On most days, being a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers is a pretty sweet gig. You get to catch a lot of passes from a quarterback who has a career completion percentage of 65.7, and during Aaron Rodgers’ time as a starter he’s averaged 4,266 passing yards per season.
That’s a recipe for straight money, for both you, the Packers receiver, and you, the fantasy owner of a Packers receiver. The catch, though, is that one of those parties (the guy who’s actually playing football) has to stay healthy. Today we’ve been given our daily reminder that being a healthy and functioning football player is not an easy task. Ain’t that right, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb?
Injury news on both Nelson and Cobb surfaced today from several Wisconsin dispatches. Nelson’s injury is far more serious, as he left camp to have a knee “procedure,” and he’ll be out for the remainder of the preseason. When he met with the assembled media mafia, head coach Mike McCarthy said he’s now doing the only thing he can do with Nelson: hope he’ll be ready for Week 1.
Later, more specifics emerged. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the procedure was needed to fix (permanently this time, one can only hope) a nerve issue that’s lingered since Nelson’s college days. Adam Schefter then tossed out a four-to-six week recovery timetable, and although the high end of that is scary as Nelson would miss at least two games, the Scheft assured us that opening week is a likely and realistic target. Still, needing to finally cave and repair an injury that’s existed for five years isn’t a good look.
Cobb, meanwhile, left practice today with a biceps injury. Although even the smallest ding now deserves our attention given what we know about Nelson and the effect his potential absence could have on Rodgers, Cobb’s injury is indeed minor. Maybe it’ll grow into something more significant (as is the way of the August injury), but he was spotted doing sideline sprints. Yes, I’m aware the biceps muscle isn’t in your leg, but we’ll take it.
But back to our boy Jordy, as he’s the source of our fears. Right now in your head you may be saying: “whatever, if he misses one week that’s no biggie”. That’s just a way to gently make yourself believe all is well.
Every missed game for any reason is significant during a fantasy football season that’s generally only 13 weeks long. So yes, you should cautiously knock Nelson down a notch or three in your rankings, especially after a season in which he struggled with a different muscle injury (hamstring), missing four games.
Right now Nelson generally has a top 50 ADP (45 at My Fantasy League, and 42.9 at Fantasy Football Calculator). That also makes him a top 15 player at his position, ahead of Mike Wallace, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, and Wes Welker, to name a few. Knowing what we now know about Nelson, and that others in his tier are healthy (god willing), sliding him behind at least two of those names is a wise risk management move, even if there’s pleasant and bubbling optimism that he’ll be just fine.
Look for a slight but noticeable bump in James Jones’ ADP, and for the Charles Johnson hype train to start its lonely ride. But there’s a broad and troubling issue here that goes beyond Nelson, and beyond Green Bay. As a whole, a once deep wide receiver position is getting mighty shallow.
For a hypothetical doom scenario, let’s assume the worst, and that Nelson misses two games. That means to start the season, a once impressively deep fantasy position will be without Nelson, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, and Percy Harvin. Oh and hey, my calendar still says it’s only August 6.
Getting a No. 1 wideout in the third round at the latest is quickly becoming more of an obligation than a choice.