After being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green made good on his high draft position with a Pro Bowl-caliber year. The Bengals also rebounded to make the playoffs after a 4-12 season the year before.
Heading into his sophomore NFL season, Green is projected as a top-10 fantasy receiver in 2012.
In the following slides, we'll break down five reasons to take Green in your fantasy draft.
You expect production out of the fourth pick in any draft, but Green fulfilled that premise, and more, during 2011.
In 16 games last season, Green caught 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. He had eight weeks with at least 80 yards receiving, and in four games he didn't crack 80, he caught at least one touchdown. In only four games was Green kept without 80 yards or at least one score, and two of those games came against the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
Overall, you rarely see production as consistent as Green gave during his rookie season. In fantasy football, consistency is a valuable asset.
In most fantasy drafts, Green is getting sandwiched in between the likes of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones. However, only Green can claim to be his team's clear No. 1 receiver.
While Cruz and Nicks may alternate that role, Nelson (Greg Jennings) and Jones (Roddy White) both have legitimate No. 1 receivers taking away targets. Green doesn't face that quandary in Cincinnati.
The Bengals have some emerging options behind Green, but there's no question that he'll be the top dog in Cincinnati in terms of targets, both inside the 20-yard line and out. For a receiver as talented as Green, targets will almost always equal production.
When assessing any fantasy receiver, it's worth taking a look at the quarterback position. Of course, the receiver position is one of the few in football who's entire job depends mostly on the quarterback.
Cincy's 2011 second-round pick Andy Dalton is no Aaron Rodgers, but he proved to be plenty capable of delivering the football during his rookie season. There's always the chance of a sophomore slump, but it might be safe to expect Dalton to improve on his stat line of 3,398 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions next season.
Another year of getting the chemistry down with Green should be one factor in that improvement, but the two already showed in 2011 that there's something cooking here.
Receiving talents can come and go in the NFL, but Green appears to have the size and speed makeup to remain fantasy relevant for a long time.
At 6'4", Green is a handful in the red zone, and he's an elite jumper on top of that size. And while Green caught just seven touchdowns last season, that total could go up as he gets more chances inside the 20-yard line.
The speed is also there, which—when combined with his height—should keep Green in the discussion as one of the more dangerous downfield threats. Dalton doesn't have a big arm in terms of throwing the deep ball, but it's plenty strong enough for teams to worry about Green blowing the lid off of a defense.
Overall, the skill package for Green is elite, even in NFL terms. As long as there's no injury, he should be a top fantasy option.
As we alluded to before, Green is being drafted with the likes of Cruz, Nicks, Nelson and Jones in most fantasy drafts. According to ESPN, Green's average draft position (ADP) is a reasonable 29.4.
At that point in almost any draft, Green is going to be worth the pick. There should be little hesitation in taking him there if Green is still on the board in your draft.