Fantasy Outlook: Jordy Nelson
Editor’s Note: This article was written before Nelson’s injury on Sunday. Initial reports fear that Nelson tore his ACL.
In 2014, Jordy Nelson finished second overall in fantasy for the second time in his career. Despite his success last season, Nelson’s current average draft position is 17th overall. He is the seventh wide receiver off the board in standard scoring leagues behind Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Calvin Johnson. I respect what Antonio Brown did last season, and I think there is a good chance his numbers will be similar this year. However, one could argue that the other receivers are being overvalued and that Jordy Nelson should be going higher than his current ADP.
At 6’3, 217 lbs., Nelson has ideal size and decent speed for an outside wide receiver. However, some of his best traits include his sure hands and his ability to get separation at the line of scrimmage. Another advantage that Nelson has over the other receivers is Aaron Rodgers. The past few seasons, the duo of Rodgers and Nelson has been formidable. I know you think that Demaryius Thomas has Peyton Manning, but Manning is 39 years old and in the twilight of his career.
As previously mentioned, 2014 was the second time in Nelson’s career that he finished second overall in fantasy football. In his other highly successful season (2011), Nelson set career highs in touchdowns (15), receptions (68) and receiving yards (1,263). However, he set new career highs in receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,519) in 2014. Nelson finished the 2011 season with 216.3 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues, another career high, which he exceeded in 2014 with 229.9 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. While six games were lost in 2012 due to recurring hamstring issues, Nelson bounced back in 2013 when he compiled 85 receptions for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns. Nelson’s 2013 fantasy performance (179.4 points) was good for a finish at WR11 and 44th overall.
There are many reasons to like Nelson more than some of the other top-ranked wide receivers whose ADP is higher in 2015. Last season, Nelson was sixth in receptions, fourth in receiving yards, and tied for second in receiving touchdowns. Only Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones finished ahead of Nelson in targets, receptions and receiving yards in 2014.
With the two-game suspension of Le’Veon Bell and the lack of suitable replacement, Pittsburgh will likely become a one-dimensional, pass first offense. That means double coverage for Antonio Brown for at least the first two games of 2015. However, Brown will get opportunities to be a playmaker because he is one of the most dynamic receivers in the game. As previously mentioned, Thomas is catching passes from a 39-year-old Manning, and he will be a part of an offense that is expected to be run-heavy under new head coach Gary Kubiak. With a new regime in Atlanta, Jones’ role is largely unknown, though the X-receiver has had plenty of success in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense. While I do not expect Nelson to surpass the production of Brown, Thomas or Jones in 2015, each comes with their concerns, which leaves the door open for a top-three finish for Nelson.
In 2014, only Dez Bryant scored more touchdowns (16) than Nelson. But Bryant (whose offense used the run to set up the pass), Beckham (who will likely lose some targets due to the return of Victor Cruz) and Calvin Johnson (who has recently been plagued by injuries) are all being selected ahead of Nelson. Based on his production in the past few seasons, I see Nelson finishing in the top four among wide receivers, ahead of Bryant, Beckham and Johnson.
If he can remain healthy, Nelson’s track record of improvement from season to season could mean big things in 2015. At his current ADP of 20th overall in standard scoring leagues and 17th in PPR leagues, Nelson is an absolute steal as the seventh wide receiver off the board. In fact, Nelson is ranked too low and should be going sooner. However, if Nelson remains at his current ADP and falls to you in the late second ot early third round, you should take a long look at drafting him.