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First Down: Recharged Vincent Jackson ready to power up

Brad Evans
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Peruse any league’s transaction log and chances are Vincent Jackson’s(notes) name will pop up frequently. Drafted, dropped, reacquired, dismissed again and stashed one final time, he’s seemingly changed jerseys in virtual formats almost as many times as former Bolt J.T. O’Sullivan(notes) has in real-life.

Jackson’s nomadic existence in fantasy circles is understandable. His extensive holdout, suspension and, more recently, calf setbacks, have labeled the once-dependable commodity cumbersome. The necessity to fill bye week holes combined with owner desire to invest in new sources of production are the primary reasons why he’s become a vagabond.

However, for the person who currently owns the well-traveled receiver it could be a classic case of he who laughs last, laughs best.

Healthy and rounding into game shape, Jackson is on the verge of again seizing the spotlight. Though his final Week 14 fantasy line would be deemed uneventful by most, he occasionally flashed the skills of a receiver who finished with nearly 1,200 yards and nine scores a year ago. Showcasing considerable energy, elusiveness and explosion, he totaled 43 yards on three touches. Another 40-yard haul was wiped out by a questionable chop block by Jacob Hester(notes). The pep in his step was certainly encouraging.

The resurgent wideout could be a key component to owner Super Bowl berths this week.

Unlike most of his dinged teammates, particularly Antonio Gates(notes), Jackson is fresh and healthy. He’s also very hungry. With a full game under his belt, he should recapture the magic of '09 Thursday versus San Francisco.

Outside of his two unimpressive efforts against Indy and Oakland, Philip Rivers(notes) has bombarded opponents with regularity. As Yahoo!‘s own Michael Silver discussed Monday, his consistent execution despite a procession of ragtag receivers has been nothing short of masterful. Throw anyone into the fire and Rivers will maximize his potential. No quarterback has totaled more 20-yard pass plays this season. For the second straight year, he’s also averaged an absurd 8.8 yards per attempt, the highest mark in the league. Having his most dynamic receiver back in the mix, Rivers should unload on a Niners defense that’s surrendered its share of explosive pass plays, 40 to be exact (3.1 per game). It has also allowed a healthy 241 passing yards and 1.5 air strikes per game, equal to the 11th-most fantasy points. Given the Niners’ strength defending the run (3.5 ypc to RBs), Rivers will be pressed to throw early and often.

Entrusting a wideout with greenbacks on the line who has contributed minimally this season may seem like a futile exercise. Many would argue gifting your wife a Michael Myers-inspired anti-aging mask is a better idea (Giving a Peekaru, which is reminiscent of the stomach-emerging scene in Aliens, would be a close second). However, the Pro Bowl target’s remarkable athleticism and size advantage (6-foot-5) over Nate Clements(notes) (6-foot) and Shawntae Spencer(notes) (6-foot-1) give him a significant edge. Keep in mind San Fran has yielded the eighth-most fantasy points to WRs since Week 10.

Yes, Malcom Floyd(notes), who snagged two acrobatic TD catches in Week 14, will continue to play a significant role, but if Gates is indeed permanently unplugged – the tight end admitted Sunday he’s uncertain about finishing the season – No. 83 will garner a large workload, much bigger than the three targets he attracted versus Kansas City.

For those who’ve waited patiently for Jackson, this is the week their diligence will be rewarded.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points


Image courtesy of US Presswire

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