Staff Roundtable: Jordy Nelson's Injury and Fantasy Ripple Effect

An in-depth look at how the Footballguys Staff reacted to Jordy Nelson season-ending injury news.

Unfortunately, football is not devoid of major injuries with implications and ripple effects that have the ability to change the fantasy landscape in a split second. The Footballguys Staff were on the Jordy Nelson injury news as it happened. Below is an illustration of how it all went down, but more importantly, we share our thoughts on what this now means for Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery, even Eddie Lacy. 

The Footballguys Staff are equipped with a group text feature that we only use for Breaking News situations and fantasy relevant injuries. When an event occurs that is worthy of being shared, the entire staff receives an alert text message via GroupMe. The first message comes in via Sigmund Bloom...

Sunday August 23, 2015 1:19 PM et. Sigmund Bloom

Jordy Nelson leg inj, limped off field, walking to locker room with trainers. Non Contact injury.  

1:20 PM et Alessandro Miglio

Looked like he rolled his ankle to me. Limp-Jogged off immediately so hopefully not serious. 

A few minutes go by with unknown details. On an alarm scale of 1-10 this was simmering at a 3-4. The fact that Nelson jogged off under his own power was refreshing, but anytime there's a non-contact injury the level of concern should be high, especially for a player of Nelson's magnitude. 

1:26 PM et Joe Bryant

From Rotoworld - Nelson immediately went to the ground after his left leg appeared to give way as he tried to turn upfield. He was able to walk off the field himself, but non-contact injuries are always concerning. Nelson walked around on the sideline for several minutes before walking to the locker room. Nelson had offseason surgery on his hip. He was replaced by Jeff Janis. What's our level of concern this is serious on this?
1:27 PM et Jeff Tefertiller shares a vine of the play. (Note - Some injuries can be grapic to view, this one is low on the gruesome scale) 


1:28 PM et Joe Bryant 

Perfect. How did he get off field to locker room? Cart? Limp? Limp badly?

1:28 PM et Dr. Jene Bramel

Too hard to tell on my phone screen whether it's knee or ankle. Anyone have a better view and I can spec more. Otherwise it's going to be a bit before I can say more.

1:29 PM et Alessandro Miglio

He had a jogging limp, didn't stay down for more than a few seconds. He was also standing on the sideline being checked out, at least initially.

1:31 PM et Scott Bischoff

That left knee doesn't look stable when he hits the ground, perhaps because of the ankle, but it doesn't look stable to me.

1:32 PM et Alessandro Miglio

To me, either his pain tolerance is incredible (got up so fast) or it wasn't terribly serious.

1:33 PM et Keith Overton

Slightly more complete video


At this point, the discussion is moved to a staff email and 27 minutes after the injury, Joe Bryant sends out the first email to alert the 300,000+ who are signed up on the Free Daily Email Update list.  If you're not signed up for this, you can do so here. It's incredibly worth it. 

Hi Folks,

This is WAY early but with a player this important on a day when so many drafts are happening, we wanted to let you know.

Green Bay WR Jordy Nelson left the game after suffering what appeared to be a leg injury.

You can see the video here

He was able to get off the field under his own power and jogged off with a slight limp. He was seen walking on the sideline and then standing on the sideline as the medical people checked him.

So it doesn't look to be overly serious. Or possibly not serious at all. But I know guys are drafting right now so we wanted to send you an alert.

Thanks to the Footballguys Staffers for the heads up here. Have a great Sunday.

The Speculation Begins

Packers Beat Writers tweet out information


The concern continues as the Footballguys Staff shares their opinons via email 

Jeff Haseley
At first I thought we might be overreacting here, but there does appear to be some discomfort for Nelson. You could tell when he was walking/running off the field he wasn't pleased. Rodgers also looked a bit unsure when Nelson jogged past him to the sideline. No GB reporters seem to be that concerned, but no word of him coming back to the field yet either.  Could be nothing, could be something, esp if related to his hip (is that possible Jene)?  

Phil Alexander
Just saw this come across the timeline

But then there's this too

And then the Bomb was dropped

This just got real. VERY REAL. Opinions start to come in...

