Adriel Jeremiah ‘A.J.’ Green will be 32-years old at the end of July. Green was born in Summerville, South Carolina. He reportedly learned how to juggle at an early age, which significantly helped with his hand-eye coordination. He was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and running track.
He was considered one of the top national football recruits in 2008 after catching 75 passes for 1,422 yards and 16 touchdowns in his sophomore year of high school. Impressively his 5,373 receiving yards rank second all-time.
Green went to the University of Georgia, where he was a rockstar from the beginning. In his freshman year, he caught 56 passes for 963 yards and 8 touchdowns, setting multiple freshman school records.
In his sophomore year, he continued his impressive run with 47 catches and 751 yards and 6 touchdowns, despite missing three games due to injury. During his junior season, 2010, Green sold his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000. As a result, he missed the first 4 games due to suspension. He still had an impressive season with 57 catches for 848 yards and 9 touchdowns.
At the NFL Combine Green measured 6’ 3 ?” and 211 pounds, running a 4.50 40-yard dash. The Bengals chose him as the 4th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft; a couple picks ahead of Julio Jones. Green has been in the NFL for 9 seasons and has caught over 1,000 receiving yards in 6 of 9 seasons, missing the others due to injury-shortened seasons.
Green’s best season was 2013 when he played in all 16 games and caught 98 passes for 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns. Over his first 5 NFL seasons Green only missed a combined four games. Then in 2016, he only managed to play 10 games, but bounced back in 2017 playing all 16 games. In 2018, he only played in 9 games and unfortunately missed all of 2019 due to injury as well. Green has been missing in action in 29 overall contests over the past four seasons out of 64 (45%).
The last time A.J. Green saw the field in a live NFL game was December 2nd, 2018. That was one year and six months ago, or 17 snaps in Week 13 stands between Green and 24 consecutive missed games. I feel like it’s been an eternity since we’ve seen him suit up.
In 2020, Green is dealing with age, health, a rookie quarterback (Joe Burrow) throwing him the ball, and is playing for a contract as Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on him.
However, when Green is on the field, he causes a variety of damage to defenses. He has been no worse than 16th in fantasy points per game in his eight seasons in the NFL. In 2018, Green was enjoying a WR7 season through eight weeks.
Let’s review AJ Green's injury history, which goes back to 2009 while he was still at Georgia. He missed a game in his sophomore season due to a bruised lung. Two weeks later, he injured his left shoulder and was out two more games. Then in his rookie NFL season, he hyperextended his right knee, causing a knee sprain and missed the next game as a result.
In preseason of the 2013 season, he sprained his knee again, but this time on the left, and missed several preseason games. The good news is that he managed to play the entire season without any setbacks.
Unfortunately, in 2014 his foot injuries began. In week one, Green suffered a turf toe injury in his right foot. It is a painful injury that is essentially a hyperextension of the big toe and makes even simple walking very challenging.
The issue with turf toe is that they do not heal quickly and, unfortunately, are notorious to re-injure, and that’s what Green’s did. After returning a couple of weeks later, he re-injured the same big toe and missed a couple more games. Green was absent in a total of three contests and departed early from two others because of this injury.
Green suffered a concussion in week 17 of 2014, which caused him to miss the Wild-Card playoff game. Green injured his right hamstring in November of the 2016 season. The tear was so significant that he was out a total of six games, and ended up on the injured reserve, despite wanting to return.
After injuring his groin in Week 3 of 2018, Green then re-injured his right great toe that had bothered him in 2014 and missed another 7 games as a result of this injury. This turf toe has cost him a total of 10 games, spanning two different seasons.
Entering the 2019 season, Green was eager to get back to work after finally having surgery on this turf toe in December of 2018. While he expected to be fully ready by the beginning of training camp, Green suffered a left foot injury on July 27, 2019. Green was extremely frustrated after suffering the injury and talking to team doctors, and he left the field on crutches. The initial thoughts by The Fantasy Doctors founder and orthopedic foot specialist Dr. Selene Parekh found here.
Initial reports said that his MRI was supportive and only demonstrated a ‘minor ankle injury,’ but surgery was required, and he would return in 6 to 8 weeks. Our Dr. Parekh provided an update here, discussing much more concern. Tune into the 2:04 mark where he outlines how Green could miss the entire season, which he did.
Shortly after this report, I (Dr. Morse) specifically warned fans that this ankle injury would linger and likely be significant, despite not knowing any specific details. With each passing week, his timeline grew vaguer. The Bengals did not consider Green a candidate for injured reserve, which in hindsight, was a mistake.
In my opinion, Green tried to return to the field too quickly after surgery and suffered setbacks as a result, especially if he had a considerable cartilage injury. If Green were on the IR/PUP list, he would have been able to focus on rehabilitation. Instead, he was perhaps rushing back, and Dr. Parekh’s insight in the video is likely spot-on.
