Going Deep: Jordy Nelson does more with less

In an entertainment world gone lazy, we have franchises and we have spinoffs. Last week, we wrapped up the home-versus-road trilogy by looking at wide receivers and tight ends. So in the spirit of indifferent studio execs ... let's do a spinoff!

This one focuses in on the pass-catchers. Mainly to see which ones do the most with what they're getting.

Think of it like Wayne Campbell getting a gun rack for his "anniversary" present. A wide receiver or tight end could be seeing plenty of targets, but does it really mean anything if he's not making the most of them?

Our story opens with the fellows who are seeing the most targets. There probably aren't a lot of surprises here -- although it's interesting to notice the abundance of NFC East receivers on this list. Either quarterbacks in that division have remarkable tunnel vision or they've spent a lot of time trailing and been forced to throw plenty. I'm going with the latter.

While the majority of the top targeted players are also among the top 10 fantasy scorers at their position, there are a few guys who are seeing a lot of targets, but aren't exactly making hay. Cecil Shorts has seen the second-most targets of any pass-catcher in the league, but ranks 26th in fantasy scoring. Andre Johnson is 29th among wide receivers.

On the flipside, Demaryius Thomas is 14th in targets, Brandon Marshall is one spot below him. And Jordy Nelson? Try tied for 38th, alongside the likes of Greg Little and Golden Tate. Maybe Nelson should do a little taunting of his own.

So why is a guy like Nelson so much more successful without seeing a high volume of targets? Well, esteemed Around the League writer Dan Hanzus has a theory.

That song ain't so very far from wrong. Just in case you don't believe what you see on film, the numbers back it up. Nelson pulls in more than 72 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Those are numbers mostly reserved for tight ends.

By the way, anyone else catch that there are three Chargers on that list? Just another example of what has made Philip Rivers the leading candidate for fantasy comeback player of the year. But back to the lecture at hand...

It's understandable that you'd see so many tight ends with high reception percentages. Generally speaking, that position serves as an outlet or check-down for a quarterback under pressure. They run shorter routes and are targeted on higher-percentage passes. That speaks to how effective some of these wideouts have been this season -- Antonio Brown would get more fantasy love if he had more than two touchdowns.

You don't need to be a genius to figure out that the players who aren't seeing a lot of targets but still score fantasy points must be doing some pretty good things when the rock is tossed in their direction. Here's another area where Jordy Nelson excels. Every completion from Aaron Rodgers to Nelson averages 12.1 yards through the air -- that's before any yards after the catch are tacked on.

Who else is living large on that list? It's an interesting mix.

Alshon Jeffery - 13.5 yds/rec
Torrey Smith - 13.1 yds/rec
Nate Washington - 12.5 yds/rec
Jordy Nelson - 12.1 yds/rec
Vernon Davis - 12.1 yds/rec
Riley Cooper - 12.0 yds/rec
DeAndre Hopkins - 12.0 yds/rec
T.Y. Hilton - 11.9 yds/rec
Rueben Randle - 11.4 yds/rec
Calvin Johnson - 11.4 yds/rec

Funny how Megatron's name always pops up, isn't it?

Much of this arithmetic is wiped out by a player who continually finds his way in the end zone. After all, that's the name of the game and a guy who is frequently dancing in the painted area is a fantasy owner's bonanza. Why else did so many people go rushing after Joseph Fauria and Marvin Jones after multiple-touchdown weeks? But touchdowns are fickle creatures. So if you have found a player who excels in two or more of the above categories, chances are you've been a pretty happy fantasy owner this season.

Catch Jordy Nelson on the latest edition of the Rich Eisen Podcast!

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man that doesn't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. Follow him on Twitter.

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