Ari Ingel
Torn ACL ... Wow. Everyone gets a bump, but Janis or Adams getting a major bump

Phil Alexander
It's going to be interesting. Adams profiles as more of a slot guy. Janis had been playing outside at OTAs when Jordy was out. Adams is justifiably going to get all the hype, but Janis is a player to watch as Nelson's direct backup. He carries plenty of appeal as a late round lottery ticket until we know for sure how the wide receiver snaps are divvied up in Nelson's absence. At this point, I'd prefer stashing Janis on my bench over the low ceiling veteran wide receivers typically available in the tenth round of fantasy drafts, or later.

Jason Wood
Randall Cobb becomes part of the elite tier (if you didn't have him that way already) and Davante Adams is the big winner as he becomes a top 20 WR almost by default. Also gives Janis a new lease on life after a tough preseason. Rodgers remains elite, although the gap between Luck and Aaron widens a smidge.

John Mamula
Bump Davante Adams for early season DFS 

Scott Biscoff
Davante Adams is clear and away a better athlete and receiver than Janis is, and in that offense I'd move Adams up as I see him easily a WR2 at this point. He's going to get a good amount of volume. 

Ari Ingel
Note this on Janis ... I wouldn't rule out Ty Montgomery being the 3rd: Packers WR Jeff Janis Struggling in Camp

Steve Holloway
Am I the only one that expects more targets for the TE Rodgers? 

Joe Bryant (to Dr. Jene Bramel)
When "initial diagnosis is torn acl. Awaiting mri" What is your best guess percentage that he adctually has a torn acl?  75% 99%  In other words, how often does it happen when the MRI does not confirm the initial dianosis? 

Craig Zumsteg (to Joe)
New injury guy here, so I'd defer to Jene. But from what I see, we're talking 99% if the initial diagnosis is ACL. Initial diagnosis is a mechanical test where they test the laxity of the knee. This is very accurate and good at distinguishing ACL from other ligaments. The MRI usually just assesses the severity of the ACL injury, and doesn't typically provide much new info. Possible that we're talking a less-than-total ACL tear, and that would show up on MRI. Even if that's the case though, we're still looking at IR, no doubt. 

Dr. Jene Bramel (to Joe)
Very likely. If Rap (Ian Rapoport) has a reliable source, 95% or higher. An experienced doc doing an exam shouldn't be fooled. I can't remember an instance where a combination of right mechanism and good source proved to be wrong. 

Joe Bryant
Perfect. That's what I needed.  

Dr. Jene Bramel
I would guess they would try to have an MRI today, but it may not be until tomorrow morning. Not emergent.  

Joe Bryant
Can you unpack "Not emergent?"

Dr. Jene Bramel
Yes, sideline exams are reliable for NFL medical staff. An MRI almost always confirms. If Ian Rapoport's source is good, expect to hear a confirmation soon. Also - NFL teams send players to a facility. Only Cincinnati has an MRI machine in their stadium (the last I knew). The exam would have to be scheduled. They are not likely to call in an MR tech unless there's a major concern over the weekend. 

Joe Bryant
How about this? Be sure to read what Rapoport says here. "Initial diagnosis". The MRI has the final say. But clearly, this looks awful right now. It's possible we won't have official word on the MRI until tonight or even tomorrow. I don't know the doctor who made the diagnosis but Rapoport is a reliable reporter and I'm going to assume the Green Bay physician is a top doctor. Sideline exams are reliable for NFL medical staff and the MRI almost always confirms. If Rapoport's source is good, expect to hear confirmation soon. 

Dr. Jene Bramel

Matt Waldman
From a fantasy standpoint there are a lot of players with the opportunity to fill the void to some capacity, but the loss of Nelson's skill to win anywhere on the field and his consistency to get open and read the field is a major loss for the Packers. Adams is not nearly as intelligent of a player, Janis is inconsistent on a good day, and Abbrederis only has Nelson's smarts and hands. 

Adrian Coxson, who got cut last week due to "hiding an injury" when he got concussed, had the best long-term potential to develop into a Nelson-like player in the same way Charles Johnson once did before getting bounced to Cleveland. It's a shame he couldn't stay healthy.  
Rodgers is great enough to find ways to make this work and make it look a little more seamless of a transition than other quarterbacks in this situation, but I'm not expecting Adams, Janis, Abbrederis or the tight end to completely fill the void this year. I'm considering a slight decrease in Rodgers' upside. 
Montgomery has been excellent in camp and if he can show he can track and win the ball down field in tight coverage, he'll be a major find. I suspect it's more likely Rodgers leans hard on Cobb for that role, Adams continues to earn targets with what he does best (slants, fades,and crossers) and Montgomery earns a shot to be the extension of the ground game from the slot and play action deep threat when he can match against a  linebacker.

