, Driver has redoubled his efforts in the weight room, and his play in practice and the preseason has been, in the words of one scout, “very impressive.”

 

His Legacy

 

Driver almost surely will break the Packers’ career receptions record this season — Driver has 577, only 18 short of Sterling Sharpe’s 595 — and is two decent seasons away from the yardage record as well.

 

“I don’t see his talent diminishing in any way,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “That one play (at Arizona) was as good a play as we had all day. … He’s an integral part of the offense, huge contributor.”

 

Driver thinks he added five years to his career by playing sparingly in his first three as a seventh-round pick out of Alcorn State. His goal is to play to age 40 — a timeline would put him on the field through at least the 2014 season — and he hopes to do it in a Packers uniform.

 

General Manager Ted Thompson has been reluctant to re-sign any player over age 30, however, and Driver says he’s trying not to think much about his NFL future beyond pushing his body to extend it.

 

“I have one year left (on his contract after this),” Driver said. “I have one year left, so I don’t know. This is my goal. My goal is to be here the rest of my career, retire here.

 

“When I came here in ’99, (former General Manager) Ron Wolf gave me the opportunity to be here. Now that I’m here, now it’s just, continue that legacy.”

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I like him late this year. I am looking to grab Driver and Mason-who is pretty undervalued right now- for my bench guys.

starters targeting

Fitz

Welker

Royal

bench targeting

Mason

Driver

Ward

 

 

Mason is even more under-valued in my opinion.

 

Drivers ADP is 29th WR and Mason is 37. Isn't he the #1 starter on the Ravens?

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Yup. Again he is the only thing they have out there and I think having a QB for the first time ever may make him an every week start. At the very least a very good bench guy- 80 balls for 1000 and 5 TD.

 

 

You could see that by how they talked him out of retiring.

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Randall thinks a rising tide lifts all boats in GB.

 

I don't think it does - GB will be a better team with a better record, but DD will be about 60-900-5, at best.

That statement is just backwards to me. I think most everyone agrees that the Pack offense is better and they should win enough games to at least get a wild card spot,(the Vikes got the division IMO!) so why on earth would you think Driver would decline!? Who's going to take all those grabs from him? Jordy Nelson!? Especially with Driver doing nothing the first few weeks last year, I just see zero way that his numbers would go down barring an odd injury or two. I really like him to put up Welker like numbers, high number of grabs and yards with a few TD's 4-8.

Edited by griff321
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Randall thinks a rising tide lifts all boats in GB.

 

I don't think it does - GB will be a better team with a better record, but DD will be about 60-900-5, at best.

 

 

What I said was last year Rodgers missed him on 2 long passes. This year their communication is better and I think he'll complete those 2 passes.

 

You said you think he's in decline. I don't think he's there yet.

 

We also disagree on Rodgers. I think he'll do a little better too. I see 4400/30 for Rodgers and 1200/8 for Driver.

 

There's nothing wrong with honest disagreements.

 

Time will tell. I know players decline quickly but don't think Driver is there just yet.

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I see 4400/30 for Rodgers and 1200/8 for Driver.

I am aiming for both guys but sorry that's delusional. I like Rodgers but don't see him as another Brees/Manning stats-wise.

 

And even if Driver only goes about 60-900-5 (I suspect at least a little more), I can live w/that from the last WR I draft.

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I am aiming for both guys but sorry that's delusional. I like Rodgers but don't see him as another Brees/Manning stats-wise.

 

And even if Driver only goes about 60-900-5 (I suspect at least a little more), I can live w/that from the last WR I draft.

 

 

Not Brees or Manning just shy of Cutler last year.

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That statement is just backwards to me. I think most everyone agrees that the Pack offense is better and they should win enough games to at least get a wild card spot,(the Vikes got the division IMO!) so why on earth would you think Driver would decline!?

 

I said a better TEAM. And maybe even a better, more efficient offense - which means a better running game, etc. They MIGHT score more but will need fewer yards to do it, but with a better D they won't HAVE to rack up offense at the end of the game, they'll just need to play ball control and shorten the game.

Who's going to take all those grabs from him? Jordy Nelson!? Especially with Driver doing nothing the first few weeks last year, I just see zero way that his numbers would go down barring an odd injury or two. I really like him to put up Welker like numbers, high number of grabs and yards with a few TD's 4-8.

WELKER numbers?

 

Good luck with that. As far as who's going to take his catches - IF Driver declines even a bit, Nelson, Jones, etc are there to slide right in. Even if he doesn't, I think Finley is going to chink away at his production - along with the younger WRs.

 

I certainly wouldn't mind Driver as my 3 or 4 but I view him as a lower level 2 at this point.

 

As Randall said, reasonable people can disagree. We'll see.

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I've targeted Driver, James Jones, and J. Finley in most of my drafts this year, if they fall to the right spot, depending on format. I'm happy to have Driver as a WR3 in redrafts, or even in keeper leagues if the value is right. That said, I COULD see him staying about the same or slightly declining in catches/yards simply due to the fact that Jones, Finley, and Nelson all have another year under their belts. Not enough balls to go around if a couple of those guys catch more than they did last year (which I think most people assume they will). Still, with the GB offense appearing to be clicking on all cylinders, I wouldn't be surprised if he surpasses last year's TD total (5). I would expect something in the range of 70/950/6 from Driver this year, assuming he stays healthy and on the field... I'm content with those numbers from my WR3. Just not much "upside" for him to put up numbers much higher than those, IMO.

