Packers WR James Jones believes that he, along with Green Bay teammates Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, will meet a collective goal no other receiving trio has ever accomplished in the franchise’s storied history.
Of course he does. It is the deadest part of the NFL season, nestled between OTAs and mini-camps, and a time for optimism from everyone—no matter how seemingly far-fetched. This time last year, former Dolphins and current Lions RB Reggie Bush wanted you to believe he would lead the league in rushing for the 2012 season. We all saw how that ended up.
Bush missed the mark set by Adrian Peterson in 2012 by a razor-thin margin of 1,111 yards.
Admittedly, viewing the Aaron Rodgers-led, high-octane Green Bay offense more optimistically than the 2012 Miami Dolphins shouldn’t be considered any kind of stretch, and reason for optimism about the receiving corps—and its fantasy relevance—is certainly worth exploring with seriousness and an eye toward value.
Greg Jennings has taken his talents to the land of Sex Boats and Vikings in Minneapolis, so Jones, Nelson and Cobb have some slack to pick up. It just might not be as much as you think. Let’s look at last season for reference.
Greg Jennings– Was a thorn in the side of 2012 fantasy owners and a player that ended up dropped in most leagues without an IR designation. Jennings struggled with a groin injury to start the season that limited his abilities and ended up requiring surgery which kept him on the bench through the meat of the fantasy schedule. Jennings ended up with 366 yards on the season and four touchdowns, two of them coming in a Week 17 game that was entirely worthless for fantasy owners. All in all, Jennings was worth a serviceable WR3-level of service in spot-duty averaging 7.6 fantasy points in standard leagues per game and had a troublesome 39.6 percent TD dependency rate.
Jordy Nelson– Was no dream to own in 2012 fantasy leagues, either. Despite one mid-season burst of elite production which included three of four games over 15 fantasy points with a 30.1-point exclamation mark coming at Houston, Nelson was inconsistent. While the game log doesn’t show them as “missed games,” there were three games he was listed as “active” when he had to leave early with various ailments. Nelson was not a common factor on many 2012 championship fantasy squads as the WR1 or even WR2 he was drafted as. Nelson ended the season with 745 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 9.6 fantasy points a game in those played with his own troubling 36.2 percent TD dependency.
Randall Cobb– Randall Cobb had the breakout season many were expecting in 2012, finally emerging as somewhat of a Percy Harvin II in the NFC North who would line up all over the field, and a player who the team would design special plays for in order to get him free in space. Cobb was likely drafted as a WR3 or later in 2012, but that will not be the case in 2013 as Cobb is coming off a 954-yard, 10 touchdown season and averaging 10.4 points per game for standard league owners with just over 29 percent TD dependency. Cobb was the No. 13 WR of 2012 standard leagues, a rock-solid option week-in and week-out.
James Jones– It’s truly unbelievable that James Jones, a player whose production in 2012 was accounted for by unpredictable touchdowns over 53 percent of the time, turned out to be the best fantasy option to own on the season. Even though he only put up 784 yards, we can look back at the 2012 season and say that in any given game, Jones had a 93.7 percent chance of scoring a touchdown. His TD dependency-rate was a monster sell-high red flag, but as Byron Lambert of RW always says, Jones’ saving grace was that Aaron Rodgers simply throws a million touchdowns. Jones finished the 2012 season averaging 10.8 points per game for his owners in standard leagues.
When looking at the ADPs, it becomes very obvious I will likely not be drafting any of these players in 2013. I would prefer to deal for the one of them that comes out and disappoints initially at a reduced price. One of them surely will, and as always, we’ll recommend beginning to target losing owners of these sorts of players in Week 4. The player who I would be most likely to pull the trigger on if I had to draft one in 2013, despite the red flags, is James Jones.
With an ADP of 28, Randall Cobb will be taken during a point in standard snake drafts that I have left reserved for strictly running backs only unless Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green somehow slip to this area.
With an ADP of 48, that puts Jordy Nelson squarely in the running for a player who would be available with a fourth-round or fifth-round pick after getting off to a start of something like Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden. At this point, I will be hoping Percy Harvin slips, and if not, start looking at the Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Hakeem Nicks-type options to pair up later with guys like Pierre Garcon or Torrey Smith. No interest in Nelson unless he falls to the late fifth or early sixth alongside guys like Josh Gordon.
Then, with an ADP of 84 is James Jones. The most productive fantasy WR in an absolute gold-mine offense. Yes, his dependency on TDs is troublesome, and it seems impossible to keep up, but the scoring isn’t going to just stop in 2013 at Lambeau Field. We saw in 2012 that when Jennings is not in the game, Jones simply gets the red-zone looks. It’s what kills Jermichael Finley’s fantasy value.
Even if we see a 20% drop off from 2012, we’re still looking at an 8-point per game option in standard leagues that can be drafted as a WR3.
So, as is usually the case here at RosterWatch, when asked which player we would rather have out of a group that is classified together in some close shape or form, we’re giving a familiar answer.
Give us whoever we can draft latest.