It’s the middle of the second round of your fantasy draft and you already landed a top running back in the first. You don’t want a quarterback, but you’re not a big fan of the running backs in this area. Time to go for a wide receiver. But which to take, A.J. Green or Alshon Jeffery? Both are young, big, downfield targets with knack for spectacular catches, but both come with a few question marks. It’s a tough choice for sure, so let’s break down the options.
The gut instinct is to go with Green, who has rapidly emerged as a superstar since being drafted 4th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and is widely regarded as the second best wide receiver in the NFL. Green set career highs with 98 receptions for 1,426 yards and 11 TDs last season, a follow up to a 2012 campaign that saw him catch 97 balls for 1,350 yards and 11 scores. Now that’s consistency at a high level. Green also finished third in the NFL in targets last season, and volume is always a positive in fantasy football.
On the other hand is Jeffery, who enjoyed a monster breakout season in his second year, catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards and 7 TDs while establishing himself as arguably the best red zone target in the NFL this side of Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham. There is no jump ball Jeffery can’t win, and the Chicago Bears are more than happy to throw him plenty. Going into his second season, it seems likely that Jeffery will crack the double digit touchdown barrier.
There are a few other key factors to consider. For Green, the lack of an established second receiver is both a blessing and a curse. It is a huge reason why he receives so many targets, but it also allows defenses to double and triple team him. This hasn’t slowed Green down yet, but Jeffery is never going to face the same defenses as long he has Brandon Marshall on the other side of the formation. The teams attempted nearly the same number of passes last season (587 for the Bengals, 579 for the Bears), but Green received 180 targets to Jeffery’s 150.
On the other hand, Jeffery has Jay Cutler throwing to him, a deep ball specialist and all around better quarterback than Andy Dalton. The Bengals also lost offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to the Washington Redskins, and new coordinator Hue Jackson has indicated he would like to run more with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Bears head coach Marc Trestman is more inclined to lean on the passing game, though the Bears will certainly make sure Matt Forte gets plenty of carries.
So we know that both Green and Jeffery will be heavily targeted players in fairly balanced offenses with average to above average quarterback play. Both should rack up touchdowns due to their size, red zone prowess, and deep ball ability, while both look like they will only continue to get better. So what’s the deciding factor? For me, it’s the fact that Green has three seasons of serious production to Jeffery’s one, and that he will likely finish in the top three in targets. When you match that kind of volume with Green’s talent and track record, it’s hard to pick against him. Jeffery is a great option in fantasy this season, but Green is a better one.
Verdict: A.J. Green