Draft Day Decision: Is There Too Much Risk To Select A.J. Green?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know that A.J. Green is one of the elite wide receivers in the game.  He’s coming off a year where he posted 98 receptions for 1,426 yards and 11 TD, nearly identical to the numbers he posted in his sophomore campaign (97/1,350/11).  Is there any reason to think that he can’t reach those numbers once again?

It’s hard to imagine him dropping significantly, though there has been a change in offensive coordinator.  Out is Jay Gruden, who left town in favor of becoming the head coach in Washington.  Replacing him is Hue Jackson, who was on the staff in 2013 as running backs coach.  People will point towards him as a run oriented coordinator, thanks to his year in Oakland as offensive coordinator back in 2010 (when Darren McFadden thrived).

Upon Jackson’s hire ESPN took a look at his playing call across four years as offensive coordinator (Washington in 2003, Atlanta in 2007 and Oakland in 2010-2011) and compared them to Cincinnati’s from 2013 (click here for the article) and the results are telling:

Jackson’s Time As OC:
Pass attempts per game: 32.8 
Rushes per game: 27.8 
Rushing yards per carry: 4.3

Cincinnati in 2013:
Pass attempts per game: 34.0
Rushes per game: 28.5
Rushing yards per carry: 3.86

There’s no question that the Bengals could be more run oriented this season, using the emerging Giovani Bernard and the newly drafted Jeremy Hill.  That said Jackson’s success hasn’t come from running the ball significantly more than they did last season, it’s been that his running backs have simply been more successful in their opportunities.

In the same article Jackson himself was quoted in regards to the passing game saying:

“We have some very talented players on the outside,” Jackson continued. “We have to give them opportunities to make plays. We’re not going to shy away from having to throw it when we need to. But in order to win and be a very good offensive football team, you have to be able to run the ball, and that’s going to be a starting point for us.”

You also have the contract the team gave to its quarterback in the offseason.  Dalton recently signed a 6 year, $115 million contract to guide the offense to the promised land.  The contract obviously isn’t fully guaranteed and he needs to earn a lot of that money after the first year or two (it’s been dubbed a “pay as you go” contract), but it’s clear they have at least some faith in him.

When you put it all together there’s no reason to think that Green is suddenly going to be ignored and regress into the 80-85 catch range.  He’s proven that he can produce like one of the elite receivers in the game and should be there once again in 2014.  A borderline first round draft pick, he’s not some to bypass early in the second round.

Sources – ESPN

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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings:

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