Fantasy Football: A.J. Green & Why the 7th Pick is a No-Brainer

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The constant and growing rhetoric this offseason has been that the first 6 picks of your fantasy draft are pretty much predetermined and the real thought process starts at pick 7. We’re led to believe that after the Big 3 RB (Bell, Johnson, Elliott) and Big 3 WR (Brown, Beckham, Jones) you have a world of possibilities. Subscribing to this mindset greatly discounts what one, Adriel Jeremiah Green has done over his career in the NFL. Green’s current PPR ADP is 10th overall and it’s even worse in Standard leagues. Not only should A.J. Green be a given if you are drafting out of the 7 slot, he could end being the best value in the 1st round.

Find out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have A.J. Green ranked in their Top 200 rankings found in the Ultimate Draft Kit.

Green’s Fantasy Impact 2011-2016

Since entering the league as a high 1st round pick in 2011, Green has lived up to fans lofty expectations.

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Until last season, he had never finished outside of the WR2 ranks, even in his rookie year and a 12 game season.  Besides that rookie season, his fantasy points per game have always been in the WR1 ranks. If he plays 16 games he will be a WR1, just look at 2012, 2013, & 2015. But we all know that fantasy football is a “what have you done for me lately?” world. Let me tell you why 2016 isn’t as bad as you think.

Those new to fantasy football will see his low points and WR3 finish and think to steer clear of Green in 2017. Don’t be that guy/gal. Coming into Week 11, A.J. Green was one of the top fantasy WRs but his season was cut short by a hamstring tear. Looking at the games he did play, you get a WR that scored double digit fantasy points 80% of his games, was targeted at least 8 times in every game, and was averaging the highest yards-per-game of his career. His fantasy points-per-game in 2016 put him at the overall WR4. If Green never gets hurt last year, we’re not even having this discussion because he would probably be going behind only Antonio Brown among WRs. Don’t forget, Consistency Charts were added to the Ultimate Draft Kit this year, so you can see how Green and Brown finished week by week in 2016.

Getty Images Sport / Andrew Weber

2017 Outlook

Let me start by saying I am not going to predict an injury. Yes, hamstring injuries are always scary because of recurrence, but early reports have Green in excellent shape so I expect to see him at 100%. With that out of the way, there are many reasons to be excited for Green in 2017. To start, I want to go back to one stat from last year. Green was averaging 96 yards per game in 2016. If that carries over, he could end the season with over 1500 yards, something he has never done in his career, and a # that would have led the league last season. And it’s not like he was catching a lot more balls. His 6 catches per game were just over his career average. In other words, I think we will see his production remain at what it has been. The addition of notorious speedster John Ross should draw safety help safety’s away from Green, at least occasionally, and lead to more man coverage and big plays. Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception for Green shows that he is one of the best in the league vs. man coverage.

Competition for the 7th Pick

Hopefully, I’ve shown you why I am forecasting a great season for Green. Now, allow me to throw some shade at his competitors. Based on current ADP, 3 guys are going ahead of A.J. in that 7 spot. Let me tell you why you should not continue this mistake:

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  1.  LeSean McCoy Regression to the mean. Shady scored the 2nd most TDs of his career last year and has only had two top 10 seasons in the last 5. He is a great back but betting on another 14 TDs is setting the bar quite high. Is he a 1st round pick? Absolutely. Should he go before Green? Absolutely not.
  2.  Mike Evans I understand wanting to draft the WR that led the league in targets last year, I do. But the additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard should cut into Evans’ targets and if his catch % doesn’t improve, Evans could disappoint in 2017.
  3. Melvin Gordon Recency bias at it’s finest. While there is no way Gordon is as bad as he was his rookie year (RB49), until he shows me he can repeat a great season (like Green) I’m not taking him ahead of the man.

To top things off, Green’s standard ADP is nearly falling out of the 1st round.  There is no way you can convince me 11 guys have a brighter 2017 ahead of them than A.J. Green. The guys have him ranked as their consensus #5 WR. Time and time again we have been told: “The goal in the 1st round is to minimize risk.” At this point, I’m not sure any player not named Antonio Brown does that better than A.J. Green.

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