Is Jordy Nelson the Best Wide Receiver in the NFL?

Jordy Nelson has supplanted himself as one of the NFL's elite wide receivers with his production this year.

Jordy Nelson signed a 5-year, $43 million deal that included an $11 million signing bonus. In all honesty, that deal looks more and more like a complete steal for the Packers by the day. Nelson has flat-out been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL this, bar none.

Nelson’s statistics are great - but how efficient is he? How does he stack up against other wide receivers in the NFL in Reception and Target Net Expected Points (NEP)? Is he the best receiver in the league? Let’s examine closer.

Nelson’s Past

The Packers had to re-sign Jordy. He was coming off of his career best season and Rodgers-to-Nelson was becoming one of the best duo’s in all of football. Jordy exploded for 85 receptions, 1,314 yards, and 8 touchdowns in a season where Aaron Rodgers played just 8 full total regular season games.

Even with a mixture of Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, and Matt Flynn starting at quarterback for seven games, Nelson shredded his career best per-game averages. He recorded 5.31 receptions and 82.12 receiving yards per game. The only thing lacking, due in large part to Rodgers’ absence, was touchdowns.

What is scary is that Jordy Nelson is on an even better pace this season.

The Best Wide Receiver in the NFL?

Last year, Nelson received 8.4 targets per game in the 8 full games Rodgers played. This year: 10.2 targets per game. It doesn’t stop there. Not only is Nelson one of the NFL’s most heavily-targeted wide receivers, he’s also the most efficient. Among the 28 receivers that have seen 50 or more targets this season, Nelson has the best Reception NEP in the league. Major understatement here: he’s really good at football.

PlayerTargetsRecYardsTDsRec NEPTarget NEPRec NEP/Target
Nelson7247712663.87 (1st)35.52 (4th)0.88 (2nd)

He's become one of the NFL's best receivers in the red zone, as well.

PlayerTarget MS%TargetsRZ TargetsRZ Target%
Nelson25.9%72 (T-2nd)16 (1st)23.2% (12th)

So, is Jordy Nelson the best receiver in football right now?

For comparison, Demaryius Thomas is on a pretty freak-ish pace as well. He’s averaging 10.5 targets, 6.5 receptions, 110.3 yards, and 1 touchdown per game this year. Jordy? Just a casual: 10.2 targets, 6.7 receptions, 101.7 yards, and 0.86 TDs per game. The similarities do not stop there.

Like Nelson, Thomas also finds himself in the top five of Reception NEP, Target NEP, and Reception NEP per target. Without a healthy 29-year-old Calvin Johnson, Nelson and Thomas have supplanted themselves as the NFL’s elite tier of wide receivers based on raw production and the metrics.

Not only has Jordy Nelson has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, he’s been probably the best wide receiver in fantasy this year, too. Per JJ Zachiarison, Nelson's weekly rankings at wide receiver this year (PPR) are: 20, 1, 47, 2, 24, 6, 14. If you drafted Nelson at his mid-to-late second round ADP this preseason, you may have found the biggest value in your draft(s).

Simply put: you can make the argument that Jordy Nelson is the best wide receiver in the NFL and in fantasy football.