Monday Meltdown: A.J. Green can’t do it alone

While A.J. Green and Andy Dalton have connected plenty this season, the results could be even greater if Cincinnati had more weapons to deflect attention from its top receiver.

Watching last night’s AFC North battle royale between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, one important detail made itself glaringly true: The Bengals are squandering the talents of A.J. Green by having no reasonable support around him.

This may sound odd, given that Green leads all wide receivers in standard scoring formats and is less than 50 points shy of matching his entire output from last season. But in facing Pittsburgh last night, it was clear that there was no one else on the field the Steelers were afraid of, leaving Green to see double teams the entire game. And yes, he has provided these points while being doubled through most of the season, but my main concern here is that he can’t sustain this level of output with Andy Dalton at the helm. To wit: Green was targeted a season-low six times last night, which tells me that Dalton does not have the gunslinging mentality to force the ball into tight coverage against savvy defensive units. This is where Calvin Johnson – the receiver Green is most often compared to – is able to flourish despite blanketed coverage, because his quarterback doesn’t mind taking chances.

Until Dalton develops that killer instinct, the Bengals would be wise to try and invest in another weapon this coming offseason. Clearly, Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins aren’t keeping opposing defensive coordinators up at night right now, which leaves Green in a feast or famine type situation.

And while this all may sound greedy, given Green’s gaudy numbers thus far, consider what he would be able to do with a Roddy White or Dwayne Bowe across the field from him, then get back to me. I’m pretty sure you’ll be too busy wiping the drool from your chin to think about calling me greedy anymore.

Other thoughts from the weekend that was…

What’s up with McFadden? DMC is currently averaging less than 10 fantasy points per game as the featured piece in an offense that boasts a veteran quarterback and speed receivers on the edges. So why the lack of production? Well, Carson Palmer isn’t the man he once was – he’s currently averaging 289 yards and 1.17 touchdowns per game – so there is no reason for defenses to concentrate all of their efforts on the dominant chess piece. Keep the faith, though: Three of his next four games are against teams that rank 22nd in the league or worse against the run. If he is still lagging after Week 11, you can officially cut bait.

Jennings, CJ0K become relevant again. With a damning injury of unknown severity to Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings – aka one of my preseason handcuffs to own – has vaulted back into the spotlight. Snag him this week if he is on the wire. Chris Johnson, meanwhile, has rattled off 62.7 fantasy points in his last four games. The man who was dead weight earlier this season has returned to the surface.

Weeden a bye week wonder? After starting off the season looking like the second coming of Blaine Gabbert, Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden has hit his stride. With 264 yards and two touchdowns yesterday (which should have been 319-3 if not for a Josh Gordon drop), Weeden is now the owner of 101.32 fantasy points, putting him higher than Matt Schaub and the aforementioned Palmer. Those looking for a deep sleeper in a coming bye week may be wise to give the old man a shot against middling San Diego and Baltimore secondaries.

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