Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Dez Bryant said he cried after Sunday's loss to Green Bay.
Lately, owners of Jordy Nelson have been just as teary-eyed.
Though the Packers came out on the winning end of Sunday's barn-burner in Big D, Nelson's involvement was limited. He led the team in targets but was out-gained by two of his teammates (Jarrett Boykin and Andrew Quarless), falling short of the 100-yard threshold for the fourth straight week. His third quarter touchdown was his first in almost two months.
It's been a rough second half for No. 87, at least by his standards. Since Week 9, Nelson has averaged a mere seven fantasy points per game. He's logged 33 catches for 458 yards in that span, an average of 65.4 yards per contest.
Those totals aren't atrocious by any means. Even Sunday, Nelson was the 16th- highest scorer among fantasy wide receivers. Nelson, at his worst, is still a starter in most formats.
But what's frustrating is that Nelson was a monster during the first seven weeks of the season. Over that stretch, he pulled in 39 grabs for 649 yards. If he had kept it up, his 92.7 ypg average from Weeks 1-8 (Green Bay had their bye in Week 4) would rank fourth in the NFL behind Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson and Antonio Brown (minimum of six games played).
And that wasn't even Nelson's biggest contribution to fantasy owners. During his torrid September and October, Nelson piled on a whopping seven touchdown receptions, which is the same number he had all of last season. Overall, the former Kansas State star amassed 105 fantasy points over a seven-game period (15 ppg).
Of course, 2013 has been a tale of two seasons for Nelson: one with Aaron Rodgers and one without him. Since Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone in Week 9, Nelson just hasn't been the same. And neither have the Packers. They're 2-3-1 with Rodgers sidelined compared to 5-2 when he's been in the lineup (5-3 if you include Week 9 when Rodgers exited in the first quarter).
Needless to say, the Matt Flynn/Nelson dynamic hasn't always been there while Nelson's chemistry with Rodgers was something fantasy owners could count on every week. Nelson's only 100-yard game with Flynn under center happened two years ago.
A Rodgers/Nelson reunion in Week 16, which remains a possibility, would fix a lot of Green Bay's problems. But not all of them.
For one, it wouldn't resurrect Randall Cobb's season, which for all intents and purposes ended in Week 6 when he broke his leg. On the surface, Cobb's departure doesn't seem like it would have a major impact on Nelson. In fact, having one less receiver around might even help him. But the truth is, it's put a target on Nelson's back.
With Cobb sidelined, Nelson represents the Packers' most obvious threat in the receiving game. The increased attention Nelson has received from opposing secondaries has certainly curbed his production. Indeed, without Cobb around to spread the field, Nelson has logged just 69.6 yards per game. Before the injury, Nelson was averaging close to 97. Jermichael Finley's season-ending spine injury probably didn't help either.
But even before the injuries to Cobb and Rodgers, you could tell that this wasn't the same Green Bay offense. Throughout most of Nelson's career, the Packers have had to be pretty one-dimensional, passing on almost 60 percent of their plays. With such limited talent in the backfield (Alex Green, Brandon Jackson, James Starks and others) it's understandable why this would be the case.
Now, thanks to likely rookie of the year Eddie Lacy, the run game has become a much more prevalent part of the Green Bay offense. The 283 carries Lacy is projected for are the most by a Packer since Ryan Grant in 2008. Green Bay's run percentage (running on 44.5 percent of their plays this season) is also the highest it's been since 2008.
I'm sure this development hasn't been lost on Nelson owners. This could be the first season since 2006 that Green Bay has thrown for fewer than 25 touchdown passes.
So let it all out, fantasy owners. It's been an emotional season.
Hopefully Rodgers will be back to wipe the tears away in Week 16.
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