Randall Cobb vs. Jordy Nelson vs. James Jones
The Green Bay Packers have one of the most prolific air attacks with some of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers took over the reigns at quarterback from Brett Favre and the Packers offense has not missed a beat. Since Rodgers took over in 2008 the Packers continued to be a top ten passing offense. Aaron Rodgers has had a plethora of talented wide outs during that time frame including Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb. Each of these wide receivers have been feasting on NFL cornerbacks season after season. With Greg Jennings gone to the Minnesota Vikings and Donald Driver retiring, a trio of wide receivers are left for Aaron Rodgers to pitch the pigskin to in 2013. The real key on draft day is drafting the Packers wide receiver that offers the best value at some point in your fantasy drafts. I break down the positives and negatives of the trio heading into 2013.
Randall Cobb – ADP – 32
Randall Cobb is currently being taken as the 32nd player in drafts based on information from FFCalulator.com. This makes him the ninth wide receiver taken based on current mock drafts. Heading into his third NFL season Cobb may see a reduction in special teams duties which will allow him to see more of the field during more offensive series. In 2012 Randall Cobb only played 61% of the offensive snaps for the Packers. He was still able to finish with 80 catches for 954 yards and an additional 132 yards rushing. Playing 61% of the offensive snaps ranked Cobb 69th in the NFL for snap percentage on the season based on data from Pro Football Focus. This leaves a lot of room for growth heading into 2013. The loss of Jennings coupled with a wide receiver heading into their 3rd season could mean huge numbers for Randall Cobb in 2013.
From an offensive perspective Cobb is being used in a variety of ways. He can run the ball out of the backfield as well as work in the slot. Last season the majority of his work came in the slot with as staggering 84% of his routes ran out of the slot. He also accumulated 497 YAC which is more than half of his total yards. Cobb is an electric player that has the ability to score each and every play. The loss of two Packers wideouts have left a hole to be filled. Cobb has amazing ability but is he worthy of the 32nd overall pick with the other weapons in Green Bay?
Jordy Nelson – ADP – 48
Jordy Nelson is currently being drafted as the 48th player in fantasy football leagues based on information from FFCalculator.com. This makes him the 17th wide receiver being drafted based on current mock drafts. After an incredible 2011 season where Nelson finished with 68 receptions, 1268 yards, and 15 touchdowns, Nelson’s injury riddled 2012 campaign left much to be desired. Nelson still managed to finish the season with 49 catches, 745 yards, and seven touchdowns. Nelson turned 28 this season and is still a young explosive player. The fact that he was on the shelf last season with an ankle injury and missed four games has some fantasy owners wondering if he will bounce back.
Nelson worked much of the 2011 and 2012 campaign playing outside the numbers opposite James Jones. Nelson played 68% of the total offensive snaps for the Packers when he was healthy. Nelson may have had an uptick in fantasy production if he played more snaps. He still managed to score seven touchdowns playing in only 12 games. He does not have the same physical explosiveness as Cobb, but he is still a solid wideout who can get open and was second in the team in passing catch percentage. Nelson may not be the most targeted guy on the Packers, but he may be the best value in drafts.
James Jones – ADP – 71
James Jones was one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 fantasy football season. Jones currently being drafted as the 71st player in fantasy football mock drafts based on information from FFCalculator.com. This makes Jones the 28th wide receiver being taken overall. Jones may be the toughest player to project of the group. It is amazing that a guy can finish the 2012 campaign with 72 catches for 922 yards and 15 touchdowns and still be considered somewhat of an afterthought. Jones may have peaked in 2012, when he played 91% of snaps for the Packers. This does not leave much room for improvement when he played maximum snaps and still only managed to catch for 922 yards. Jones did rank first overall among all wide receivers with 14 touchdown catches.
Jones is the same age as Jordy Nelson. He proved to be the most reliable wide receiver in the red zone in 2012 for Aaron Rodgers. Some of that may have been due to Jordy Nelson missing four games with injury. In Nelson’s absence, Jones caught four touchdown passes. Will Jones be targeted the same in 2013 if Nelson is healthy? That is a question that is left to be determined.
When looking at the thre wide receivers in Green Bay’s receiver corps it is easy to note that all of them have fantasy football value because of Aaron Rodgers. Where is the value in drafts? If you are looking for the player with the highest ceiling it is Randall Cobb. His fantasy production is yet to be maximized due to his lack of offensive snaps. Nelson also played limited snaps last season and looks to bounce back from his injury riddled season in Green Bay. He may be the best value if he can return to his 2011 form. Jones is the afterthought in the Green Bay passing attack. Many fantasy owners will not get the same value from him as last season in my opinion, but he would be a solid WR3 on your squad.
I have been a sports medicine professional for the last 10 years. Active in 5 dynasty leagues because fantasy football is all year long. I have a beautiful daughter and wonderful wife.