As our own Nathan Beighle wrote last week, the Bengals’ receivers room has a bit of mid-2000s vibe to it nowadays, just with less fake nameplates and man buns. Instead of Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Whosyourmama, the less extravagant and equally effective duo of A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd spearhead the group of pass-catchers for quarterback Andy Dalton.
The state of receiver play in the NFL has never been as strong as it is today. We’ve gone from the rules making life easier for wideouts to lower-level coaches advising receivers to switch to cornerback due to the saturation of the talent pool. To be mentioned as one of the best receivers in the game in 2019 is more of honor than it was 10 years ago. To have your top two receivers included in the best tandems in the game is even more impressive.
Pro Football Focus released their top five pass-catching tandems this week. Here’s how the top four looked:
- Adam Thielen & Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
- Odell Beckham Jr. & Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
- Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
- Michael Thomas & Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Coming in at No. 5 was none other than the heavyweights of Cincinnati’s passing game.
5. A.J. GREEN & TYLER BOYD, CINCINNATI BENGALS
The duo of A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd made up one of the league’s top receiving tandems last year as the latter made his presence known with a breakout performance.
Before injury cut his season short, Green earned an impressive 84.9 receiving grade across 313 routes run. He also brought in 12-of-21 contested targets, and when he hauled in those contested passes, he was ripping off big gains at over 18 yards per reception. Green’s now earned an 80.0-plus receiving grade in every season after his rookie campaign in 2011.
In the nine games they played together in 2018, Boyd and Green each finished with a top-10 receiving grade and top-20 marks in yards per route run. The duo had 36 combined first-down and touchdown receptions to tie for eighth among receivers in those nine games, and Boyd actually led the league’s receivers who saw at least 45 targets in that span with a 134.1 passer rating when targeted.
For starters, the four duos ranked ahead of Green and Boyd are all formidable, and you could make an argument for each tandem them to placed at a different spot. It’s nearly completely objective at this point that Thielen and Diggs make the best pair of wide receivers in the league and their place at the top is more than fair. The others are very much up for debate.
Beckham Jr. and Green are very much in the same tier in regards to talent and production. Landry has a more proven track record when it comes to volume production and he handles his niche role extremely well, but is Landry > Boyd the clear consensus for folks outside of Cleveland? Probably not. Boyd has a great case going forward over Landry.
In Kansas City, they best tight end in the game in Kelce; that much is clear. Maybe that’s enough to put the duo of Hill and him over Cincinnati’s. Hill is more than just a deep threat and has grown into a complete receiver, and that’s all will say about him. Sure, this duo can keep its spot.
But is Hill even going to play this year?
Thomas and Kamara are so damn effective in the Saints’ offense it’s impossible to deny them a place in this list. Even when you consider how much Drew Brees’ brilliance impacts their production, their natural talent is evident. But Green has the argument of being a more well-rounded receiver than Thomas, and while Kamara is a fantastic receiver in his own right, Boyd’s ability down the field probably gives him the edge. This one is probably a toss up depending on who you ask.
Durability and consistency could very well be a factor working against Green and Boyd here. Green has missed 13 games since Boyd was drafted and Boyd’s career has been a roller coaster from a big picture perspective. Yet as PFF eloquently put it, the two were dominating last year together.
If we get 16 games with both Green and Boyd on the field, don’t be shocked to see this tandem move up the rankings this time next year.