Chris Feery
I'll second the uptick for TE Rodgers. 

Ari Ingel
Also, it cannot be under estimated what a great quarterback can do with even average receivers. I think back to Peyton Manning making almost stars out of Garcon & Collie when they were rookies.  

Matt Waldman (to Ari)
It's a good point, but remember that Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark were healthy and had 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns apiece during Garcon's and Collie's rookie year. Collie-Garcon: 181 targets, 107 catches, 1441 yards, 11 scores--great work, but if we cannot underestimate the presence of Wayne-Clark as known commodities and earning a combined 282 targets, 200 catches, 2370 yards, and 20 scores to open up those opportunities for the youngsters. 
My point...expecting a record or top-3 performance from Rodgers this year without Cobb AND Nelson might be asking too much. Even from a great QB.

Jason Wood (to Matt)
Wait, he still has Randall Cobb Matt. Not sure I get what you're saying 
Matt Waldman (to Jason)
Cobb is one guy. My point is that a quarterback needs two to have a record year. I don't think collectively those inexperienced options equal Nelson in production. Clark and Wayne were two options at the top of their game when Garcon and Collie were productive enough to help Manning deliver a banner season. 
Think T.O. and Rice, Moss-Carter. Brown-Rice, Chad Johnson-Chris Henry-T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Colston-Graham. Who is that second guy who is going to make the leap to Nelson's level of all-around play to help the rest? It's far from automatic that Janis-Adams-Rodgers are good enough to do that. They might be just good enough collectively, but I'm not automatically assuming they are.
Jason Wood (to Matt)
I agree to a point, but Rodgers has been elite through a laundry list of receivers. He's much closer to the pack now, but I can't see him falling out of the top 2. Particularly given the uncertainty at QB this's not as though Big Ben, Wilson, etc..are high conviction guys as QB3, QB4, etc.. 

Jason Wood
My first take at adjusted projections:

Cobb gets a bump up to 145 targets: 98/1375/11 (WR6 in PPR)
Adams to 120 targets: 80/1000/7 (WR22)
Janis to 65 targets: 40/550/4
Montgomery to 51 targets: 35/410/4

Richard Rodgers to 50 targets: 34/400/4

Aaron Rodgers loses some yards (Nelson was a great deep threat) and 2 TD passes but remains the clear QB2, it's just that he's not as far out in front of the pack as he was before:

382/570 for 4520/37/9 with 225 rushing/2 rush TD

Matt Waldman
I have a pretty high conviction for Big Ben. Brown-Bryant-Miller are more proven to me than Cobb-Adams-(name your third guy). Wheaton may be better than the Packers' second guy. Wilson, I agree because he manufactures a lot of yards with his legs and only has Graham. 
I think Rodgers is still a top-5 guy, but I have some pause to keep him top-2 or maybe even top-3.He might be a bit of a false positive for those who like to draft QBs early. It's not out of the question to lean on Rodgers' greatness, but when I look at top QBs over the years--as great as they are--they rarely have just one top-notch, established receiver. There's at least two if not three excellent pass catchers at WR-TE-RB. 
It's not strong enough of an argument for me to think anyone's nuts for sticking with Rodgers this high, but I think it's a worthwhile argument to broach. 

Bob Henry
I'm on the watch out for Montgomery side. He's raw as a receiver, but he has been having a strong camp and he might already be every bit as good a receiver as Janis is. 
Slight bump for TE Richard Rodgers, too. And agree with Cobb moving up even further into the top 5ish - or the elite WR1 tier.
I'll have to see how the targets/catches spread out with my team projections before assessing just where Adams ends up, but it's safe to say like others have said that he's a top 20 WR and legitimate WR2. 
Don't anticipate much change in Lacy, but some of you FBG studs might be able to tell us how Adams/other WRs are as blockers downfield in the run game. 
My $0.02 for now.

