The Dynasty Duel: AJ Green VS. Calvin Johnson
By Brian Luzier (@TheFFBoss)
*This is one of two parts to this article. Both parts air simultaneously but support different viewpoints on the same debate. This week I will support Calvin Johnson, while Zach Bowers’ (@DynastyFF365) article supporting AJ Green can be found here*
Last time Zach and I got our debate on by presenting our arguments for who we view as a better value: Jordy Nelson or James Jones. If you haven’t checked them out I’d encourage you to do so after how James and Jordy have started the season.
This time around we’ll be debating two more receivers in Calvin Johnson and AJ Green. I’ve found most people are rather opinionated when it comes to the top of their wide receiver rankings and I’m no different.
Don’t get me wrong- if you miss out on Megatron, AJ Green is a very nice consolation prize but the drop-off is quite large. It is rare for a single player to be at the top of his position for so many years running, and up until AJG it wasn’t much of a discussion.
To begin, I’d like to rule out any possible shenanigans by Zach about the “perceived value” of the two. With an ADP of 1.04 according to DFW’s ADP data, there’s a minimal difference between where Calvin is drafted and where AJ is drafted at 1.08. When it comes do drafting these two you must secure an early draft slot in a startup to snag one of these players, and you’d be lucky to acquire one in an established league for less than a king’s ransom- they’re both “untouchables”.
So, if they both have the same price tag, how can we determine who you should prefer? Let’s dig into the numbers.
Using numberFire’s Net Expected Point (NEP) data from both receivers first two seasons we can draw some interesting comparisons. NEP is a measure of how many “real” points a player brings to the table for their NFL team and is a great barometer for how helpful and effective a player is.
Looking at their first two seasons its truly amazing how quickly these players made an impact for their NFL teams. You can see that AJG received more targets in his first seasons, primarily out of necessity. Fortunately AJ was pro-ready out of the gate and was able to seize the opportunity presented to him, and a perfect storm ensued. AJ had a quarterback in Dalton who was good enough to deliver catchable balls, but not so good he could effectively spread the ball around. Green was also the only real option the Ginga Ninja had outside of Gresham.
Looking at Detroits team in 2007 you’ll see that Jon Kitna was the leading the team, throwing for just over 4000 yards, 18 TDs and 20 INTs. The targets were dispersed with receivers Shaun McDonald, Roy Williams, and Mike Furrey all catching over 60 balls.
Moving to 2008, you’ll notice a 3 headed monster at QB of Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna, and Daunte Culpepper. Between these three QBs Calvin managed to catch 78 balls for 1331 yards and 12 TDs. He was the focal point of the Lions attack, but it simply wasn’t enough. The Lions went 0-16 and secured the top overall pick where they took Matt Stafford. Ever since then, Calvin has been a force to be reckoned with.
If you need any extra motivation to hop on Calvin, check out Sports Science’s segment on what a freak Calvin is:
When looking at the surrounding cast, it’s easy to choose Calvin, too. Personally, I prefer Stafford over Dalton and I don’t think it’s close. As far as secondary receivers, Calvin’s only competition for targets so far has been the running backs- Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. AJ has to deal with Dalton’s failed attempt of spreadnig the ball between Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, and whatever secondary receiver the Bengals have game planned for, a constantly revolving door featuring Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Brandon Tate.
Neither team has a particularly effective running game, though the Law Firm has been known to vulture touchdowns occasionally, AJG has been quite effective in the red zone, whereas Calvin has consistently fallen short of reaching the promised land. In 2012 he got tackled inside the 1 FIVE times, and it’s already happened once this year, as well as having a touchdown called back for “The Calvin Rule”- something about possessing the ball in the end zone through the catch and jealousy over Calvin’s insane skill set.
The one stat in which I prefer AJ Green is the “age” category. It’s hard to argue that 3 years isn’t a long time in the NFL and in dynasty leagues, but I like having established players, and to me, you can’t get more established then Mr. Johnson.
There you have it, be sure to check out Zach’s attempt to brainwash you here.