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Player Spotlight: A. J. Green

A detailed look at A. J. Green's fantasy prospects for 2013

Setting the Stage

Adriel Jeremiah (A. J.) Green was born in Summerville, South Carolina, and played both basketball and football for the Summerville Green Wave. Green started four years and totaled over 270 receptions for 5,300 yards and 53 TDs. He made All-State in South Carolina all four years. He was universally ranked as a five-star wide receiver and among the top ten players nationally his senior season. He verbally committed early to attend Georgia and followed through with that commitment.

He never missed a beat at Georgia, where he had three straight successful seasons. He totaled 166 catches for 2,619 yards and 23 TDs for the Bulldogs. He declared for the 2011 NFL Draft following his junior season. His numbers there were decent, but not noteworthy. Eleven wide receivers ran faster than his 4.50 forty-yard dash. He managed only 34 ½ “ vertical and 10-foot 6” on the broad jump. Nonetheless, he remained likely to be the first or second wide receiver drafted, along with Julio Jones.

Green was selected at 4th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, the first wide receiver drafted, and two spots ahead of Julio Jones. Jones cost the Falcons quite a bit more than Green though, as they traded five picks (2011 1st, 2nd & 4th and 2012 1st & 2nd) to Cleveland for that sixth overall pick.

Green has produced for Cincinnati in the NFL, just like he did in high school and at Georgia, doing well from the start. In only his second game, Green caught 10 passes for 124 yards and a TD against Denver and he has been a consistent producer ever since. He is generally considered among the top five wide receivers in the NFL today and has some backing as the best.

His career stats are provided below.

Year Gms Rush Yds ypr TDs Targ Rec Yds ypc TDs
2011 15 5 53 10.6 0 127 65 1,057 16.3 7
2012 16 4 38 9.5 0 176 97 1,350 13.9 11
Totals 31 9 91 10.1 0 303 162 2,407 14.9 18

Looking Forward to 2013

The team returns their coaching staff intact from last year. Their offensive play-makers are mostly young and have been growing together. Andy Dalton (25) will be starting for his third year, as will A.J. Green (24). Their wide receiver depth (Mohamed Sanu, 23, Marvin Jones 23 and rookie Cobi Hamilton 23) are growing into the offense together. Their starting running back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the old man in the group at 28, but even he is in only his second year with the team. The Bengals added Giovani Bernard (21) with their early 2nd round pick. Bernard was considered one of the top running backs in this year’s draft. Jermaine Gresham at tight end is 25 and entering his fourth season and the team added 1st round selection Tyler Eifert (22) with the 21st overall pick to potentially play in double tight end packages.

The Bengals have a very good offensive line, especially on the right side. They also have some of the best talent as depth for the offensive line starters. The team ranked 22nd last year in yards per game with 332.7 yards, but a little better than that at 21st in yards per play with 5.2. They were also opportunistic as they ranked 12th in scoring at 24.4 points per game. With the stability of having so many players returning to their same position with the same coaching staff and philosophy, they seem poised to improve in 2013, even without considering their two highly regarded rookies, Eifert and Bernard.

Green ranked #5 in the NFL a year ago in targets among wide receivers and #6 in receptions with 97. Even with adding two dynamic rookies, Green will remain the clear favorite target of Andy Dalton and could possibly operate with slightly less attention, particularly if the two tight end sets are productive.

Positives

  • Green has excellent rapport with quarterback Andy Dalton, who is not afraid to throw it to Green even when he is covered
  • Green is a gifted wide receiver, particularly in the red zone witnessed by his 8 red zone TDs in 2012 and his 18 total TDs over his two NFL seasons
  • Improved offensive line play and improved weapons for the offense should provide occasional opportunities for single coverage where he will dominate

Negatives

  • The addition of Bernard and the offensive line might improve the running game efficiency which could decrease Green’s number of targets
  • An improved defense (ranked 27th in yard given up per game in 2012 might lead to more conservative offense