Sigmund Bloom
Knee jerk reactions
Cobb - maybe more targets/bigger role, but job gets harder without an over the top deep threat. slight tick up in overall, but unchanged in WR ranks (ie still behind green)
Adams - Jump up to 5th/6th round (think Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant range) - While he will get the #1 outside WR role and they have been raving about him, he was VERY uneven last year. Has ability to exceed or underperform his ADP by 2-3 rounds if he levels of in 5-6 range.
Janis/Montgomery/White - Like Adams, they need another injury to be relevant. Unlike Adams, they will be coming into a significantly weaker offense than originally envisioned if we get to injury number two in the pass offense to get them on the field more. Waiver wire speed dial
Richard Rodgers - More prominent role TE is possible, including some more red zone love. Still a fringe upside TE2. Waiver wire speed dial unless its TE premium or a deep league.
Aaron Rodgers- Has to drop at least a little. Still QB2, but Luck the obvious QB1 now. Packers are also content to win games 20-17. This could take the foot off of the gas of their overall aggressiveness on offense a bit. Tough to draft him unless he starts to full at least a full round after Luck and not more than 1-2 rounds before Roethlisberger/Wilson.
Eddie Lacy - While he will lose some scoring drives to possibly finish in a less efficient offense, see more game scripts that benefit Lacy (ie fewer home blowouts that leave Lacy on bench most of second half like 2014). Unchanged, which is a testament to his rock solid value.
GB D/ST - The big appeal here was the Packers potential to boat race teams behind a high octane offense and leave opposing offenses stretched way out of their comfort zone to catch up. Still draftable, but as a lead off streamer against a Chicago team that seems precarious, not a season long leave em in your lineup all year D/ST.
Dan Hindery
I agree with Sig, though I think I like Adams a slight bit more than Robinson/Bryant. Could make a case for him starting in the mid-4th round and he’s a steal if he makes it to the 6th. Rodgers is just so accurate and efficient that he is likely to score more points than Bryant or Robinson on a similar numbers of targets. 
And now that I’m thinking about it, I do think I’d bump him over AJ Green just slightly. But still behind Calvin, Julio, Dez and those other top WRs.
I think Janis, Montgomery and those guys probably split the pie too much for any real fantasy relevancy though they make for nice late round upside plays. They are one injury away from having real value. 
Chase Stuart
Playing moderator in the Woodrow/Waldman debate, I looked at the 100 QBs to rank in the top 4 in fantasy scoring in each of the last 25 years.  Here's a graph:

Now, if I was making the pro-Rodgers case, I'd start like this:

  • In 2010, Rodgers was QB1. He didn't have a top 25 RB, and he had just one top-40 WR. His TE ranked 36th.  So Rodgers has proven that he can be QB1 without much help.
  • In 2008, 2009, and 2012, Rodgers ranked 1st or 2nd in scoring, didn't have a top 10 TE in any of those years, and his second WR ranked 17, 22, and 22.  There was no great pass-catching back, either.
  • Let's look at all QBs who (1) ranked in the top 4, (2) gained
  • Philip Rivers 2010 (4th with Floyd (42nd), Crayton (79), and Gates)
  • John Elway, 1993 (2nd, with Shannon Sharpe but zero 35 WRs)
  • Drew Brees, 2006 (2nd, no TE, 1 WR in the top 30)
  • Drew Brees, 2014 (3rd, Graham but no WR in the top 30)
  • Stafford, 2013 (4th, Megatron, nothing else)
  • Drew Brees, 2013 (2nd, Graham, no WR in the top 25)

Now, QB scoring is on the rise, so maybe you think to have that big year now, you do need 2 WRs.  After all, Rodgers' 357 FP in 2010 would have ranked 7th last year. (However, Rodgers missed a game; pro-rate to 16 games, and his 381 points would have ranked 3rd).  There's no doubt that losing Nelson harms Rodgers' ceiling, right? Well, actually, I'm not even sure about that.

In case you didn't read any of this email because you figured there would be too much awesome stats, stop and at least read this part.

Last year, Green Bay ranked 20th in pass attempts. But Rodgers had 313 pass attempts in the first halves of games, and 207 in the second halves.  IOW, Rodgers ceiling from a fantasy perspective was always artificially lowered because the Packers don't stomp on the accelerator with a lead.  Without Nelson, it's possible, if not probable, that any dropoff in quality (likely) will be offset by an increase in quantity.  That 1st quarter TD to Nelson might just be replaced by a 4th quarter TD to Adams.

Nelson is awesome, but losing him doesn't mean Rodgers can't still be awesome.   Take a look at what happened the last time the Packers lost a superstar WR:

Matt Waldman
Welp, there you have it. Good call Chase. 

