During the 2011 season, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was dominant. He racked up over 1,200 yards receiving to go along with an incredible 15 touchdowns in a breakout campaign that really put him on the map as a top-notch receiver in the NFL.
It also opened the eyes of fantasy football owners as the once under appreciated Nelson, suddenly became a vital part of many fantasy teams, finishing fourth among wide receivers in fantasy points in point-per-reception formats.
The former Kansas State product averaged an incredible 13.2 yards per target during that 2011 season and averaged more than 17.8 fantasy points per game. He was incredibly productive and efficient, posting 2.96 fantasy points per target – by far the best at his position.
All of this set the stage for a big season in 2012. Many fantasy analysts said Nelson was nothing but a fluke and cautioned owners against drafting him too early. In some ways they were correct: It was going to be almost impossible for Nelson to replicate his 2011 numbers. However, he had shown a strong enough pattern of performance that expecting him to be a very good WR2 was completely realistic.
True to form, Nelson was very effective last season after a bit of a slow start. Due to injuries Nelson suited up in only 13 games and was targeted just 73 times. Yet, he turned those targets into 49 receptions for 745 yards and seven touchdowns. That equates to a 165 fantasy points and a very solid 2.25 fantasy points per target.
Nelson also continued to perform strongly in the important statistic of yards per target. In 2011, he led the league in that category. In 2012, he finished with 10.2 yards per target, trailing only Seattle’s Golden Tate (10.3) and San Diego’s Danario Alexander (10.6) among qualifying players that received over 50 targets.
Nelson also still produced seven touchdowns with just 73 targets, which is essentially one touchdown reception for every ten targets, down from a touchdown every 6.4 targets like he had in 2011 but the idea that he could re-produce his 2011 numbers was unrealistic because they were just so unlikely to be duplicated.
However, that doesn’t mean Nelson wasn’t a productive fantasy performer in 2012 cause when he was on the field he certainly was, the main factor that made his season a disappointment were the injuries that plagued him during the second half of the season.
Therefore, with a clean slate of health entering the 2013 season, fantasy owners need to make an investment in Nelson this season. Even with the emergence of Randall Cobb, Nelson is due for a bigger role in 2013 due the departure of Greg Jennings. Cobb will operate from the slot, leaving Nelson as the top receiver on the outside, where he is certain to take advantage of Aaron Rodgers elite ability to stretch the field.
Currently, Nelson’s average draft position is around the end of the fourth round and generally among the top 15 wide outs selected in PPR leagues. It might seem like a high price to pay for Nelson but as long as he remains healthy, he will be extremely productive with his targets and has a great chance to score double-digit touchdowns, so don’t sleep on him this season, take him as your WR2 and watch as he produces like an WR1.
All fantasy stats are courtesy of four-downs.com