August 30, 2009
Locked in an intense battle with incumbent Donald Lee(notes) for No. 1 tight end rights, the towering 6-foot-5 skyscraper has rapidly developed into a deadly red zone weapon. In three exhibition contests, Finley has snagged nine passes for 92 yards and two scores (see the scoring grabs here), numbers outdistancing what he accumulated in 14 games a season ago.
Though a very gifted athlete blessed with superb body control and excellent speed, Finley played sparingly as a rookie largely due to an egomaniacal attitude. Foolishly choosing to pull no punches, he even publicly criticized Aaron Rodgers(notes) for his poor performance against the Tennessee Titans Week 9, declaring the rising star "didn't throw it good at all." In the same interview, he also lambasted Packers coaches for underutilizing his talents. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Read the entire account and the prideful TE makes Chad Ochocinco(notes) seem Wilbur-from-Charlotte's-Web humble.
But despite his boastful personality and abuse of LOL on his Twitter account, the emerging weapon could be one of the hottest waiver wire additions Week 1, if not before. Less pretentious and exhibiting more polish in his second season, his on-the-field accomplishments have instilled confidence in Rodgers and Mike McCarthy, who feels he's is on the precipice of stardom:
"He's definitely a weapon for us. We felt that last year, just the way we were able to utilize Jermichael the last couple of games of the season, and now he's able to do the full gamut. He's another young player that looks like he's ready to take off."
As we discussed previously, tight end is a position overflowing with dependability. Finley and his 200-plus ADP is another example why it's imperative to exercise patience when filling the position this drafting season.
Assuming the Texas product prevails over Lee and keeps his verbal epithets contained, he has favorable odds of becoming a borderline TE1 in 12-team and deeper leagues. In Green Bay's spread system, Rodgers isn't afraid to line up tight ends in the crosshairs, especially near the goal-line. Last year, Lee attracted 14.1 percent of the team's total looks inside the 20, roughly the same percentage as Chris Cooley(notes).
Based on Finley's remarkably high ceiling and expected expanded role in a pass-heavy attack, the cocksure target could be one of fantasy's biggest surprise sensations in '09.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 59 receptions, 572 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Image courtesy of US Presswire