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Buy or Bye: A.J. Green vs. Julian Edelman

Greetings, dynasty junkies! “Buy or Bye” is a little insight into my way of thinking about players and their values. The game of dynasty is a game of values. Knowing when to buy and when to sell is a crucial part of your squad’s short term and long term success. You can’t roster every player (believe me, I’ve tried!), and you only have a limited number of picks to trade, so deciding who to invest in, and when, is a critical part of the game. This series is about giving you the necessary facts to help make those tough decisions for your squad(s). In each article, I will take two similarly valued players in the dynasty community and discuss the key elements impacting their value and fantasy outlook. I have broken these down into sections or “rounds” to help us decide who is a BUY and who gets the good-BYE!

(courtesy of tenor.com)

Without any further adieu, let’s get to it! This first Battle Royale features Julian “Slottie-Pippen” Edelman vs. A.J. “All-The-Way” Green. A couple of aging vets that are most appealing to your “win-now” rosters.

Athletic Profile & Age

(images courtesy of playerprofiler.com)

As you can see, both players are in the latter stages of their careers (that’s putting it politely), and that’s about where the similarities end. A.J. Green is a big-bodied speedster with a massive catch radius and a nose for the end zone (63 career TDs to Edelman’s 42). Julian is a small, feisty slot maestro with great agility, high football IQ, and extreme toughness. Green is a little bit younger and has a more impressive athletic profile, so I would have to side with him on this one.

Round I: Green

Player Value/Cost:

According to June SuperFlex Dynasty Startup ADP (courtesy of Dynastytradecalculator.com)

  • Julian Edelman = 141.5 (11th round)
  • A.J. Green = 103 (8th round)

So you will have to pay up to draft Green in a startup, but what about trading for him?

Using DynastyGM (a fantastic new Dynasty Nerds tool that you NEED to check out!), you can see that Green also costs substantially more via trade. In a typical 12 team SuperFlex league, you can most likely get Edelman for a 3rd round pick plus a little extra. Green will probably cost you somewhere around a high 2nd (as a contender, it would most likely be your late 1st!). I have gathered a couple of examples of recent trades for these two hombres to validate this.

(images courtesy of dynastytradecalculator.com)

These examples aren’t guessing or projecting; these are some actual trades that went down in real leagues. Basically, Edelman is quite a bit cheaper than Green, and you could acquire him for the equivalent of some loose pocket change. You can’t argue that Edelman provides the better “value” in terms of what you have to give up to acquire him.

Round II: Edelman

Injury Risk:

The biggest concern with both of these players is their risk of missing games through injury. A.J. and Edelman have each missed an entire season through injury within the past three years. (YIKES!) Anytime that happens, a player can get hit with the “injury-prone” label. (With these two, I wouldn’t even necessarily say that it is an unfair label.) The thing about injuries is, they freak the life out of dynasty owners. It is easy to overreact to a nasty injury (or a few injuries, in their cases) and miss a great opportunity if you don’t focus solely on the facts and take the emotion out of it.

(image courtesy of sportsinjurypredictor.com)

After missing all of 2017 with a torn ACL, Edelman missed the first four games of 2018 due to a suspension (NOT injury). Edelman is always banged up and played through some moderately severe injuries down the stretch in 2019 but surprisingly hasn’t missed a game due to injury in two seasons! (I don’t know about you, but that surprised me!) Edelman’s “reputation” as a regularly injured player affected my perception of him more than the facts.

(image courtesy of sportsinjurypredictor.com)

Heading into the 2020 season, sportsinjurypredictor.com has Edelman as a Medium Risk with a 53% chance of injury and a projected 1.6 games missed.

(image courtesy of sportsinjurypredictor.com)

A.J.’s injury history, on the other hand, DID live up to the hype. In 2019 Green missed the entire campaign due to a high ankle sprain. (There were rumors he could have returned later in the season, but this did not happen.) Some believe he didn’t as the season was already a loss by the time he was healthy enough to play. The facts are, he did not play. If it was just because of injury, that is a concern when you see players like Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara being able to miss fewer games with similar injuries last year (albeit as somewhat younger players). Coupled with the fact that A.J. only managed eight full games in 2018 as well, now you REALLY got me sweating! By the time the 2020 campaign gets underway, we haven’t seen him playing at a high level in almost two years!

(image courtesy of sportsinjurypredictor.com)

Heading into this season, sportsinjurypredictor.com has Green as a HIGH risk with a 93% likelihood of injury and a projected 4.9 games missed!

Round III: Edelman

Production:

I want to take a look at what we have seen these guys produce for us in recent seasons for fantasy, especially in a (best-case scenario) full season.

Edelman:

In 2019 Edelman managed to play through his niggling injuries and rack up 100 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 6 TDs in a very lackluster Patriots offense.

A high volume of targets and a full complement of games from the PPR monster last season landed him as a WR1, he also finished as a WR2 in 2018 while only competing in 12 games!

Green:

The last full season we got of A.J. was 2017, where he finished with 75 receptions for just over 1,000 yards and 8 TDs. Interestingly, his 2017 season is similar to Edelman’s 2019 season when you break down the numbers.

  • Edelman = 153 targets vs 144 for A.J.
  • 6 TD vs 8
  • 7.3 yards/target vs 7.5
  • 1,117 receiving yards vs 1,078
  • 256.28 fantasy points vs. 226.05 (full ppr)

In his eight games played during 2018, Green was on pace for almost 1,400 yards and 12 TDs before he went down to injury. You don’t need to be a mathematician to realize he would have been a league winner IF he had stayed healthy. Honestly, I think that is the crux of the valuations; I believe a lot of owners are hoping for 2018 production in 2020. A big mistake many dynasty owners make is allowing themselves to project best-case scenarios as realistic expectations. (I call it Corey-Davis tinted glasses.) The ever-elusive what-IF!

