Jordy Nelson needs to get some respect in fantasy football. It’s true that his insane 15-touchdown season back in 2011 was hard to take in. It was a joyous run for fantasy owners, but no one thought for a second Nelson was the second coming of Calvin Johnson or could do that in back to back seasons. Still, he put up over 700 receiving yards and seven scores the following season, despite missing four games and dealing with an ankle injury in at least two others.
In 2013 he stormed back at full health and put up career numbers in receptions (85) and receiving yardage (over 1,300 yards) despite having to play the majority of eight contests without Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers under center, Nelson put up 49 receptions, 810 receiving yards and seven scores. Stretch that out to a full 16-game season of the two working magic together, and it’s entirely possible Nelson could have put up an extrapolated stat line close to 98 catches, over 1,600 yards and 14 scores.
If that seems illogical, perhaps you should also factor in injuries to Randall Cobb (missed 10 games), Jermichael Finley (missed 10 games) and James Jones (missed two games and was banged up for several others).
Enter the 2014 fantasy football season, and Nelson seems to be regularly targeted as a potential top-10 fantasy threat. As he should be. Jones and Finley are gone and Nelson’s role is as cemented as ever.
Entrenched as Green Bay’s top option in the passing game, Nelson is already in talks with the Packers in regards to a long-term contract and is freshly 29 years old. That puts Nelson firmly in his prime and set to put up mammoth numbers yet again.
The difference? There are two less talented bodies to compete with in the passing game and Rodgers returns at full strength.
The Packers drafted three talented wide receivers in this year’s draft, but Green Bay insiders (per the link) suggest it’s more about securing solid depth, rather than thinking about replacing Nelson. The Packers know they have a stud here, and they plan on locking him up and keeping him in a big role for the next few years. Once Nelson starts approaching 33 or 34, then we might start to be concerned a bit (of if his play suddenly drops off).
For 2014, at the very least, Nelson remains a legit top-10 fantasy wide receiver and could very easily contend for a spot inside the top-five. After all, if you use his pro-rated numbers from 2013, Nelson would have easily been fantasy’s #1 ranked wide receiver. Again, you can look at that pace from either perspective, but the end result was a pace set up for 244 total fantasy points. Cleveland Browns stud receiver Josh Gordon blew up on everyone with 227 fantasy points as fantasy’s top-ranked receiver a year ago, yet Nelson could have projected to soar way past him, among other big names.
None of that means Nelson is going to automatically be the top overall fantasy receiver in 2014, but Jordy Nelson’s stats don’t lie. He’s an extremely productive receiver with a huge role in a very potent offense. His versatile skill-set also gives him the ability to be an elite possession receiver (great hands and crips routes), as well as guy that can make plays after the catch and bring down jump balls (underrated speed, good ball skills and above average leaping ability).
Nelson doesn’t have the name power that some of fantasy’s top options do. You still won’t take him over Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and probably not even over Julio Jones and Brandon Marshall. But the value is certainly there, and if you did take Nelson over some of those guys, you wouldn’t exactly be crazy.
So, to answer the title question – is Jordy Nelson an elite WR1 in fantasy football? Absolutely. You just don’t have to draft him as high as you probably should.
*Photo Credit – Brian Giesen via Flickr.