Are People Undervaluing Jordy Nelson in Fantasy Football?
It seems incredulous that last year's third-highest PPR fantasy scoring wide receiver is being undervalued, but according to recent ADP from FantasyFootballCalculator.com drafters have been neglecting Green Bay's Jordy Nelson, allowing him to fall to being the seventh wide receiver drafted.
Is this action justified or is Nelson being undervalued by the fantasy community?
For a player coming off a 98-catch, 1,519-yard, 13-touchdown season with the league's best quarterback -- yes, numberFire's highest projected quarterback is Aaron Rodgers -- it seems a little puzzling.
6' 3" double-digit touchdown receivers don't just grow on trees, so let's check out what the numbers say in regards to Nelson's 2014 season and if it could be a blueprint for what to expect in 2015.
Consistency and Big Value Plays
I think one of the greatest things about Jordy Nelson from a fantasy perspective is the variety of ways in which he can provide considerable fantasy value.
Nelson's 13 touchdowns trailed only Dez Bryant's 16 last year, but Nelson's touchdowns were pretty remarkable in the manner in which he scored. While Dez scored half of his touchdowns from the red zone, Nelson was a much more big-play threat as only 5 of his 13 came in this area of the field.
Jordy also scored another five of his touchdowns from at least 50 yards out, a remarkable feat as he led the league in this category. Scoring such a large percentage of his touchdowns from this distance sounds great, but is this feat repeatable?
History would lead us to believe no, but Rodgers has proven he's more than capable of writing his own chapter in history books. Rodgers led all quarterbacks last year with passing touchdowns that went for 50 or more yards. His 7 touchdowns of 50-plus yards more than doubled every other quarterback except Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Stafford who each had 4 such touchdowns.
Repeatable? Possible, and if there's anyone that should be able to do it again, it's Nelson. Since 2000, there have only been four occurrences of wide receivers gaining 5 touchdowns that were 50 or more yards in a season: DeSean Jackson in 2009, Victor Cruz in 2011, Jordy Nelson in 2011, and Nelson again in 2014. After already doing it twice, maybe it's not so far-fetched after all.
Looking at the other end of the field in the opponent's red zone, Nelson was also one of the most heavily targeted wide receivers in this area last year. Trailing only Demaryius Thomas (39) and Antonio Brown (34), Nelson's 28 red zone looks were the third most in the league. Considering Rodgers is hands down the best red zone passer in the league -- his 150 career passing touchdowns versus only 5 interceptions remains one of the NFL's most mind boggling stats -- it's safe to say Nelson's 2015 outlook is in good hands.
One thing worth noting on Nelson's red zone outlook was teammate Randall Cobb's success in this area last season. Cobb scored a career-high 10 touchdowns in the red zone last year, and all of his scores came from inside the 20-yard line. While the two have been able to coexist with such an efficient passer under center, it's worth pointing out that Nelson's 6' 3" frame doesn't necessarily lead to more targets than his 5' 10" counterpart who had 27 targets of his own.
Something that I highly value in all fantasy players -- especially those at the top of the draft -- are players that are able to perform on a consistent level week-to-week.
Jordy spent 11 weeks providing top-24 (WR2) value, third-most in the league behind only Antonio Brown (14) and Demaryius Thomas (13). Week in and week out, Jordy provided fantasy owners a safe floor yet was still able to provide a nice ceiling. He tied for the seventh-most top-12 (WR1) weeks, having six such weeks. Brown had a league-leading 10 weeks providing that output with Thomas ranked second with eight WR1 weeks.
Not all leagues provide 100-yard bonuses, but for those that do, Nelson gets a bump. Nelson had seven different 100-yard receiving games, trailing only Demaryius Thomas (10) and Antonio Brown (8). Nelson and Rodgers had some great chemistry last year, as Nelson provided his quarterback a big play magnet with a penchant for making acrobatic sideline grabs. Noticing a trend among this top trio of receivers?
Taking a numberFire look at Nelson, the results came in very favorably. Nelson ranked fourth in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) and third in Target NEP out of all wide receivers last year.
Net Expected Points -- or NEP -- is numberFire's signature metric quantifying a player's production versus what is expected of them on a given play. You can learn more about NEP in our glossary.
Nelson was a metric stud, even from an efficiency standpoint and earned a Success Rate of 91.84%. That means that 91.84% of his receptions contributed successfully to adding to his Reception NEP score. He ended up ranking 16th out of the 96 wide receivers who had at least 30 receptions in Success Rate.
From a raw statistical, fantasy, and advanced metric viewpoint, Nelson was one of the top receivers in the league last year.
So where's the beef?
Sizing up the Competition
Sure, maybe Nelson took advantage of an injury-plagued season by some of the top wide receivers, but he still remains a top consistent weapon for any fantasy squad capable of both consistency and greatness.
How did he stack up against the rest of the top receivers last year?
|Rec||Rec Yards||Rec TDs||Rec NEP||Targets||Target NEP||FP/G||Current ADP|
Looking at the top-12 wide receivers from a fantasy points per game perspective, rookie phenom Odell Beckham Jr. led the group despite playing in just 12 games. Another thing of note when looking at these totals and rankings, A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson both played in only 13 games, while Calvin played in a shell of his top-playing self as a decoy in an additional two.
Jordy Nelson was an uber efficient receiver who kept up with the league's best in every category. Even more impressive, he was able to do these things with another formidable receiver across from him in Cobb who held his own in Green Bay's ridiculous passing offense that had two of the top-12 scoring receivers along with Denver.
Top-three in receiving yards, touchdowns, and Target NEP, Jordy was a very efficient receiver in all aspects of his game, providing fantasy owners a variety of ways to gain fantasy points. His current ADP as the seventh wide receiver off the board is nothing more than a golden opportunity for fantasy owners to find terrific value on one of the league's best wide receivers.
After listing several differing statistical standouts earlier, seeing Jordy Nelson trail Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas in several of them seems rather fitting.
Our projections at numberFire have Nelson finishing this year as the third highest scoring wide receiver with 98 receptions for 1,445 yards and 12 touchdowns. Brown and Thomas are our top two receivers, but with Nelson you're getting a player who has now dropped to the middle of the second round but who has a very likely probability of finishing as one of the top receivers again.
Grabbing a player of Nelson's caliber is a no-brainer value move and one that could potentially win leagues as he continues to be undervalued compared to his contemporaries.
Be sure to check out our draft kit to see how the rest of the top receivers rank and prepare yourself for the upcoming draft season.