Each week, above our full fantasy rankings, SI.com fantasy writer Michael Beller and 4for4 writer John Paulsen will have a brief discussion about some of the most intriguing rankings questions. Scroll down for our full rankings at every position.
Michael Beller: Often, an injury opens a door to more opportunity for everyone in an offense. Occasionally, though, the injury is to a player so integral, even a non-quarterback, that it crushes the offense. I think that's what is about to happen in Cincinnati.
A.J. Green will miss at least the next two games with a toe injury, and he could be out longer than that. No offense can operate without an effective quarterback, but Green is just about as crucial as any non-quarterback to his own offense as any player in the league. He's having a phenomenal year, catching 45 passes for 687 yards and six touchdowns through six games. You don't need to be a math genius to figure out the 16-game pace. Without him making big plays and moving the chains, life is going to be much tougher for Dalton, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. I still think Boyd and Mixon will be regular fantasy starters, but I think both of them just took a hit to their floor and ceiling. How do you view the Cincinnati offense without Green?
John Paulsen: I have Boyd ranked as a low-end WR1 this week in a very good matchup against the Saints. I think he’s very likely to see eight to 10 targets in what should be a high-scoring game. There are certainly concerns moving forward about what Green’s absence means for Boyd, who was already averaging 8.3 targets per game. Does he start to see 10-plus looks on a regular basis? If so, he should have a pretty high floor, even in bad matchups. He’ll have the attention of the defense, which may be a problem.
Dalton’s situation is worse, but he has played six games without Green in the lineup since 2016 and fantasy-wise his numbers haven’t taken a huge hit. His yards have been steady, his touchdown passes have dropped (1.56 per game with Green, 1.17 without), but he has taken better care of the ball (0.76 per game interceptions with Green, 0.33 without) when Green has been out. To account for Green’s absence, Mixon and Gio Bernard should see a bit more work in the passing game, but I think the job of replacing a good portion of Green’s production will fall on the shoulders of John Ross, who has flashed at times but has been unable to stay healthy. He’s trying to get over an injured groin, but if he’s a full participant in practice this week, he’s an intriguing play in a nice matchup with the Saints.
Mixon’s workload was likely to take a bit of a hit with Bernard’s return, but Green’s absence may put more on his plate in the passing game.
Beller: Yeah, I grabbed Ross anywhere I could when news of the severity of Green’s injury broke last week, and I do like him as a long-range play while the starter is out. Still, it sounds like you’re optimistic than I am about this offense without Green. I just think the whole unit could really suffer without everything Green brings to the table. And with that, let’s get to our Week 10 rankings.