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Player showdown: Mike Evans or A.J. Green?

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 08: Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Trevin Wade #31 of the New York Giants during a game at Raymond James Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

For this edition of the Player Showdown, we take a look at two elite receivers. Both Mike Evans and A.J. Green are the top targets on their respective teams (Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, respectively) and have multiple 1,000-yard seasons and 10-touchdown seasons on their resumes. Currently, they are both considered top-five receivers and low-end first round picks when it comes to fantasy ADP. But what happens if both are available when your pick is up? It may seem like you can’t go wrong with either one, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right answer.

The players

As mentioned above, both Evans and Green are elite receivers and have the production to prove it. Evans has averaged 79 receptions, 1,193 yards, and nine touchdowns over the course of his three-year career, topping out at 96 receptions, 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns. Amazingly, Green has nearly identical yearly averages — 80 receptions for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns. Injury shortened his 2016 season, and he finished under 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career, but he did average a career-high 86 yards per game. In short, both players are very good.

There’s also similarities when looking at their efficiency. Per PFF’s drop rate, Green ranked 23rd in 2016, dropping only 5.71 percent of catchable passes, compared to the 28th-ranked Evans, at 6.8 percent. When looking at PFF’s yards per route run, Green finished second at 2.86 yards, while Evans finished fourth at 2.28. When it came to the deep ball, Green was extremely successful, catching 10 of 10 catchable targets thrown 20 yards or more downfield. But Evans was right there, catching 13 out of 15 balls of the same variety. Even the percentage of deep balls compared to their overall targets is similar, with Green seeing 21.1 percent of his targets more than 20 yards downfield, while Evans saw 23.2 percent. Statistically, they’re virtually the same player.

You have to really dig to find differences but they are there. For instance, Evans’ receiver rating (the quarterback’s rating when targeting a specific player) was just 86.4, good for 38th among all receivers. Meanwhile, Green finished seventh with a 116.3. An explanation could be that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton didn’t throw a single interception when throwing to Green, while Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston threw eight when throwing to Evans. But Evans also leads all receivers with 39 deep-ball targets.

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