Spotlight - RB Ahman Green, Green Bay Packers
Posted 8/22 by Jason Wood and Bob Henry,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
Ahman Green is clearly one of the better backs in the league. Although he didn't make his 4th consecutive Pro Bowl last year (he went in 2001-2003), he did have another fine season: 259 carries, 1,163 yards (4.5 YPC), 7 TDs, 40 receptions, 275 yards receiving and another TD for good measure. That added up to a 13th place fantasy finish, and let's not forget he did this in 15 games.
With that in mind, I think you can look at his baseline, if healthy, as a solid 2nd tier fantasy back. Someone who should get you top 10-15 overall production with some upside depending on his TD output. HOWEVER, you can't ignore trend analysis when evaluating football prospects. It's a rare thing indeed when someone shows a clear downtrend and then suddenly reverses course. It's not IMPOSSIBLE, but it's UNLIKELY. I bring this up because behind the veneer of Green's year in, year out fantasy excellence is some deterioration in key metrics.
- Green's 259 carries was Green's lowest total as an NFL starter
- His 1,163 rushing yards were also a career low (as a starter)
- His 7 rushing TDs tied a career low
- His 40 receptions set a new low, and continued a 5 year downtrend
- His receiving yards also were a career low, and too marked the 5th consecutive year of decline
- His 1 receiving TD set a career low
I like Ahman Green, and it may seem like nitpicking when he finished as RB13 a year ago despite missing a game. But the fact is, more backs than not suffer marked declines in their performance after a few years of heavy work, and Green pretty much had his worst season as a starter in every major category last year. IF he can maintain that level of production, he's more than worth the price of a 2nd round draft pick, but usually a back that's been as good as Ahman's been has a major dropoff year and we're left to say, "I didn't see that coming."
With the Packers having a major shakeup in the interior of the offensive line and a young and unproven (I'm being kind) defense, this could very well be a season where Ahman just isn't in line for the kind of workload necessary to re-emerge as a top 10 fantasy back.
- Green has finished no worse than RB13 in his five seasons in Green Bay
- Ahman has been durable, and is more than equipped to tote the rock 20+ times when asked
- With Brett Favre and the WR corps in Green Bay, Ahman is always going to have chances to run against 7 man fronts each and every game
- Last season marked career lows (as a starter) in carries, yards, receptions and TDs
- Green has a noted fumbling problem (that has plagued him considerably in camp this year)
- With an uncertain defense and questions on the O-line, Green may arguably be in the least advantageous situation of his Packers tenure
I'm not going to deride anyone who opts for Ahman late in the 1st round or early in the 2nd believing last year was an anomaly. But we can't argue the fact that his involvement in the passing game has been on the decline for five years, nor can we dispute that the Packers offensive line is not going to be the same without Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle. At the end of the day, I wouldn't be shocked if Ahman ends up closer to RB20 than he does RB1; and that's reason enough for me to use discipline in where I'm willing to draft him.
Bob Henry's Thoughts
Like Brett Favre, Ahman Green is perennially among the more consistent, rock solid choices you could select on draft day. Heís finished in the top 5 fantasy RBs in three of the last five years and never ranked lower than 13th. Green truly is an explosive, multi-dimensional player who can score in a variety of ways and from anywhere on the field. Has elite speed for a running back combined with power, cutting ability, durability and heís a great receiver. Green has five straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons with no less than 1,438 total yards (his total in 2004) and a 4.7 yd career average. Heís scored 13, 11, 9, 20 and 8 combined TDs in five years. His 40 receptions in 2004 represent a career low and he caught between 50 and 73 passes in his first four years. Green is only 28 years old and heís coming off and has missed only 3 starts in the last 5 years (1 in 2004, 2 in 2002).
The Packers offense returns almost intact except for both of their starting guards. Most of the Packers (and Ahmanís) most successful running plays feature pulling guards, so itís conceivable to expect a slight drop off in the Packersí running game. Green also has the specter of Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher lurching valuable points from him. The Packers signaled last year they arenít opposed to spelling Green more frequently. The Packers defense appears to be young and ripe for the taking, which means they may be relying more and more on Favre to win games in the second half. Green may have a difficult time getting 300 touches again.
Heís also a chronic fumbler. If you draft Ahman you do so with eyes wide open. He was also arrested during the off-season for suspicion of domestic violence. Off the field problems can weigh heavily on players and could potentially expose him to punishment from the league if it continues.
- Catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield
- Runs with great power, balance, vision and breaks tackles and long TDs alike
- Missed only 3 starts in the last 77 games.
- Never averaged less than 4.3 yds/carry or scored less than 8 TDs in a season
- Heís a fumbler. Pure and simple.
- Sits on third downs more frequently than earlier in his career (Tony Fisher).
- Starting guards from 2004 are gone via free agency
- Packers defense is young, inexperienced and vulnerable
Green isnít any less talented nor is he close to physically declining this year. Heís everything you want in a running back (save for the fumbles). Yet itís difficult to overlook the potential slippage along the Packers offensive line combined with a young, inexperienced defense that could prove to be a liability. Green also gets punkíd at the goal line at least 4 to 6 times a year Ė usually the same number as TDs catches for Bubba Franks. Every defense in the Packers division appears to be better against the run in 2005, too. Even with all the negative vibes you might get from Green Ė at the end of the day Ė you canít ignore his explosive ability and excellent production year over year Ė and week after week. He represents excellent draft day value this year and if he rebounds with yet another top 5 season, heíll make a lot of owners champions. First things first though, the going gets tougher so look for a slight decrease in production, but still pretty solid, consistent numbers.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
The big season Ahman Green had, was the year that Favre's thumb was broken and he threw much less, I believe that was a freak injury and Favre will throw the ball with the same reckless abandon as he has always done before. Favre loves to throw the ball in the red-zone and this has taken away and will continue to take away from AG redzone TD's
A Green's situation is becoming less favorable to put up big stats.
1) Loss of two solid OL
2) Bad defense leads to abandoning power running game
3) Emergence of Walker, along with Driver, cause less passes to Green
4) Davenport and Fisher steal carries to keep Green fresh
With the exception of 2003, Ahman Green has been remarkably consistent. There is enough data to conclude that 2003 is the aberration and not the true indicator. His offseason "troubles" don't seem to be of the type that would warrant any downgrade in my opinion.
Ahman Green Projections
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