The ankle and foot do not heal quickly, especially after surgery, and the swelling takes a great deal of time to go down even after everything is technically ‘healed.’ Even walking places stress on several different parts of the foot and running only amplifies that stress.
Expecting someone to fully recover in 2 to 3 months from a significant ankle injury that required surgery and then ramp up to the level of an elite athlete is very challenging. In my opinion, the expectations were not realistic; that’s why Green struggled to return.
In mid-December, Green reportedly visited with world-renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay. There have been limited comments coming out of the Green camp heading into the 2020 season, and hopefully, that is a good thing. However, Bengals coach Zac Taylor states that Green is fully healthy and has been working out at full strength since early April.
Cincinnati has an abundance of talent, and they have depth. Green will have Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Auden Tate, Alex Ericson, and rookie Tee Higgins who they drafted in the second round. The tight end position won’t be a factor in the offense.
Green’s floor coincides with his health and Burrow’s ability to find him. Green is an excellent route runner, and the responsibility on Burrow will be less. The injuries and how it will tie in with Green’s age will also be a factor.
The primary target of the offense is Green. He won’t see a stacked front because of the talent at receiver and Joe Mixon’s ability to draw defenses forward. The Bengals have not put up very good numbers when it comes to offensive capability. 30th in points for, and 26th in yards, but this will change under Burrow and the protection upfront getting better.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Green has a 53.6% chance of injury in 2020, and projects him to miss two games due to injury.
The injury risk for Green is 7 out of 10. He has struggled with foot and ankle injuries, which have limited three of his past four seasons. He has missed 45% of the games he could have played in over the past four years.
What is challenging is to decide who A.J. Green is heading into 2020. It has been over three calendar seasons since Green played more than nine games. Out of the past four seasons, he has only played more than ten games once. Hopefully, his turf toe on the right foot is a thing of the past after having surgery on it in early 2019. The injury to his left ankle could have been a compensatory injury after the surgery on his right toe.
Speculation aside, once an elite wide receiver starts to decline, in terms of health and effectiveness, it is very challenging for them to regain that stardom. At 32 years old, Green’s likely best years are behind him.
He is currently being drafted WR28 in PPR (in mid-June), just after Devante Parker, Terry McLaurin, and just before Jarvis Landry and Hollywood Brown. Depending on his role, this is either extreme value or awful.
Given his injury history, I (Dr. Morse) no longer view Green as anything more than a WR3 with WR2 upside. A buyer can get Green as their 3rd wide receiver to perform in the top-10 or someone who should be waiver wire fodder. The closer he gets to WR36, the more I (Mike) feel confident in buying.
Injury Risk: High. 7/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Jul 27, 2019||Pedal Ankle (high) Sprain Grade 3||Green initially suffered his injury on the first day of training camp and it seemed like he might return for the team’s final two games before shutting himself down, then shifting to injured reserve for the final week.|
|Dec 2, 2018||Pedal Toe Sprain||Green aggravated his right toe injury and missed the final 4 games of the season.|
|Oct 28, 2018||Pedal Toe Sprain||Green missed 3 games with an injury to his right big toe.|
|Sep 23, 2018||Inguinal Groin Pull Grade 1||Green injured his groin in Week 3 but was able to play the following week.|
|Nov 20, 2016||Thigh Hamstring Tear Grade 3||Green tore his right hamstring in Week 11 and missed the rest of the season. He landed on IR in Week 17, despite reportedly wanting to play over the final 2 weeks.|
|Dec 19, 2015||Back Tailbone Bruise||The Bengals added Green to the Week 15 injury report with an unspecified back issue after a Saturday walkthrough. He played in the game but left in the 3rd quarter, then played again in Week 16.|
|Dec 28, 2014||Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1||Green took a nasty hit from Steelers S Mike Mitchell in Week 17. He missed the Wild Card Round playoff loss with a concussion.|
|Dec 22, 2014||Arm||Green sustained a bruised right biceps in Week 16 and was in and out of that game. He played through it in Week 17 as well.|
|Oct 8, 2014||Pedal Toe Turf Toe||Green aggravated the injury to his right big toe in Wednesday practice for Week 6. He missed that week's game plus the following 2.|
|Sep 7, 2014||Pedal Toe Turf Toe||Green suffered "something like turf toe" in his right foot early in the season opener. He played through it then but made it through just 6 snaps in Week 2.|
|Jul 25, 2013||Knee Strain Grade 1||Green hurt his left knee in a July 25 camp practice. He returned to practice Aug. 14 and missed the 1st 2 preseason games.|
|Nov 13, 2011||Knee Strain Grade 1||Green hyperextended his right knee against the Steelers and missed the following game.|
|Nov 14, 2009||Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain||Green hurt his left shoulder against Auburn and missed the next 2 games. He returned for the Independence Bowl.|
|Oct 31, 2009||Chest Lung Bruise||Green missed 1 game with a bruised lung.|