Thursday Thoughts: Vincent Jackson due for a drop off

Tampa Bay wide receiver Vincent Jackson had a field day against New Orleans in Week 7 but will come back down to earth tonight against Minnesota.

This week’s Aces & Deuces will be delivered fresh to your retinas tomorrow, but I wanted to take a second and pass along some thoughts about tonight’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In particular, I want to focus on Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson.

Coming off a 7-216-1 line in a last second loss to New Orleans, Jackson’s owners surely have visions of more 20-plus point performances dancing in their heads. The 6’5″ playmaker is certainly capable, as he literally towers over the competition and can come down with most balls thrown in his vicinity. But against a much tougher opponent – and on a less-than-generous Thursday night stage – I think owners need to temper their expectations for another barrage from Jackson. Here’s why:

Defensive Disparity. Any defense that can make Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman look like Drew Brees is going to make Jackson look like Jerry Rice. New Orleans’ 30th-ranked pass defense absolutely pales in comparison to a Minnesota unit that yields 219.6 yards and just over one touchdown per game.

Sack Attack. Freeman had all day to scan the field for an open Jackson last week, as the New Orleans “pass rush” more closely resembles a group of senior citizens approaching the nearest early-bird special (walkers optional). Yes, Tampa’s offensive line is beefy, but the Vikings average 3.14 sacks per game. Freeman will be running for his life.

Game Flow. Last week’s shootout meant Tampa Bay was taking to the Florida skies early and often to keep up with the Saints’ high-powered aerial assaults. Minnesota is far more balanced and will likely not take this game to the kind of back-and-forth that affords mass amounts of receiving yardage. Look for more of running back Doug Martin as Tampa tries to wear down the Vikings’ defensive front, with Jackson getting opportunities when the time is right. This will result in fewer targets than last week.

Road Weariers. The road teams in Thursday night games this season are putting up 15.67 points per game and are 1-5 in the win-loss column. The travel, combined with fewer days of rest, seems to put the brakes on offensive output, save the elite units like the New York Giants. “Tampa Bay” and “elite” haven’t been used in the same sentence, though, since the Gruden days.

Outlier Theory. Jackson’s 27.6 point performance against the Saints accounted for 31.1% of his fantasy output so far this season. Throw out last week, and he averages a far more pedestrian 12.2 points per game. As I have said many times this season, the New Orleans defense is the ultimate slump buster.

As a result, if I am a Jackson owner, I am feeling more hesitant than confident heading into tonight’s game. Sure, you have to start him (unless you are in an eight-team league or in a league that starts fewer than three receivers and have a deep bench stash), but don’t expect another Herculean effort that can carry your lineup. Instead, expect the same Jackson we have seen for the past few years now: loads of potential and flashes of brilliance, but ultimately just another over-hyped name leading you to a letdown.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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