 

Jones very well could be just a year away from taking over the #2 WR spot in GB... With that high-powered passing offense, I think he'll contribute this year, but not enough to be a fantasy factor. I think he's got great keeper value, though, and targeted him in several leagues before even some of the top rookie WR's from this year's draft.

 

Finley appears to be the real deal... athletic pass-catching TE who is a beast in single coverage. I've targeted him in every keeper/dynasty draft, and am comfortable with him as a backup TE in redrafts as well (I've got another solid option in most redrafts that I drafted him in... Gates, Daniels, etc.).

Edited by Gopher
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I like Driver and have tons of respect for him as a player, but there is no way I want him on my team as anything more than a #4. He has a low ceiling right now and is going to eventually get phased out. Finley is on my dynasty team and will be there for a long time. As for the WR I am targeting other than Jennings (duh), I am big on Nelson. I think that Jones is too injury prone and will be a fantasy tease for a long time. A solid game here and there with lots of weak games in between. Nelson will be more reliabe and will handle more of the Welker type of position where he will catch (eventually) a ton of balls but will have to work for his TDs with YAC.

 

I had Jones for a year but cut him in favor of Nelson. It will not make of break my team but I have high hopes for Nelson next year.

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I see 4400/30 for Rodgers and 1200/8 for Driver.

 

There's nothing wrong with honest disagreements.

 

Time will tell. I know players decline quickly but don't think Driver is there just yet.

I'm right there with you on Rodgers, and at the end of the season Fantasy circles won't say Brady/Brees/Manning... It's going to be Brady/Rodgers/Brees.

I disagree with Drivers numbers of 1,200 and 8. I can see somewhere around 1,000 yards and 4-5 TD's, but Jennings will lead the team in TD's, Jones will be healthy, Finley is going to emerge this year, and Grant and the ground game will be much better.

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I like Driver and have tons of respect for him as a player, but there is no way I want him on my team as anything more than a #4. He has a low ceiling right now and is going to eventually get phased out. Finley is on my dynasty team and will be there for a long time. As for the WR I am targeting other than Jennings (duh), I am big on Nelson. I think that Jones is too injury prone and will be a fantasy tease for a long time. A solid game here and there with lots of weak games in between. Nelson will be more reliabe and will handle more of the Welker type of position where he will catch (eventually) a ton of balls but will have to work for his TDs with YAC.

 

I had Jones for a year but cut him in favor of Nelson. It will not make of break my team but I have high hopes for Nelson next year.

 

 

Jennings was injury prone too his first year and part of his second.

 

Last year at this time Rodgers was injury prone.

 

I like Driver for one more year.

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so why on earth would you think Driver would decline!? Who's going to take all those grabs from him?

James Jones, JerMichael Finley, Jordy Nelson. He has way more guys to share with. It's no longer Greg Jennings and Donald Driver... It's a long line of guys that can do things. The ball is going to be shared and spread out. The only sure things number wise in the passing game to me are Greg Jennings staying elite and Finley making some serious noise as TE's go. James Jones is going to get his this year.

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We need to start thinking of Sigs to hand out to the Bears, Vikings, and Lions fans... In that order. :wacko:

:D Not so fast, my friend. As much as I like the GB defense to be improved under Capers this year, and their offense is definitely a well-oiled machine in the pre-season, let's just wait and see what happens in the actual games that matter. I think the division as a whole is greatly improved with the additions of Cutler, Stafford, and Favre (again), but I believe it's going to be a two-team race between MN and GB. I don't think Chicago has enough weapons to keep up, and Detroit is Detroit.

 

The Vikes obviously have the better running game, for sure, with GB getting the nod in the passing attack. As much as I think the GB defense will be much improved, I think the Vikings will have the best defense in the division, and maybe even the entire NFC, when it's all said and done. I think the division is strong enough, though, that both could make the playoffs (GB as a wild card). :D

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Schedules are pretty much dead even... All common opponents, including where they play, other than two games:

 

GB hosts Dallas and goes to TB.

 

MN hosts NYG and travels to Carolina.

 

I give a SLIGHT edge to GB, in terms of an easier road (only because of TB's new QB/HC/DC), but it's about as even as you can get.

 

I see both teams right around 11-5, possibly 12-4, with it possibly coming down to the 4th or 5th tiebreaker for the division title. Of course, now that I've said that (and the season hasn't even begun), Chicago will probably win the division by three games. :wacko:

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I have to admit, just looking at the schedules a minute ago, I'm extremely pumped up for next weekend... Can not wait, in terms of FF, as well as just being able to see if the Vikes have finally taken that step towards being a legit contender (not necessarily by acquiring Favre as much as just the team maturing/improving as a whole). :D

 

Like how I've attempted to hijack this Driver thread by discussing the Vikings? :wacko:

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I have to admit, just looking at the schedules a minute ago, I'm extremely pumped up for next weekend... Can not wait, in terms of FF, as well as just being able to see if the Vikes have finally taken that step towards being a legit contender (not necessarily by acquiring Favre as much as just the team maturing/improving as a whole). :D

 

Like how I've attempted to hijack this Driver thread by discussing the Vikings? :wacko:

 

 

 

It's OK. The Driver thread ran out its usefullness I think.

 

 

 

:D We and Bears fans are pumped up for our opening game too. :D

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