Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson went down in the heap during the 1st quarter of the team’s 2nd preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and initial reports indicate that he will miss the entire 2015 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The Packers leading wide receiver, Nelson is coming off a career year in 2014 during which he caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. Over the past four years, Nelson has appeared in 60 games, catching 300 passes for 4,841 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Nelson’s loss is a huge blow to the Packers offense as he is quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target as well as the team’s top deep threat and main option in the red zone.
If Nelson is lost for the year, Randall Cobb becomes the team’s main receiving threat at wide receiver with 2nd year player Davante Adams assuming Nelson’s position in the starting line-up. Jeff Janis and rookie Ty Mongtomery will battle for the 3rd receiver role with both players figuring seeing increased roles in the team’s offense.
Fantasy Football Impact
Whether or not you agree if Nelson should be rated amongst the elite wide receivers in the league, there is no arguing that he produces like one. There is little doubt that his absence from the Packers offense negatively impacts Rodgers in a significant manner since he loses both his top deep threat as well as the favorite red zone target.
With Nelson out of the line-up, Rodgers drops behind Andrew Luck to become our 2nd rated fantasy quarterback in 2015. While we still view him as being in the same tier as Luck, he is now positioned as a mid-tier 3rd round pick as opposed to his current ADP of 2.07 and Luck’s of 2.05.
At wide receiver, Randall Cobb becomes the Packers de facto number one wide receiver but the question is how high can you move up a 5’10”, 192 pound receiver in the fantasy rankings who mainly plays out of the slot when he is already ranked as a lower tier WR1?
While we would expect an uptick in Cobb’s targets which should result in a few more yards and maybe a touchdown or two, he isn’t going to be the main benefactor from Nelson’s injury. Cobb moves up from being a Tier 3 wide receiver to the 2nd tier where he is joined by the likes of Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green.
Receiving the biggest fantasy boost from Nelson’s injury is 2nd year player Davante Adams. The 2014 2nd round pick enjoyed a solid, albeit inconsistent, rookie season where his production fluctuated based on his role in the team’s game plan. There won’t be much doubt about his involvement in 2015.
Adams moves from being a low volume option to lower tier WR2 status as a player who should approach 1,000 receiving yards with 6-8 touchdowns. With glowing offseason and training camp reports about his progress, Adam now seems primed for a breakout campaign in 2015.
Moving into the 3rd wide receiver role will be either rookie 3rd round pick Ty Montgomery or 2014 7th round pick Jeff Janis. Both players are considered raw prospects at this point with Janis possessing similar physical characteristics to Nelson and Montgomery capable of working outside or in the slot at 6’0” and 221 pounds.
Since moving Adams into Nelson’s role, leaving Cobb’s role mainly untouched and sliding Janis into Adam’s role as the 3rd receiver while also utilizing him as a deep threat causes the least amount of disruption to the Packers offense, we expect that Janis will see more targets than Montgomery in 2015.
Whoever wins the 3rd wide receiver role becomes worthy of a late round pick.
Tight end Richard Rodgers, entering his 2nd year in the league as a 3rd round pick out of California, sees his fantasy value increase as a potential breakout candidate at tight end. While his previous upside seemed to be 400 yards and 4-5 touchdowns, he has the potential to become the team’s top threat in the red zone. He moves from being a mid-tier TE3 to a mid to upper tier TE2 with the potential for 600 yards and 6-8 touchdowns.