We know Green is ELITE when healthy and on the field. We just don’t get to see that version of Green for a full season very often. (If you have rostered A.J. for the last couple of years, he has done NOTHING for you.) Edelman has contributed and potentially helped you win a ship or two in the past couple of seasons. For this reason, I have to side with Edelman on the production argument. Theoretical points don’t win you championships!

Round IV: Edelman

Fantasy Forecast:

Edelman:

Jules is without his life long bestie, for the first time in his Patriot career. He lost Tom Brady, and he now has a QB in Cam Newton that is almost the antithesis of Brady. I believe this is the most significant factor in his dynasty stock plummeting, that and age. (Dynasty owner’s HATE an aging WR!!!)

  • What if Cam doesn’t have good chemistry with the “The Squirrel”?
  • What if Cam favors N’Keal Harry as a big-bodied contested-catch monster of a safety blanket?
  • What if Cam just dumps the ball off to James White and runs a lot?

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, “what-ifs” can drive you crazy in dynasty if you let them. 

The truth is, none of us know what a Cam Newton led Patriots team will look like, so there IS a level of uncertainty; however when there is uncertainty, there is also opportunity! Uncertainty makes dynasty owners nervous, and when dynasty owners are nervous, they tend to panic and make bad decisions. This reality is probably a significant factor in the discount price for Edelman at the moment.

Instead of worrying ourselves sick at all the limitless negative possibilities, let’s take a quick look at some of the things we DO know about the upcoming season:

  • Edelman is the most experienced and tenured offensive weapon for the Patriots this year.
  • He has the trust of the OC Josh McDaniels and Head Coach Bill Belichik.
  • Cam has to throw the ball to someone.

Let’s play a game. Let’s say Cam throws the ball 500 times. Even if you expect a massive step forward from N’Keal Harry, you can’t give him more than 100 targets realistically. Let’s give 100 targets to James White….just for fun. Let’s play devil’s advocate and say Mohamed Sanu manages to earn 75 targets. Now I am going to give 50 targets to Jakobi Meyers, because I’m a nice guy. (Be honest, some of you didn’t remember Jakobi was a thing!) Give 50 more to the young TEs and guess what… that still leaves 125 targets…. You get my point. Edelman is there for a reason; he will get targeted, he will be valuable while he is healthy, at least in PPR leagues. Will he be a WR1 this year? I doubt it. Could he easily be a low-end WR2? Certainly. Is that still valuable for your fantasy roster? DEFINITELY!

Green:

Green is going into the 2020 campaign, having not played competitive football since week 11 of the 2018 season. This year, there won’t be any pre-season games to build up fitness and game sharpness because of Covid-19. This fact alone will significantly increase the potential for injury amongst all players, let alone aging players with a history of nagging injuries. A.J. also has a new QB to play with, and a rookie at that. We also have never seen A.J. play in the Zac Taylor offense, so we don’t know how it will look. As a talent, Green far surpasses Edelman, in my opinion. There are just too many red flags going into this season. You need a perfect storm for it to play out.

Even if everything plays out perfectly, there is a chance you just get Edelman’s 2019 production from Green. If you do manage to get a full WR1 season out of A.J. you better play the lottery cause you are one lucky so and so!!! Green has only completed an entire season twice in his last five years in the league!

Round V: Edelman

Verdict: Edelman Buy, Green Bye

Edelman has come out as the winner in a bit of a landslide here, with four out of the five rounds going to the Patriots go-to slot receiver.

  • More significant value (relative to cost)
  • More durability (in the battle of attrition between two titans of the IR)
  • More fantasy production in the last couple of years
  • Less uncertainty over his 2020 range of outcomes

Could A.J. Green stay healthy and ball out in 2020? ABSOLUTELY! Would he be the far superior asset on your team if this happened?! DEFINITELY! Do I personally believe this is a realistic expectation?! Not really. In dynasty, you need to try and gather all the facts, take emotion out of the decision, and give yourself the best shot at success by limiting your risk vs. your potential reward.

My Two Cents:

In this series, I want to peel back the curtains and have genuine, honest conversations about facts and values. It is easy to get emotionally invested in a particular player (BLAKE JARWIN SZN BABY!!!). It is also easy to allow real-life biases to play a significant role in forming your roster (I can’t STAND the Patriots in real life). That doesn’t mean that these are best practices. If you just want to play for fun and don’t care about winning, then, as you were. If you’re going to win regularly, you will need to let go of those emotions and be willing to buy or sell any player at the right price if it helps your squad!

As a genuine contender (I mean top 2 or 3 in your league according to the DynastyGM tool), I am hands down trying to get Edelman on my squad. It costs me far less, and the chances are much higher (in my opinion), that he consistently contributes to my team throughout 2020.

I would be interested in Green if I am just on the fringe of competing (maybe 4th or 5th according to DynastyGM in your league), and you need a boost to get you over the hump. If you are like me and always want to compete, I would take a chance and throw my 2nd at the dream of a monster resurgence in Cinci with Joe Burrow at the helm. If it did pay off, it could just put you over the top and get you there. Again, that is a risky proposition, and there are very few circumstances I am going that route.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to chat anything fantasy football related, hit me up on Twitter @FFEvanlution.

Until next time: keep learning, keep trading, and keep grinding!

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