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What’s the best you could expect of A.J. Green IF he came back this year?

A.J. Green is not coming back this season, but even if he does, his upside is limited.

The Cincinnati Bengals returned to practice on Wednesday to begin preparations for Week 12, and wide receiver A.J. Green once again sat out practice. His recovery from torn ankle ligaments suffered back in late July has slowed to a crawl and it seems more and more unlikely he will play this season.

Yesterday before this news came out, we said it was time to release Green from your fantasy roster and admit it’s just not happening this year. And yet, Green remains rostered in nearly 75 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. There’s a FOMO aspect to it with people thinking that as soon as they release Green, he’ll be activated and they’ll lose in the playoffs because they didn’t hang onto him.

Let’s look at the hypothetical that Green does return. Let’s say he is activated in the next couple weeks and his first game back is in Week 14 or 15 when your playoffs are underway. Are you really comfortable rolling the dice on whether or not he is back to early 2018 form?

Green got off to a great start in 2018, and halfway through the season he was on pace for 90 catches, 1,374 yards, and 12 touchdowns. It would have been his best season since the first few years of his career. But he suffered a toe injury in Week 8 and aside from returning for one game where he caught one pass for seven yards, he missed the rest of the season. He has officially not been healthy during the season in over a year.

Green turned 31 in July, and while plenty of football players have excelled well into their 30s, most that reach 30 start to see a downturn in their skills. I suspect we are seeing that in Green. He will likely be healthy for free agency this offseason, but he is going to be a guy who deserves to slip in fantasy drafts next year. Someone will reach for him based on the good ol’ days, but most will not.

Next year’s draft doesn’t matter for non-keeper league decisions this year, however. Even if Green comes back, the odds that he is even a WR2 value is slim. There is some potential WR3/flex value, but even that requires rolling the dice. This is a guy who played 17 snaps in Week 13 last year, but otherwise has not played meaningful snaps since October 28th of last year. Just the rust alone is something that will take time to shake off if he were to return.

If he’s taking up an IR roster spot and you’re otherwise completely healthy, I suppose there’s no reason to release him. But if you are just considering the possibility of replacing him, you might as well do it now. There is little upside to keeping him on your roster.