It quite possibly might have been the quietest top-12 finish for a wide receiver outside of Juilo Jones, but A.J. Green was a WR1/WR2 (WR12) in half PPR leagues despite being part of the Bengals season to forget in 2017.
Posting six career seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards – which would have been all seven career seasons if he didn’t get injured in ’16 – Green has been one of the game’s top receivers since joining the league in 2011. Along with his impressive yardage totals, Green has never been targeted under 100 times in a season and has notched double-digit touchdowns three times.
Green was a hot commodity with an average draft position of 1.10, the fifth receiver off the board, after coming off an injury-plagued 2016 season that only allowed him to play in 10 games but yet still put up 66 receptions, 964 yards and four touchdowns.
Green ended up finishing 2017 as the WR12 with 75 receptions, 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns. Overall the stats look good, but if you look at his game log, you’ll notice he started out real hot posting 25.1, 14.8 and 32.4 points weeks three through five. From then on out, Green was up and down the rest of the season, along with a week nine stinker (1 rec, 6 yards) against Jacksonville where he was ejected after his fight with Jaguars’ cornerback, Jalen Ramsey.
Green’s 144 targets were good for ninth-most in the league. He also posted just a 52% catch rate, which is kind of a red flag, but that may be more to blame on Andy Dalton and the offensive line as they gave him very little time to get the ball to Green and the Bengals’ offensive playmakers.
The Bengals recognized the flaws in their offensive line and have upgraded it compared to last year with the additions of Cordy Glenn in free agency and Billy Price in the 2018 NFL Draft. With Green’s current ADP of 2.09 in 12-team leagues (WR8) you are getting yourself a true WR1 if you select him.
The passing game for Dalton and Green should open up some with the re-signing of Tyler Eifert and an improved run game with Joe Mixon and the Bengals’ new pieces on the offensive line. We also can’t forget last year’s No. 9 overall pick, speedster John Ross, as he should also help pull double teams off of Green. If all goes as smooth as it looks, Green should easily be able to return value at his current ADP.
Hopefully, for the sake of fantasy owners, Dalton can improve his completion percentage (59.9% for ’17) closer to where it was the past three years (about 65%). With the current projected offensive line, Dalton should have no trouble completing passes to his top receiver as he looks to rebound from his what can be seen as a “down” season.
We can only hope his catch efficiency will go up as his targets – averaging 136 per year – should stay about the same, as Green continues to be the target hog that he is, which is another great aspect that draws you into drafting him.
Yes, last season may have been a little disappointing for some fantasy owners if you had high hopes of Green finishing as a top-five receiver. However, if your definition of being disappointed is a guy who finished as a lower-end WR1, you may want to pick up a new hobby outside of fantasy football.
In a previous fantasy football profile that fellow Loaded Box Podcast blogger Ben Morgan wrote about Keenan Allen, he mentioned that the ideal spot to draft Allen would be in a situation where you can select a top-tier running back in the first round and then come back with Allen in the second. I feel this is the perfect way view Green in 2018 as well.
Green is the consensus WR8 on our site’s positional rankings. With a ceiling of finishing in the top five and a floor as a low-end WR2, I feel better this year getting Green than I did in 2017 as I think he should produce no worse than a high-end WR2 as long as the offensive line and Dalton can get on the same page.