1 vs 1 WR Edition: AJ Green Vs Dez Bryant
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted players putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as quality of quarterback, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, team passing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, target percentage, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two immensely talented veteran wide receivers in A.J. Green and Dez Bryant.
Both of these wide receivers ended up having down 2016 seasons due to battling injuries and missing extended periods of time. Green only played in nine games last season but still managed to catch 66 passes for 964 yards and 4 touchdowns on 100 targets, for a 14.6 yard per reception average. Bryant played in 12 games last season hauling in 50 passes for 796 yards and 8 touchdowns on 96 targets, averaging 15.9 yards per reception. Green came out on top in PFF grading with an 89.4 grade which was 4th among wide receivers, Bryant wasn't too far behind at 10th with an 86.3 grade. I have Green ranked as my 7th wide receiver and Dez as my 12th. As far as the quarterbacks who throw these two talented wide receivers the ball, they appear to have different career trajectories at this point. While Dalton doesn't seem like he's ever going to take that next step and join the group of top tier quarterbacks, Dak Prescott has gone from draft after thought to superstar in a matter of months after his incredible rookie season. PFF graded Prescott as their 10th best quarterback with an 84.4 grade, compared to Dalton being their 17th quarterback with an 80.8 grade. I also have a significant gap between these two quarterbacks with Dalton ranked as my number 18 QB, and Prescott ranked 10th. Advantage: Green
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, these two wide receivers have a lot of similarities. Green is slightly older than Bryant having turned 29 in July and Bryant not turning 29 until November, thankfully to this point neither player has shown any signs of slowing down. Green is taller than Bryant is being listed 6'4 compared to Dez who is listed at 6'2, but Bryant is the heavier of the two as he plays at 220 pounds and Green is currently listed at 210 pounds. Both receivers had impressive combines, or in Bryants case pro day, Green ran the 40 in 4.50, had a 126 inch broad jump, and a 34.5 inch vert. Bryant missed the 2010 combine due to a hamstring injury, and at his pro day ran a 4.52 40, had a huge 133 inch broad jump and a 38 inch vertical. Green was drafted higher than Bryant was as the Bengals used the 4th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft to select him, although Bryant was also a 1st round draft pick being selected by the Cowboys 24th overall in the 2010 draft. Advantage: Green
Now lets take a look at these two from more of a team perspective, looking at each teams passing attempts, completion percentage, successful play rate, and teams passing play percentage. In 2016 Cincinnati threw the ball 563 times, completing 64.7% of those passes, with a 47% successful play rate, and passed on 57.5% of all offensive plays last season. Meanwhile Dallas had 483 pass attempts, with a 67.3% completion rate and a 56% successful play rate, the Cowboys passed a league low 51.3% of offensive plays last year. When it comes to Prescott and Dalton I definitely prefer Prescott, and it really isn't close. I know Dallas has been a run heavy offense in recent years but with Ezekiel Elliot facing a six game suspension, a significant turnover on that Dallas offensive line, and Prescott no longer being a rookie chances are they will be passing considerably more in 2017. Advantage: Bryant
Their snaps played last season were a bit skewed due to both players missing time with injuries, Green only played in nine games, and Bryant managed to play in a dozen games in 2016. Last year Green played 559 snaps, although he was on a nearly 1000 snap pace before going down with a season ending hamstring injury in week 11. When the teams total targets are pro rated down to the nine games Green played in, he had was an incredible 31.5% target share. Bryant played 751 snaps in his injury shortened 2016 campaign but when his 96 targets are projected out over a full 16 games he would have finished the season with 128 targets and a 26.5% target share. As far as the depth charts go behind these two stud wide receivers they are both fairly crowded, the Bengals main pass catchers behind Green are tightend Tyler Eiffert, runningback Giovanni Bernard, veteran wide receiver Brandon Lafell, second year slot receiver Tyler Boyd, as well as 2017 first round pick speedster John Ross, and 2017 second round pick the enigmatic runningback Joe Mixon. In Dallas Bryant will be sharing targets with Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, and Ezekiel Elliot, besides the starters nobody is a real threat for targets this season. Players also on the depth chart who may impact target share in the future are wide receivers Brice Butler, rookie Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown and tightend Rico Geathers. Despite both teams having crowded depth charts neither team has a wide receiver on their current roster who possesses the skill set to replace either Green or Bryant. That being said Cincinatti has used some serious draft capitol in the past two drafts on the skill postions drafting Boyd, Ross, and Mixon in the 1st and 2nd rounds. Advantage: Bryant
In this wide receiver comparison I'm giving the advantage to AJ Green, it was very close for me but I had to go with Green due to the fact he is the unquestioned centrepiece of the Bengals offense. Bryant is without a doubt the number one receiver in Dallas, but even with the predicted increase in passing attempts for the upcoming season, and the looming Elliot suspension I foresee the Cowboys still being a run first offense. Not too mention with no game changing runningback teams will be able to direct more defensive attention towards Dez. Winner AJ Green