Last season the Arizona Cardinals receiving corps was Larry Fitzgerald and utter chaos. Michael Floyd drunk drove his way off the team, John Brown’s various maladies kept him from producing, and Jaron Brown tore his ACL. John Brown has seemingly healed, Jaron Brown is being handled with kid gloves, and Larry Fitzgerald is reaching the end of the line and that leaves a third spot open for the Cardinals offense.
Enter J.J. Nelson. On his face, Nelson does not present much of a fantasy football threat. He’s a small speedster deep threat, who saw some run as a DFS play in 2016. However, the third-year wide receiver is poised to break out in 2017, and all he needs is the opportunity. Nelson doesn’t have an astounding line over his first two years: 45 receptions on 101 targets, going for 867 yards and eight touchdowns over two years.
It’s been a rough go for Nelson, who has played fourth-or-fifth fiddle in the Cardinals offense, but he has done incredibly well when given the opportunity. He has seven career games with more than five targets, and in those games, he averages four receptions for 83 yards and .71 touchdowns per game. If you prorate that out over an entire season, that’s 66 receptions for 1323 yards and 11 touchdowns. Obviously, you can’t expect Nelson to reproduce that exact production over a full season, but he has shown he produces when given opportunities. He’s extremely boom-or-bust, so he’s best suited as a WR3 or a flex option.
Nelson’s current ADP per FantasyPros is 201, which is essentially undrafted. If you’re at the end of your draft and looking for someone who might pop off in the first couple of weeks, Nelson is your man. The Cardinals take on the woefully bad secondaries in Detroit, Indy, Dallas and San Francisco to start the season, which means you’ll know within the first month if Nelson was worth it or not.
J.J. Nelson will have to fend off rookie Chad Williams for the #3 role, but he has a track record of producing, given the opportunity. He is essentially free at this point and has an early schedule that will clue you in on his legitimacy quickly. He’s the ideal fantasy football deep sleeper candidate that will give you early indications as to his viability on your roster.