Can A.J. Green Finish as the #1 Wide Receiver in Fantasy Football?

By Anthony Knox
Follow me on Twitter @ff_knox

A.J. Green is a player that I have always liked. I have always felt like he has been a consistent #1 wide receiver and someone I always target in drafts. Green has been an elite receiver all five years he has been in the league, including his rookie year when he had over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.

While I don’t believe that Green will finish as the #1 receiver in fantasy football, I do believe it could be a possibility!

In 5 years, Green has averaged the following numbers per year:

Targets 141.6
Receptions 83
Yards 1,234.2
Touchdowns 9

The number that stands out to me in this list is 141.6 targets a year. That’s about nine targets a game. QB Andy Dalton clearly loves throwing to Green, and Green catches 59% of the passes that come his way. I also like to see that he is averaging at least 1,200 receiving yards in a season and is a touchdown away from a double digit average.

These numbers are dandy, but where do they rank against the rest of the Wide Receivers?

2011 Rank, 2012 Rank, 2013 Rank, 2014 Rank, 2015 Rank
Receptions 33, 7, 6, 34, 14
Yards 17, 10, 5, 20, 8
TDs 21, 4, 8, 29, 10

I would like to note that Green was hurt during the 2014 season and was used as a decoy more than anything else.

In three out of five seasons, Green was in the top 10 in each of those categories. That shows me that he is a very consistent receiver when he is healthy.

I lay the groundwork above to explain Green’s ability, now it’s time to explain why he could take the next level this year. It’s actually simple; he’s going to be the only show in town.

The second and third best receivers for the Bengals, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, have signed with other teams and have left Green their targets, receptions, and touchdowns. Between Jones and Sanu, they were targeted 153 times, caught 98 passes, had 1,210 yards and scored four touchdowns in 2015. With those two guys gone from the Bengals, Green is likely going to see an increase in all categories because he has the trust of Dalton over anyone else.

Tyler Eifert being injured is another reason why Green could be even better. He is healing from an ankle injury, and it doesn’t look like he is going to be ready for Week 1 and maybe even longer. Eifert had 52 receptions on 72 targets for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. Eifert became a red zone target for Dalton, which is normally the role Green had by himself. With Eifert likely to miss significant time, that is only going to open the door further for Green to be dominant in 2016.

It remains to be seen what A.J. Green does this season, but he shouldn’t finish any worse than he did last year, which was 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. In my opinion, AJ Green should be the fourth wide receiver off the board when draft season kicks into gear, and he could return the value of the #1 receiver in fantasy football.

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