We have our first cataclysmic, plate tectonic shifting, season-ending injury. According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the initial diagnosis on Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is a torn ACL. Nelson went down, without contact, on his second catch during the early action of Sunday's preseason game against the Steelers. With a star like this, multiple players will feel the effect of the injury.
Aaron Rodgers will be fine. Injuries to his pass catchers have been a striking theme during the Pro Bowl quarterback's time as the Packers starter. Nelson is the best receiver on the roster, but Rodgers is the type of quarterback that can elevate the talent around him. Rodgers' statistics will not fall off a cliff as a result of this injury, but if losing Nelson causes you to move Andrew Luck ahead of him as the clear cut top fantasy quarterback, I wouldn't argue.
Randall Cobb becomes every bit worthy of his ADP. There was some concern in the fantasy community that Cobb would lose targets, and would fall back to the pack coming off a career year. We can forget about that. With Cobb now the senior member of a suddenly green wide receiver corps. He'll easily match, and likely surpass, his 127-target load from last season. Similarly, Eddie Lacy's value also holds strong.
Davante Adams is finally worth all that hype. I've been pretty vocal all offseason that Adams was a candidate to be overdrafted in the wake of waves of offseason puff pieces. The inefficient nature of his rookie season, and the lack of available targets in the Green Bay offense were major stumbling blocks. The injury to Nelson erases the latter, and thus changes everything. Rising to the starting role, Adams is now a candidate for 110 targets, and that might well be his floor. Rodgers tested him all through the preseason, and results were mixed. However, volume is the name of the game when looking for sneaky WR2 candidates in the mid-rounds. Even if Adams is inefficient for a second straight year, he'll see enough of the passing pie to be viable. Being attached to Rodgers doesn't hurt, either. He's now an easy sicth to seventh round pick in PPR leagues, and being more aggressive than that to target him could prove to be a wise maneuver.
Reserve a pick in the 13th round range for Jeff Janis. You're going to hear some suggesting Ty Montgomery gets a boost in light of this. Feel free to ignore that. When Nelson went down against the Steelers, it was 2014 seventh-rounder, Jeff Janis that entered the lineup with the first team offense. Janis now assumes Adams' old role as the number three wide out. Not familiar with Janis? He's a favorite of the metrics community due to his freakish athleticism. RotoViz writer Davis Mattek outlined prior to the 2014 draft that Janis compared to players like Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones as a pure specimen. Janis did well to bring those gifts to the field with some excellent preseason flashes. Athletic freak, with a sudden opportunity on a good offense; those are the upside picks you make right before exiting your drafts.
Do not bump up the tight ends too much. Richard Rodgers is still interesting in the late rounds of fantasy drafts, but not enough to overpay for. Andrew Quarless will still make up the second half of a rather even timeshare. Nelson's now empty targets will likely just funnel to Adams, with the remainders sprinkling to Janis and other receivers.
Not many teams can say this after losing an elite receiver, but it's still business as usual in Green Bay. The stars remain every bit as fantasy valuable as they were yesterday. Opportunity just opens up for auxiliary players now.
Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter **@MattHarmon_BYB**.