• Shane Palma

It Ain't Easy Being (AJ) Green

Updated: Mar 8

(Photo Credit: Sam Greene)

Free agency in the National Football League is a great opportunity for many players to get a fresh start.

In some cases, it could be a wide receiver's last chance to salvage the playing time they have left, while a career rejuvenation could be in order for certain guys after a down season. Or in this instance, both.

Sometimes change is a good thing. And I believe A.J. Green will once again hold fantasy value after moving on from the Cincinnati Bengals.

After missing the entirety of the 2019 NFL season due to an ankle injury, A.J. Green returned to the Bengals in 2020 and played in every single game. Despite signs of deterioration over the past few years, Green was the 28th WR taken in drafts heading into this past season. That typically made him the 69th overall player taken in PPR (points per reception) scoring based on average draft position.

Flashback to 2015 and fantasy managers would be getting an absolute steal out of Green’s price point, especially given the fact that he managed to remain healthy. However, the Bengals made it clear that the future is now after selecting WR Tee Higgins with the 33rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Despite becoming the third option for quarterback Joe Burrow, Green managed 104 targets and played a team high 76% of the team’s offensive snaps this season.

Fantastic, right?

Well for comparison purposes, let’s look at Green next to the up-and-coming WR A.J. Brown on the Tennessee Titans

Brown saw 106 targets in 2020 and played 81% of the team’s offensive snaps, very similar to Green. Yet Brown finished the year as the WR11 in PPR while Green was the WR68, a pretty sizable difference. And while yes, you can point to Brown’s 11 touchdowns and say “That’s why,” in my opinion it comes down to the catches. Brown had 70 and Green had 47.

If Green was given more of a chance to catch some of the balls thrown his way, and dare I say it, had a better QB under center, he could’ve been fantasy relevant. no, that is not a knock on Joe Burrow. That’s just how the start of some rookie seasons go.

If Green signs with a proven QB this offseason, he could uphold top-30 value. He hasn’t lost a step, he just needs to land on his feet elsewhere.

Kansas City Chiefs

This would be an absolute dream. Even if Green was once again the third option behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes would be his quarterback. Sammy Watkins was a mediocre WR2 at best and is set to become an unrestricted free agent as well. Even at age 33, Green can serve as yet another red zone threat for this lethal Chiefs offense. A move to Kansas City would certainly boost him up draft boards, but I feel like the price would be low enough to still consider Green a steal

Baltimore Ravens

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is not a No. 1 wide receiver. On any team. Plain and simple. If the Ravens want to be taken seriously in the AFC, they will need to add not just one, but two legitimate weapons for Lamar Jackson. And while A.J. Green is certainly not a game changing option like other UFAs Kenny Golladay or Chris Godwin, he’s the perfect fit. Fantasy owners might view Green as an instant replacement for Ravens WR Dez Bryant, who didn’t contribute much this season, but Green still has a bit more left in the tank.

Green Bay Packers

Unlike the New York Jets or Jacksonville Jaguars, the trend you’re seeing with these teams are legitimate playoff contenders. I can’t envision Green ending up somewhere he doesn't believe could win a ring in the next year or two. That’s why the Green Bay Packers make so much sense. Last year in the NFL Draft, the Packers opted to choose both a QB and RB. Not the brightest move by a team desperate for a number two receiver, but that’s where A.J. Green can step in. Davante Adams is the best receiver in the NFL, but Green drawing coverage from him in the end zone could make Adams even better. Fantasy’s No.1 receiver will most likely see a dip in his red zone targets 27 in 2020, but both men could produce some fantasy fireworks.

Where do you see AJ Green landing once free agency opens on March 17th? Leave a comment below and stay tuned for more coverage of the top players available this offseason.

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