Can you really send fantasy football’s seventh-best receiver this season to the bench in Week 10?
If I’m an A.J. Green owner, and I am in one league, I am really, really considering doing just that.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ rookie receiver, along with his rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, will be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Dick LeBeau-led defense for the first time together.
Pittsburgh, against fantasy receivers overall, is the third-best team in the league at defending them. Only six touchdowns (T-8th), 92 catches (11th) and 985 yards (4th) have been surrendered by the Steelers to receivers through nine games. No receiver has eclipsed 88 yards and no receiver has had multiple-TD games.
Here’s the kind of days the most-targeted receiver on the opposing team had against Pittsburgh.
Week 1: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore - Seven targets, four catches, 74 yards, 1 TD
Week 2: Ben Obomanu, Seatte - Six targets, four catches, 35 yards
Week 3: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis - 13 targets, three catches, 24 yards
Week 4: Andre Johnson, Houston - Five targets, four catches, 36 yards
Week 5: Damian Williams, Tennessee - 11 targets, six catches, 66 yards, 1 TD
Week 6: Mike Thomas, Jacksonville - Six targets, four catches, 36 yards
Week 7: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona - 10 targets, four catches, 78 yards
Week 8: Wes Welker, New England - Six catches, 39 yards
Week 9: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore - 10 targets, seven catches, 88 yards
All told: 74 targets, 42 catches, 476 yards, two touchdowns (Average: 8.2 targets, 4.6 catches, 52.8 yards, .2 TD)
Green is easily the most-targeted receiver for the Bengals with 65, 12 ahead of Jerome Simpson for Cincinnati. Green has caught 40 of those for 599 yards and five touchdowns.
In Athlon’s half-PPR scoring format, the most targeted receiver averages an 8.7-point fantasy day against Pittsburgh.
And these are just Pittsburgh stats against receivers as a whole. When you break down what defensive back Ike Taylor has done against receivers, it’s even more statistical proof that you might want to find another option not named A.J. Green.
Taylor has been thrown at 56 times this season and allowed just 20 catches (35.7 percent catch rate) for 211 yards and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. The 6-1, nine-year veteran was even stronger up until two weeks ago. He had allowed eight catches against 38 times being thrown at before back-to-back games of allowing six catches apiece on eight and 10 targets. Overall this season, in Athlon’s half-PPR format, receivers are averaging 2.2 catches, 23.4 yards and .1 TD for a 3.5-point fantasy effort.
Any given Sunday, right? But through nine weeks thus far, Taylor has been Revis and Asomugha like. Revis has been thrown at 39 times, given up 13 catches (33.3 percent catch rate) for 204 yards and no scores. Asomugha has been thrown at 24 times, given up 13 catches (54.2 percent catch rate) for 209 yards and one TD.
A LeBeau-led defense, a rookie QB and the play of Ike Taylor will have me leaving Green on the bench this weekend. Be thankful for what you’ve been able to get from Green thus far and will continue to get, but keep in mind that he did have an ADP of 93.5 from over 4,200 MyFantasyLeague.com drafts. You should have better receivers ahead of him, and everything he gives you from here on out is gravy.
But hold the gravy this week.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter