Value Check: A.J. Green

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The best time of the fantasy football season has finally arrived. That’s right, championships will be decided this weekend. With that in mind, the latest edition of my “Value Check” series will focus all attention on A.J. Green, as he has recently announced he will return in Week 16 from a lingering hamstring injury.

After Adrian Peterson’s uninspiring return to the gridiron last week, it is fair to wonder if A.J. Green can be trusted in lineups with fantasy titles at stake. After all, Green did suffer a Grade 2 hamstring tear, which has sidelined him since Week 11. It appeared as though Green had a legitimate chance to return last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers after limited participation in practice, but he was ultimately held out of action.

Now with Green saying he will play, fantasy owners need to decide whether or not to start him. Based on his track record and success in 2016, I believe that Green can be valued as a WR1 despite the possibility of his hamstring becoming reinjured.

Last week, the Cincinnati Bengals had to base Green’s availability on cold weather conditions. Fortunately, this week’s tilt with the Texans will be held in a warmer climate indoors at NRG Stadium. This should bode well for Green, as his hamstring is unlikely to act up due to temperature concerns.

Despite missing the past five weeks, Green still stands as the WR24 overall in PPR formats. Through only nine active games in 2016, he has managed to accumulate 66 receptions for 964 yards and 4 touchdowns. Over those contests, Green has eclipsed 100 yards receiving on four different occasions. In addition, he has earned no fewer than 8 targets in a game this season outside of his early departure in Week 11 against the Buffalo Bills.

Even with the Cincinnati Bengals out of the playoff picture in the AFC, Green is determined to hit a milestone in his career. Reference the table below for a glimpse at his career yardage totals, which will reveal the feat his is attempting to accomplish:

Year Receiving Yards
2011 1,057
2012 1,350
2013 1,426
2014 1,041
2015 1,297
2016 964

Remarkably, Green has reached 1,000 yards receiving in all five of his professional seasons to date. In order to do so for the sixth straight season, he will need to compile 36 yards receiving over the course of the next two weeks. According to ESPN, only Randy Moss has accomplished such a milestone.

With Green saying he’s been cleared for Saturday’s game, it will be extremely difficult to bench him. Even at less than 100 percent, he has the ability to produce at an elite level regardless of hamstring concerns. Before this season, Green has only missed four regular season games dating back to 2011. Simply put, his durability and proven consistency when on the field makes him a must-start with fantasy championships on the line.

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