Saturday, December 8, 2012

A.J. Green vs Megatron: Who's the Best Fantasy WR?

By Pat Donnelly (@legendonnelly)
Fantasy Football Staff Writer 

Megatron has been dominating the NFL since he broke onto the scene as the Lions’ 2nd overall pick in 2007. Last season, he blew every other WR out of the water en route to a 98-catch, 1681-yard, 16-TD season. One could argue that on talent alone that Larry Fitzgerald presented a threat as the NFL’s best WR, but without a serviceable QB to throw him the ball, it was clear that Calvin Johnson entered the 2012 fantasy football season as the clear cut first WR off the board and in a league of his own. However, this year we've seen the emergence of a star in the AFC North, and a new challenger to the top WR crown: A.J. Green.

With Megatron's slow start, it looked as though the Madden Curse was taking its toll and he was in for a slow year. Partly due to Matt Stafford’s struggles to start the year, Megatron was racking up the catches and the yards, but lacked the TDs (only 1 TD after Week 9). In the past 4 games, Megatron has recorded at least 140 yards and a TD in each game, propelling him back to the top tier of fantasy wide receivers.

Meanwhile, A.J. Green (76/1107/10 in 12 games this season) has posted double digit fantasy points in all but three games on the season, and strung together an amazing stretch of 9 straight games with a TD, solidifying himself as the best up and coming WR in only his second NFL season. In the last 2 games, he hasn't been able to find the end zone, but still putting up a respectable 3 catches for 111 yards, and 9 catches for 85 yards. These two studs have been the best overall receivers this year and they show no signs of slowing down.

Megatron has a new challenger as the best fantasy WR in the form of 2nd year standout A.J. Green

So who’s the best overall fantasy WR?

Well, Megatron (86/1428/5) has more catches, targets and yards than Green (76/1107/10), but Green has more fantasy points on the season because of his 10-5 TD advantage. Both of these studs are the top receiving option on their respective teams, and they are clearly the favorite targets for Dalton and Stafford. Megatron and Green both have posted at least twice as many receiving yards than any other passing option on their teams which goes to show you how good these two players are and how much they mean to their respective offenses.

Let’s dive in the stats to see how Megatron and Green stack up in both standard leagues and PPR leagues. In deep targets (passes of at least 15 yards down field) Megatron leads Green 54 to 40. Megatron also has the advantage in 20+ yard plays, 25 to 14 over Green. Megatron has had 5 straight years of at least 130 targets and that consistency makes him extremely reliable year to year. Green has only been in the league two seasons, but was targeted 116 last year and has already smashed that this season with 126 through 12 games. Green and Dalton as well as their chemistry will only continue to improve and in turn, we may only be scratching the surface of what A.J. Green is capable of as a fantasy WR. Facing Pittsburgh and Baltimore each twice a year may diminish some of Green's value, but those defenses are aging and we will get to see what Green can do against them at the end of this season.

Overall, it’s easy to say that Megatron is better, but there's a legitimate argument to consider Green in the same league as Megatron. In a PPR league, it’s a no brainer for Megatron as Green is not yet a perennial 100 catch WR like Megatron (although one could make the argument for Brandon Marshall over both of them). In standard leagues, I like Megatron more the rest of the season because of his recent hot streak and the fact that Titus Young and Ryan Broyles are both on injured reserve, leaving Stafford with no choice but to target Megatron early and often.

Even in Green’s breakout season, Megatron is on pace to post 1904 receiving yards (428 more than Green). Touchdowns fluctuate greatly year to year, and therefore, for next year, I have to stick with Megatron as I expect the difference in TDs to even out. Both of these guys should be in the top 15 next year and should have huge seasons again, but if I had to choose one in the 2013 draft give me Megatron again as the first WR off the board.

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