Fantasy Football Profile: Time To Sell Jordy Nelson

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Jun 22, 2017

Jordy Nelson has already started to show signs that he won’t be the same player going forward.

Have we hit the point in Jordy Nelson’s career where he’s going to start drifting away from the top fantasy wide receivers? Granted, he finished as the No. 2 wide receiver last year, despite being just one year removed from a torn ACL. But things come at you fast in the NFL, and for Nelson, the clock is ticking.

After scrolling through recent ADP in dynasty formats, I was taken aback when Nelson sat there as the No. 19 receiver in start-up drafts. He’s being taken in front of guys like Doug Baldwin, Stefon Diggs, and Donte Moncrief. If you’re drafting based on career numbers, sure, Nelson is your guy. But he just turned 32 and has already shown signs of slowing down, regardless of his 2016 finish. In fact, I’d argue that you might get one more top-12 season out of him, though it’s far from a lock.

Need more advice? Get access to our Draft Kit and Draft Wizard tools >>

Slowing Down After Injury

Coming into 2016, Nelson hadn’t totaled less than 15.2 yards per reception since way back in 2010, which was before he became a full-time player for the Packers. In fact, his numbers had been extremely consistent from 2012-2014, as his yards per reception ranged from 15.2-15.5 in each of those years. Methodical, right? Coming back from his torn ACL, Nelson averaged just 13.0 yards per reception in 2016. Some may attribute that to early season struggles returning from his injury, which would make sense, so I looked at that. Over the first eight weeks of the season, Nelson averaged 13.4 yards per reception, but it only went down as the season went on, to just 12.8 yards per reception after that. His 8.3 yards per target was easily the lowest of his career, and almost two full yards short on the numbers he hit from 2012-2014.

You’re probably wondering why this matters if Nelson finished as the No. 2 fantasy receiver, because I would’ve wondered the same thing. Well, because it’s not common for a receiver to average less than 13.0 yards per reception and finish among the top 12 receivers in fantasy. In fact, over the last four years, there have been just five instances (out of 48 possible receivers) where that’s happened. Antonio Brown (154 targets), Michael Thomas (121 targets), Doug Baldwin (125 targets), Larry Fitzgerald (145 targets), and Eric Decker (132 targets). Sure, Nelson saw 152 targets in 2016, but they will look like a different team in 2017.

Strong Competition for Targets

Starting with the addition of Martellus Bennett to a tight end unit that saw just 103 targets last year. You don’t pay someone like Bennett to come in and see the same amount of targets that you threw to Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers. Next, we have a healthy Randall Cobb, who saw just 84 targets in 2016 after seeing 256 targets the previous two seasons. There’s been chatter about him this off-season, saying they need to get him re-involved in the offense. Then you have Davante Adams, who showed flashes of the player they thought they were getting when they drafted him in 2014. And lastly, it appears that converted-wide receiver Ty Montgomery will be the starting running back, and he saw 56 targets last year while playing a limited role.

We haven’t even mentioned that Aaron Rodgers threw the ball 610 times, which was almost 40 more attempts than any other season in his career. It’s clear that this was a product of poor defense and weak ground game, leading the Packers to go out and draft two running backs (Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones – favorites of the draft community). Looking at the Packers pass to run ratio in the red-zone last year, you should also expect some regression, as they threw the ball 114 times inside the 20-yard-line, while running it just 42 times. Think about that for a minute. Nelson scored 14 times and led the league in that category, but expecting more of the same with less targets in 2017 likely isn’t in the cards.

2017 & Beyond Outlook

If you were to go into my article on wide receivers and how their age matters (read it here), you’d see that Nelson is about to enter the dark ages. There have been just two of 71 wide receivers over the last 10 years who’ve finished inside the top-five at age-32 or older. I’m not going to say that you shouldn’t draft Nelson in redraft leagues, because it’s hard to pass on a guy who you know will have 100-yard, two-touchdown games from time-to-time. But you should know that by drafting him there, he won’t have the ceiling he once did.

As far as dynasty players are concerned, Nelson is an easy sell. If you can get any player mentioned above (Baldwin, Diggs, Moncrief) for him straight up, do it. In fact, I’d rather have his teammate Adams on my dynasty roster in hopes that he was just scratching the surface in 2016.

If you’ve missed any of the other Player Profiles that have gone up, you can see the full list right here.

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Google Play | TuneIn | RSS

Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE FantasyPros upgrade with first deposit
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
2Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4David Johnson (ARI)RB
5Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
9Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
10Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Julio Jones (ATL)WR
12Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
13Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
14Michael Thomas (NO)WR
15Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
16A.J. Green (CIN)WR
17Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
18Davante Adams (GB)WR
19Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21LeSean McCoy (BUF)RB
22Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
23Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
24Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
25Jerick McKinnon (SF)RB
26Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
27Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
28Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
29Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
30Travis Kelce (KC)TE
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF
2Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
5Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
6Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
7Manny Machado (BAL)3B
8Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
9Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
10Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
 View All Rankings 
11Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
12Chris Sale (BOS)SP
13J.D. Martinez (BOS)RF
14Trea Turner (WSH)SS
15Carlos Correa (HOU)SS
16Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
17Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
18Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
19Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
20Joey Votto (CIN)1B
21Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
22Aaron Judge (NYY)RF
23Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
24George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
25Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
26Luis Severino (NYY)SP
27Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
28Andrew Benintendi (BOS)LF,CF
29Jose Abreu (CWS)1B
30Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,LF
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (NOR)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Gordon Hayward (BOS)SG,SF