AJ McCarron, AJ Green 2015 Fantasy Outlook After Andy Dalton Injury

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2015

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) stands with quarterback AJ McCarron (5) during practice before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Frank Victores/Associated Press

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a fractured right thumb in Sunday's 33-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, which means the team's offense is likely primed for regression in the coming weeks. 

With the Bengals' Super Bowl hopes hanging in the balance, fantasy owners invested in Cincinnati's receiving corps need to hope backup quarterback AJ McCarron won't sink the stock of top-tier wideout A.J. Green

With the fantasy playoffs underway, here's a look at how owners should value the duo in the days ahead. 

AJ McCarron

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

McCarron entered Sunday's game against the Steelers with four NFL pass attempts to his name, so it's hard to gauge just how effective he'll be with a full plate of reps. 

That said, McCarron was solid in relief. Although he tossed two interceptions, McCarron completed 22-of-32 passes for 280 yards and two scores with the Bengals playing from behind. 

But regardless of how he comes along, it's safe to say the second-year signal-caller is a major downgrade compared to Dalton, especially with tight end Tyler Eifert ruled out Sunday due to a concussion, per the team's Twitter account

And while McCarron could have a tasty matchup against the San Francisco 49ers' 27th-ranked pass defense next week, it would be impossible to trust him over steadier quarterbacks still lingering on the waiver wire. 

According to ESPN, Tyrod Taylor, Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marcus Mariota are all owned in fewer than 70 percent of fantasy leagues.

Every single one of those players is a better alternative based on sample sizes alone, so if you can snag one of them, there's no reason to put your season in the hands of such an unproven player. 

A.J. Green

Frank Victores/Associated Press

Green is one of the league's elite receiving talents, and benching him in the weeks to come would be accompanied by some serious risk. 

While his ceiling is admittedly capped with McCarron is starting under center, Green has the raw skills necessary to produce so long as he sees a heavy dose of targets from the former Alabama quarterback. That much was clear when McCarron found his top receiver for a 66-yard touchdown in the second quarter as Green finished the day with six catches for 132 yards. 

However, Green is no longer a surefire WR1. He can be plugged in as a solid WR2 based on his physical capabilities, but owners can't expect tremendous upside like there was with Dalton calling the shots.