Alessandro Miglio
Nothing about Nelson's reaction indicated it was serious. I know that there are plenty of people who walk off torn ACL injuries before they're diagnosed, but he got up so fast and jogged off. Crazy. (This also highlights, once again, that I am no Dr. Jene Bramel.)
Chase Stuart
Drew Brees is the real template for the Rodgers truthers now.  Brees has been a fantasy stud for years and often done it with 0 or 1 superstars. That just leaves two questions:

1) Will Rodgers really see a big uptick in quantity? Brees has been great in no small part due to the huge quantity he has.  Now, I think GB will have to throw more if they can't throw as effectively, but it's always possible that (a) the Packers decide to run more because the passing attack will be worse, and (b) the uptick in quantity won't be enough to offset the decrease in quality.

I don't think (a) is all that likely because I think GB's low pass attempts numbers are more a function of game script (which is highly tied to Rodgers' quality) than anything else.  (b) could happen, but it would require all of the non-Cobb WRs disappointing this year (or something happening to Cobb).

2) Brees has had at least competent other options.  In 2013, he had Colston as the 2nd threat and Sproles and Pierre Thomas.  In 2009, Devery Henderson and Jeremy Shockey were competent.  Will Will Adams or Janis be at least solid?  If they are Stephen Hill, Rodgers is in trouble.

I also would say that it would be a little clearer if Rodgers at least had a good pass-catching RB to eat up yards, but in general, I'd err on the sides of reacting less to the Nelson news. 
Alessandro Miglio
Just wrote this up for the FD blog, in case anyone is interested (or notices any problems): 
Austin Lee
For the Green Bay offense, I slightly lowered passing touchdowns and yards per completion. I also increased interceptions slightly. I left play counts alone. As Chase alludes to, I think less first-half efficiency leads to higher second-half output, ultimately being a wash for my play-count predictions with and without Jordy Nelson.
I still have Aaron Rodgers as QB2, but he's much closer to the second tier. Randall Cobb bumps up a spot to WR6, and Adams jumps to WR23. No other GB receiver cracks the top 60 in terms of projections, but are reasonable late-round fliers based on upside. Richard Rodgers bumps up to TE19 and is ok as an upside TE2 pick.
Justin Howe
My Rodgers projections fell, of course, to where he's now definitively behind Luck. Considering I don't expect Luck to return on 2nd-round value, and Rodgers is now a full round worse, it's safe to say I won't own any more shares of either going forward.
I have Adams jumping but not incredibly far. 72-912-8, my WR25 (he leapfrogs B. Marshall).. And I love Adams, but can't make the numbers work any differently. He could see more than that if Janis/Montgomery/White are just not prepared for the stage, but even then, Rodgers is too shrewd to force the ball to two guys. He'll always spread it to the open man, and many will see targets.
Scott Bischoff
Thinking out loud and probably not very well on this, but, I wonder if Reggie Wayne might want to take a little stroll to Green Bay for a visit? Thoughts?
Alessandro Miglio
Had the same thought, wonder if the Packers tell him "call us before you sign in New England." 
Joe Bryant
From the post game presser. You can see the look on Rodgers' face. He doesn't look like a guy hopeful for good news tomorrow

From our What If? Series, written 13 days ago - What if Jordy Nelson And/Or Randall Cobb Are Lost For The Season?
Jason Wood shares his thoughts on how the Packers fantasy landscape shakes out. 

Final thoughts

The news of losing Jordy Nelson is a crushing blow to the Packers, their fans and fantasy owners who may have drafted him already. Unlike the situation in Carolina losing Kelvin Benjamin, the Packers have quality depth at the wide receiver position. Aaron Rodgers has the ability to make the Packers offense a plug and play system, where the "next man up" benefits. That is not exactly the case with Cam Newton in Carolina. Filling the void for Nelson is Davante Adams, who many expected to take a step forward this year as the team's third wide receiver. He automatically gets a bump in value and should see an increase in snaps and targets, but there's also room for another receiver to emerge as a fantasy threat. We don't have enough clarity to know if Jeff Janis or Stanford rookie Ty Montgomery will develop into the team's third wide receiver. Expect this battle to be front and center in the remaining preseason games. Both should be on your waiver wire speed dial and one could emerge as a flex option. Janis has more experience, but Montgomery has made more of an impression in camp and preseason. Janis entered the game when Nelson left, but this battle is long from over.

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