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Jordy Nelson: Fantasy Football Stud Turned Injury Sleeper
Image via CheeseHeadTV
Image via CheeseHeadTV

Why is everyone hating on Jordy Nelson?

OK, maybe hate is a strong term, but considering that he was a top 3 WR in 2011, it seems strange that his current ADP sits at WR14.  Come to think of it, Jordy Nelson was an elite WR for the first portion of 2012 too before injuries slowed him down in week 8 and beyond.  You might be thinking “Jordy Nelson?  Elite?  Get outta here!”  But, before you dismiss the possibility, you should check this…

During the 23 game stretch that ran from Week 1 of 2011 through Week 7 of 2012, Jordy Nelson was arguably the 2nd best receiver in football behind Calvin Johnson.

Player Rec/gm Yards/gm TD/gm Fantasy Points
Calvin Johnson 6.0 101 0.74 17.5
Jordy Nelson 4.7 78 0.87 15.4
AJ Green 5.1 79 0.65 14.3
Julio Jones 4.7 77 0.68 14.1
Brandon Marshall 5.7 82 0.43 13.7
Larry Fitzgerald 5.2 81 0.48 13.6
Dez Bryant 4.7 64 0.50 11.8

*Scoring based on .5PPR, 10yds/pt, 6pts/TD

**Demaryius Thomas missed too many games in 2011 to be included

Against the most highly drafted receivers of the 2013 fantasy season, Jordy Nelson was the 2nd best during a 23 game stretch.  That’s no flash in the pan, that is Grade A, premium wide receiver production.  And, not only that, but he was consistent too.

Player % 1TD gm % 75yd gm
Calvin Johnson 52% 70%
Jordy Nelson 57% 61%
Brandon Marshall 43% 57%
Julio Jones 47% 53%
Larry Fitzgerald 43% 48%
AJ Green 60% 47%
Dez Bryant 41% 36%

Jordy ranked the #2 most consistent TD scorer and #2 most consistent 75yd game producer.  And, remember, he is being drafted at WR 14.

But what about Randall Cobb and James Jones?

If all goes according to plan, the Packers offense will feature Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb as their top three receivers.  Disappointingly, in 2012, these guys only had six games where they all played at least 50% of the offensive snaps.  (Games 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, 18)  Here’s how the distribution worked out:

Player Snaps Targets Target %
Randall Cobb 253 44 17%
Jordy Nelson 342 44 13%
James Jones 364 36 10%

Okay, so maybe Randall Cobb is the preferred option when this trio appears together, but it’s reassuring to see Nelson maintain priority over the emergent Jones.  And really, when you think about it, Cobb and Nelson are used in very different ways, with Cobb working underneath and Nelson going deep.

Speaking of which, do you suppose it’s possible that an improved running attack might make Jordy Nelson more effective?  According to Mike Spofford of

Nelson is the Packers’ best deep receiver and the one who, I believe, could benefit the most if the ground game improves as planned. The Packers lost some of their big-play explosiveness on offense last year and need to get it back. Nelson’s yards per catch went from 18.6 in 2011 to 15.2 in 2012. If the run pulls defenses out of cover-two and brings a safety closer to the line of scrimmage, Nelson should get more one-on-one matchups outside.

During Nelson’s 23 game tear when he was the #2 WR in the NFL, he had a shadow of a running game to occupy safeties and create one-on-one matchups.  If he is merely healthy again in 2013, I think he can produce another Top 3 fantasy season.  If the Packers running game can improve on their two-year average of 3.9 ypc, Nelson could be even more lethal.  More lethal than a Top 3 WR in the game?  Dare I say he could be THE #1 overall receiver?  Who knows.  But the fact that we’re even having this conversation makes him an incredible value at his current ADP of WR14.

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