Forget Aaron Rodgers, It’s Jordy Nelson Time

Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers reunite this weekend. Hooray!

Clyde Phillips served as the executive producer and showrunner on Dexter for the first four seasons of the series before moving on. If any of you are fans of the show, you know that the first four seasons are, without a doubt, the show's best of its eight seasons.

Once Phillips moved on, things went downhill. Dexter was more invincible than ever, the villains were more ridiculous than ever, and, the shows’ ending – well, let’s just say that (sort of spoiler alert!) becoming a lumberjack was never part of the way I envisioned the finish of eight long seasons of Dexter.

That’s what can happen when you replace someone or something with someone or something less valuable or impressive. You know what I’m talking about, Packers’ fans.

Before Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury, you could make the comparison that the Green Bay offense was similar to the first four seasons of Dexter: It was solid, fun to watch and usually exceeded expectations when compared to something that was average. Without Rodgers, however, the team has been more like seasons 5 through 8, filled with disappointment and lumberjack endings.

Clyde Phillips is to Dexter like Aaron Rodgers is to the Green Bay Packers.

And as a result, other pieces – like the overly forgiving, always unpredictable Deb – suffer. For Green Bay, perhaps no player has suffered from Aaron Rodgers’ injury more than wide receiver Jordy Nelson (Yes, I just compared Jordy Nelson to Debra Morgan).

Jordy With Aaron

After battling injuries in 2012, fantasy owners were excited about a healthy Jordy Nelson in 2013. After all, the 2011 season brought him the best non-Calvin Johnson fantasy campaign from any wide receiver, as he caught 68 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns.

And at the start of the season, Jordy hopefuls were seeing the benefit of drafting him in the fourth round of their fantasy drafts. Take a look at his numbers through the first seven games of the season with Rodgers seeing the majority of snaps (barely played in the game where he broke his collarbone):

7 Games396497

His 39 catches for 649 yards and seven scores were nice – fantastic – and they get even better when analyzed from a Net Expected Points perspective.

Among all wide receivers through seven weeks, Nelson ranked second in the league in Reception Net Expected Points (64.65) and first in Target Net Expected Points (50.47). In other words, with every catch, Nelson was adding more points for the Packers than all but one NFL wideout (Calvin Johnson), and on all targets, he was contributing more points for his team than any other pass-catcher in the league.

Jordy was pacing towards another top wide receiver season in fantasy (and real) football. But that all changed when Aaron Rodgers turned into the most valuable man in sweatpants.

Jordy With Seneca, Scott and Matt

Nelson’s now played eight games with the quarterback carousel of Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn. And, by no surprise, his numbers aren’t even close to as good as they were with Aaron Rodgers.

8 Games365041

In one additional game, Nelson has fewer receptions, over 150 less yards and six fewer touchdowns. As a result, his Reception NEP per game has gone from 9.23 to 4.63, and his Target NEP from 6.31 to 0.48.

Jordy’s been playing at a rate that would give him a 74.08 score in Reception NEP over the course of the season, and a Target NEP total of 7.74. That type of production on receptions only is similar to what we’re seeing from Rod Streater this year, and the Target NEP total is like that of Keshawn Martin, although with more targets.

The impact has been felt in fantasy football, too. With Rodgers under center, Nelson had six top-24 weekly wide receiver finishes in seven games of playing (85.7%). Without Number 12, Nelson has just two top-24 wide receiver finishes in eight games (25%).

In essence, the quarterback rotation has made Jordy Nelson a very average receiver. And because they – the quarterbacks – are playing at such a low level, his Expected Points total on all targets has suffered, as this takes incompletions and interceptions into consideration.

What’s even worse is the fact that the team has faced easier opponents post-Rodgers injury. Take a look at their schedule with and without Rodgers, and the Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points ranking of their opponents:

OpponentQuarterbackOpponent Adj. DPNEP Rank
BearsNot Rodgers12
EaglesNot Rodgers24
GiantsNot Rodgers9
VikingsNot Rodgers32
LionsNot Rodgers25
FalconsNot Rodgers31
CowboysNot Rodgers17
SteelersNot Rodgers15

On average, Aaron Rodgers was facing a defense that ranked 17th against the pass when adjusted for strength of schedule. The trio (mostly Flynn) of quarterbacks that have played since Rodgers’ injury have faced an average pass defense rank of 21.

Yet, the offense – most notably Jordy Nelson – has struggled mightily.

Nelson in Week 17

If you’re still playing fantasy football this week, whether it be on daily fantasy sites or in your regular leagues, Nelson has to be an attractive play. He’s almost a lock to give you WR2 numbers with Rodgers under center, and even if Rodgers shows a little bit of rust, Nelson should be able to outperform what he’s done with other weapons.

It’s a shame that Clyde Phillips quit on Dexter, because it left the show’s viewers wanting – needing – more. And it’s equally as bad that Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone this year; fantasy owners could have really used a top-tier Jordy Nelson.