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A.J. Green in elite tier of NFL fantasy football players for 2016

A.J. Green should be right there near the top when you need a wide receiver in fantasy football after being so-so a lot in 2015.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It won't be long until we're all hitting the 'draft' button in our fantasy football leagues.

When it comes time to take a wide receiver, there's no question A.J. Green should be at or near the top of the list for guys you want to hit 'draft' for. The Bengals' Pro Bowl receiver is easily one of the best pass-catchers in the game, not to mention someone who's routinely rewarded those who've had him on their fantasy team.

That's why NFL.com's Matt Harmon, also the creator of Reception Perception, included Green in his 'elite' tier of receivers in fantasy football. However, Harmon notes that Green wasn't always the most reliable producer in 2015, which led to more dud performances than you'd like to see your top receiver put up, even though he was moneyin many weeks.

Green was a weekly WR1 five times, but a WR3 or worse 10 times. In six out of those 10 weeks, he scored in the single-digits for standard leagues.

While those numbers don't conjure up fond memories, let's make sure to cast no blame toward the Pro Bowl wide receiver. Green's 2015 Reception Perception sample showed he was as good as ever in his fifth NFL season. He posted a 71.8 percent success rate versus man coverage and a 77.8 percent versus press. Both figures place him within the top-10 for 2015. He also came down with 88.9 percent of his contested catch attempts, which is the second highest conversion rate in the series' history.

The problem with Green last year was the Bengals had so many pass-catchers in their offense that they could put up 30+ points per game without Green hardly touching the ball. Between Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Giovani Bernard, there were just too many weapons to keep everyone fed each week, so it really wasn't a surprise whenever Green put up a subpar five-catch, 50-yard game.

As Harmon notes, Jones and Sanu being gone should help Green's targets-per-game percentage take a significant jump in 2016 after he was targeted just 132 times in 2015.

A.J. Green should once again get back to the 30 percent market share, 160-plus target range. When he accomplished that feat in 2012 and 2013, he finished as a top-four receiver in fantasy. The stars are aligning for Green to return to the level of elite scoring receivers in 2016, and it feels painfully familiar to the way Julio Jones jumped into that group last year.

It also should be noted that in 2014, the Bengals became a run-heavy offense with Green missing or limited in several games, so that 9.0 targets per game would have been more like the 2012-13 marks if he'd been healthy.

Also, another reason why Green's 2015 numbers dropped was because AJ McCarron had to play in the final four games of the regular season. Green was targeted an average of 6.5 times in those four contests.

All of this is a great reminder why Green should be one of, if not the first player you take in your fantasy league drafts, depending on what spot you're in for drafting in the first and second rounds.