NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: A.J. Green still prominent in Fantasy after Bengals use franchise tag on him

A.J. Green is staying in Cincinnati after the Bengals placed the franchise tag on him Monday. Now, we just have to make sure he plays in 2020.

Green, who turns 32 in July, said last season he didn’t want to play under the franchise tag. But after missing the 2019 campaign with an ankle injury, Green will hopefully show up for training camp and be ready to go.

The Bengals have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with Green, who will earn about $18 million in 2020 if he plays under the tag. For Fantasy managers, we just hope Green is back on the field.

He’s had a hard time staying healthy in recent years. Along with his lost year in 2019, he played just nine games in 2018 because of a toe injury and missed 10 games in 2016 due to a hamstring injury.

But Green is a star when healthy, and it should be fun to see him with what will likely be rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. The Bengals have the No. 1 selection in the NFL Draft, and they are expected to pick Burrow. Also, when Green does play, it will be the first time in coach Zac Taylor’s offense.

And Taylor said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February that he’s excited to coach Green this year.

“We want him to be a part of Cincinnati,” Taylor said. “He’s got a great history with the organization. He’s been a great member of the community, a great leader on our team. Even facing the adversity he faced the last year and a half, he’s been around in all the meetings. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know A.J. I look forward to coaching A.J. really for the first time going into next season. We’re still working through the process with him, but we know he’s going to be a Bengal come September. 

I’m expecting Green to do fine playing for Taylor and with Burrow. In 2018, he was on pace for 90 catches for 1,374 yards and 12 touchdowns after the first eight games of the season before the toe injury became a problem. He also had 75 catches for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.

We recently held a 12-team PPR mock draft, and Green went in Round 5. He was the No. 28 receiver off the board, and I expect him to go sooner than that if he shows up for training camp.

A good range for him is likely toward the end of Round 4, and he should be a potential top 20 receiver if healthy. He should have no problem developing a rapport with Burrow as the No. 1 receiver in this offense.

Now, there are plenty of mouths to feed in Cincinnati with Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Joe Mixon, and Green could be a little slower and less explosive at 32 and coming off a lost season. But in late Round 4, early Round 5, he’s well worth the gamble.

Hopefully, he stays healthy and is excited to play in Cincinnati, and he should give Fantasy managers at least one more season of quality production.

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