By: Nick Sigman (Twitter: @NicSigman)
AJ Green vs Amari Cooper
AJ Green vs Amari Cooper: Part 2, By The Numbers
The Old and The New
Amari Cooper and AJ Green. According to Fantasypros.com’s dynasty rankings, Cooper is ranked at 8 and Green is ranked at 10 overall. So how does this happen? A 23 year old is ranked just two spots above a 29 year old with injury concerns. It’s also a tough dynasty football question to answer. How do you compare a young talent to an old reliable? I may not be able to answer that question, but I can give you some statistics to make that decision on your own.
Who is more Consistent?
As someone who owns Cooper in a couple leagues I’ve noticed that as the year goes on I can rely on him less and less. I hadn’t looked into that fact until now. Below I’ve charted out Cooper and Green’s average points per week over their NFL careers. You’ll notice there is only 15 weeks below. I removed the last week of the year which is rarely used in fantasy as well as the bye week. Keeping the bye week would only skew the numbers. I’ve also assigned a linear line of best fit so you can see that Cooper actually does indeed decline as the year progresses. Eyeballing it he regresses 6 points from the start of the year compared to the end of the year. That’s a large fall in points comparable to a touchdown reception a week. I have been able to find that Cooper tends to play through minor injuries that he accumulates through the year. Looking at last year he was questionable for the better part of the second half of the year. The could attribute to his lower average at the end of the year.
AJ Green on the other hand has been much more consistent over his career. You can see his line of best fit is almost flat, meaning he averages the same amount of points in the beginning of the year as he does near the end of the year. The line of best fit also shows us Green averages 2 points less at the end of the year compared to the beginning. As a side note I did not account for the weeks that Green did not play due to injury.
Also, because Green’s line of best fit is always higher than Cooper’s we can asses that Green has always scored more points than Cooper on average. The line of best fit is important to help show how reliable a player can be as the season progresses. Especially near the end of the year when a player needs to perform for the fantasy playoffs. In this category Green definitely wins. Maybe if Cooper took a week off to recover towards the end of the year his numbers would actually increase.
Competition on the Field
If you’ve paid attention to the Bengals and Raiders last year you can assess that one of these players has more competition on the field than the other, but let’s look into the numbers. Below I’ve plotted out two comparison graphs for AJ Green and Amari Cooper. The first shows the player’s target percentages. The second shows the total completed receptions per year. Obviously we have more data on AJ Green because he has been in the league 4 years longer.
You’ll notice that in 2016 Cooper overcomes Green in receptions and target percentage, but don’t get too excited for Cooper. Green missed out on 6 games last year. That’s over a third of the season. Actually every year Green has fallen below a 26% target percentage he has missed a game due to injury. Even with an injury, Green only comes in 4% lower than Cooper in target percentage. Cooper’s low target share can be attributed to a ball hawk in Oakland named Michael Crabtree who was targeted 26% of the time. He’s listed in Oakland as a WR2 but in fantasy he should be considered their #1 option for now. While Crabtree’s lined up alongside Cooper it’ll be hard for either to break the top five. Green on the other hand has no true competition. He’s the only real elite talent in Cincinnati.
Red Zone Threat
The last point I’m going to make deals with the big fantasy points. Touchdowns. Cooper just doesn’t compare. Even with Green missing out over a third of the year Cooper only scored one more touchdown than Green. He also hasn’t passed Green’s touchdown totals for any year prior to 2016. Some people may say that touchdowns are inconsistent from year to year, but looking at the graph below shows that the stat isn’t inconsistent for Green. When Green has played all 16 games he has scored 10 or 11 touchdowns. Cooper hasn’t passed 6 touchdowns in a season. That’s tough to overlook when comparing these two.
This is Dynasty Though
So how do you compare a 23 year to a 29 year old who is more productive? The best answer I can give you is…that depends. If you’re running at the championship you’re better off going with Green who has proven he can score the big points, and as far as stats go….he’s better. But if you want a good WR who will play for another 8-10 years at a high level I would take Cooper. I think we know what Cooper’s floor looks like, but I don’t think we’ve seen his ceiling yet.