Projections

  Gms Rush Yds ypr TDs Rec Yds ypc TDs
David Dodds 16 3 21 7.0 0 95 1,330 14.0 11
Bob Henry 15 4 35 8.8 0 95 1,370 14.4 10
Jason Wood 16 0 0 0.0 0 99 1,450 14.6 11
Maurile Tremblay 16 0 0 0.0 0 97 1,319 13.6 9
Stephen Holloway 16 4 35 8.8 0 100 1,400 14.0 10

Final Thoughts

Despite the lack of outstanding numbers posted by A. J. Green at the 2011 NFL Combine, there is little doubt that he is among the NFL’s best at the wide receiver position. As he and Dalton continue to grow, the production could improve from what has already been an impressive start on his NFL career. You can’t wait to select Green for your fantasy team in 2013 as he has an ADP of WR2 and 12 overall in both ppr and non-ppr scoring. Green definitely has a high floor and his ceiling depends on your perspective of the Bengals’ offense for 2013.

 


Other Viewpoints

Art Vandelay in the A. J. Green Spotlight Thread http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=683972&p=15747458

If there's one WR in real life or fantasy I would take starting a team today it's AJ Green. He is already the best in the league at adjusting to the ball in the air and is the premier deep threat in the game. He is surprisingly good after the catch for someone his size as well. He plays in a division that has a good defensive reputation but it is not what it used to be Polomalu and Reed are no longer there. He has an improving offense that should take the attention off him slightly and a QB who has faith in him to just chuck it up deep and know that AJ will come down with the ball. I am a Bengals fan and I have watched every game and AJ is the best WR in the league today including Calvin.

However.... Dalton is not the Red Rifle he's more of a Nerf Gun and can't consistently put the ball deep enough or accurately enough to give AJ a Chance to catch it or score after the catch with it. The Bengals also have a very good defense that won’t cause them to be throwing as often and from behind in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Lastly there are other options including two other Young WRs. Now Eifert and Gio so an insane amount of targets isn't likely. Still if there one player I want on a jump ball it's AJ and the Bengal should be in the redzone plenty.

Andrea Hangst from Bleacher Report http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1639695-have-the-bengals-added-enough-talent-to-earn-aj-green-1-on-1-matchups

A wide receiver—even one as naturally talented as Green—needs to be available to catch passes. Yes, Green—like his older contemporaries Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson—is prodigious in his ability to pull down completions even when double- and triple-covered (just look to his 2012 game summaries by FootballGuys.com for full details), but it's not safe for Dalton to continue to force passes to Green when he's covered by a cornerback (or two) and a safety at the same time.

With their first two selections in the draft, the Bengals added first tight end Tyler Eifert and then running back Giovani Bernard. While the latter was expected—even down to the player—to add a younger, speedier component to Green-Ellis' power running, the former was a bit of a surprise.

At first, the Eifert pick was chalked up to the Bengals managing to simply take the best player available, but afterward it appears this may have been a conscious plan and not just a happy aBut the biggest impact of drafting Eifert will be seen when he and Gresham are both on the field alongside Green, when the two tight ends can free up the Bengals' most dangerous receiving and scoring threat—as well as be threats in their own right.

Already, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has confirmed the team will be running a number of two-tight end sets beginning in 2013. We've seen this implemented successfully around the league already, with the New England Patriots the most glaring example of it. With tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on the field with (until now) Wes Welker as quarterback Tom Brady's primary receiver, the Patriots re-imagined the concept of a passing offense.

Ryan Hester on the Footballguys.com Cincinnati Bengals Team Report http://subscribers.footballguys.com/2013/13teamreport-cin.php

There are many superlatives that can be used to accurately describe A.J. Green. In his rookie season in 2011, he had 65 receptions/1,057 yards/7 touchdowns. From there, he took it up another notch in his 2012 season, racking up 97/1,350/11 totals. Green is as elite an athlete as there is in the NFL, and he doesn't rely solely on his athleticism. His technique is one to behold. There was a time last year where throwing him a back shoulder fade in the endzone was one of the most dangerous and effective plays in football. Green's size, speed, leaping ability, and hands are a rare combination.

 


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