First of all let me say that I think ranking are not useful. But for some reason, people love to see a “top-10” list, or a “top-125 list.” The better practice is to have tiers and then work within those levels.
In previous seasons, Calvin Johnson was in his own tier—no question. This season, Megatron is sharing that tier with a few other wide receivers.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is one of those wide receivers.
I know seeing Nelson’s name in the top-tier may throw you off, but give me a chance.
What most people remember about Nelson’s 2013 performance was his meager 46 receptions for 504 yards and a single touchdown from Weeks 8-15. That kind of performance warrants Nelson to be in the second or third tier.
When it comes to fantasy football, most managers have a week-to-week tolerance of a player’s performance. If a player doesn’t perform as expected for multiple weeks, he’s a bust and his name is forever scorned. I get that.
But Nelson gets a pass. Catch that? Or that?
Aaron Rodgers injured his shoulder in Week 8 and didn’t return until Week 16. During that span, Nelson went from averaging a touchdown per game to only getting one touchdown over the next eight Rodgers-less weeks.
Nelson averaged 16.6 yards per catch with Rodgers and only 10.9 yards per catch with Matt Flynn.
Of the 15 touchdowns Rodgers threw in the first seven weeks of the season, Nelson caught approximately half of them (7).
To put Nelson’s performance over the first seven weeks of the 2013 season in perspective, here’s a list of the top-4 wide receivers finishers from 2013 after their first seven games:
Calvin Johnson = 47 rec., 821 yards, 7 TDs (329 yards vs. Cowboys)
(Jordy Nelson = 39 rec., 649 yards, 7 TDs)
Antonio Brown = 56 rec., 630 yards, 2 TDs
Demaryius Thomas = 41 rec., 610 yards, 5 TDs
A.J. Green = 43 rec., 619 yards, 5 TDs
Prior to Rodgers’ departure, Nelson was on pace to finish the year with 98 receptions, 1,620 yards and 14 touchdowns. And had he done so, Nelson’s name would’ve been much closer to the No. 1 spot on more and more rankings.
Other Top-Tier Wideouts & Their Issues
Calvin Johnson lost Scott Linehan (a passing fiend) and Brandon Marshall will be competing with Alshon Jeffery for targets (and don’t forget, Jeffery hauled in more yards than Marshall in 2013).
Dez Bryant is the closest competitor to Nelson in the top-tier and has a nice setup this year in Dallas. But I still would rather have Nelson with Rodgers throwing to him than Bryant with Romo tossing the rock.
I’m also not picking up what everyone is putting down on Demaryius Thomas. I understand that someone has to make up for the departure of Eric Decker, but the Broncos brought in a capable option in Emmanuel Sanders, along with Manning being a savant at spreading the ball around. There might be a slight uptick in Thomas’ stats, but not by much.
When it comes to top-tier wideouts this season, it’s time to include Nelson in that group. With a healthy Rodgers, he’s likely to finish in the top-3 for fantasy football purposes. And you can get him at a steep discount with his early third round ADP.