After one of his least sexy seasons, one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers has slipped out of favor. In a season where you’ve got to scratch and dig and fight to find receivers for your fantasy squad, I’m here to show you that a little recency bias is giving you a discount on one of the league’s best players.
A.J. Green’s Career
Selected fourth overall in the 2011 NFL draft, A.J. Green led the Bengals in receiving during his rookie year. In fact, only once in his career has he failed to record 1,000 receiving yards. This happened in 2016 when Green only played 10 games and still recorded 964 receiving yards.
In 2017 Green averaged the fewest yards per game, yards per target, and PPR points per game of his career! For the first time since his rookie year, Green caught fewer than five passes per game. Some drafters are concerned about Green’s age. While he is entering his age-30 season and players do decline at that age, the decline isn’t that bad when you place it in context. Plenty of WRs are still able to produce at 30.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals Offense
With the exception of 2013 when Marvin Jones caught 10 TDs on 51 total receptions, Andy Dalton’s scoring has been linked to that of A.J. Green.
To gather more information about the duo, let’s take a closer look at Andy Dalton’s production.
Like Green, Dalton suffered a downturn in 2017 and passed for the fewest yards per game of his career. He also scored his fewest PPG since he was a rookie. The Bengals offense was simply pathetic last year, but Dalton and Green’s historical production suggests it will regress to the mean.
In 2017, the league average for passing yards per game was 224.4. After being above average in 2015 and 2016, it’s unlikely that the Bengals remain among the worst in 2018.
To find a reasonable projection for Green, we’ll take the average pass attempts for the Bengals during his tenure there. This amounts to 534.71 pass attempts. How many of those targets will go to Green?
|Year||AJ Green’s TGTs||Dalton’s PAtt||Market Share|
During his career with Dalton, Green has averaged a 28.9 percent market share of his targets. If we assume 534.7 pass attempts, that’s 154.4 projected targets for Green. By applying his career averages, Green’s 2018 projection looks like this.
In 2017, this would have been good for a WR4 finish. If he stays healthy, Green should outperform the expectations of a mid-second round pick by a good margin. Green is currently being selected in a dead heat with Davante Adams at WR7.
Sell 2017, Buy A.J. Green
Despite some struggles in 2017, A.J. Green is poised to bounce back and look like a steal in the second round. This is Green’s lowest average draft position since 2012. The last time he was a roughly similar value (15th overall in 2015), he gained 1,279 yards and scored double-digit TDs. With an established rapport with Dalton and very few threats around him,1 Green remains a high-floor target machine with an outside shot to even finish as the WR1.
- The Bengals are looking for John Ross, Tyler Boyd, or even Josh Malone to emerge, but all are speculative plays with plenty of risk. (back)