Fantastic deal against AJ Brown: A side move to Philadelphia
Summer is here, which means we’re getting closer to the start of the fantasy football draft. Success in these drafts will come from striking good deals in the mid and late rounds while avoiding players who may see their numbers dwindle compared to 2021. This last exercise is not easy, however, especially in the case elite players. to their position or have just had exceptional seasons in the stat sheets.
Concrete example. In 2020, Allen Robinson recorded 102 catches on 151 targets for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns. All of that was enough for him to finish ninth in fantasy points among wide receivers, and it was his second straight year in the top 10. As a result, fantasy managers felt good about drafting Robinson as the that low-end No. 1 width in the 2021 Drafts. In fact, he had an ADP of 32.7, according to Fantasy Football Calculator.
Unfortunately, the veteran has seen a massive drop in his fantasy totals across the board. In fact, his catches, yardage and touchdown numbers were his worst since his rookie season. Who knew he would miss Mitchell Trubisky so much or that rookie pick Justin Fields would actually be bad news for Robinson’s stock?
Thing is, not many saw it coming because Robinson was so good the previous two seasons. The proof, of course, is in its premium ADP number. That brings me to this series, aptly named “The Fantasy Case Against…” where I’m going to do my due diligence looking at the players everyone in Fantasy Land thinks are a safe bet to stay ultra-productive after finding a high level of success in past seasons.
The series shines a light on big-name players or those coming out of huge statistical years who could see a surprising drop in fantasy success. Like I always say, the one thing predictable about the NFL is that it’s often unpredictable. And while we love our fantasy heroes on the grill, no one is ever guaranteed success.
Then I will watch Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown.
Fantastic Deal Against: Cooper Kupp | Davante Adams | Deebo Samuel | Amon-Ra St. Brown | Diota Johnson | Cordarelle Patterson | Michael Thomas | James Conner | Javonte Williams | DK Metcalf | amari cooper
Brown is coming off a disappointing season, finishing 32nd in fantasy points among wide receivers while missing four games due to injury. He wasn’t much better either in points per game (13.9 PPG), ranking 28th. DJ Moore, Michael Pittman Jr. and Marquise Brown were among the broads who averaged more. Overall, Brown posted career lows in yardage, touchdowns, receiving yards and fantasy points.
Did you know?
Brown was brutally inconsistent for fantasy managers last season, scoring in single digits in seven of 13 games (54%). Additionally, nearly 50% of his total Fantasy points have come in three games. Three. He also only found the end zone five times and was held to six targets or less in five of his 13 games. Brown has also missed six games combined over the past two seasons due to an assortment of bumps and bruises.
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Brown’s best fantasy season came in 2020 when he scored 247.5 fantasy points. That total would have ranked fifth in a single season for an Eagles spread in the past 20 years. Only two (Terrell Owens – 2004, Jeremy Maclin – 2014) have had more than 270 fantastic points for the franchise in this era. Additionally, an Eagles wide has only reached the 250-point mark in PPR leagues four times in the past two decades.
Philadelphia has also seen only four wide receivers (Owens, Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis) finish with 1,000+ yards since 2002, and only eight have scored eight or more touchdowns. Only two, Owens and Maclin, have recorded double-digit touchdowns. These are a little awkward for Brown if you’re into historical trends.
Training and personnel changes
Head coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen will again lead the offense, although the former will be the main caller. In his first season as a main man, Sirianni’s team was a tale of two offenses. Through the first six weeks, the Eagles ranked 10th in passing percentage and 23rd in rushing percentage. Jalen Hurts averaged nearly 35 pass attempts per contest, and the team had a meager 2-4 record.
Over the past 11 games, however, the Eagles have focused on the run. In fact, neither team ran the ball more. They were also dead last in passing percentage, and Hurts has seen his average pass attempts per game drop to just 24.8 in his last nine starts. The Eagles’ wide outings were also affected, as DeVonta Smith led the team averaging a fantastic 10.7 points per game. No other receiver has averaged more than 6.1 points during that span.
The Eagles went 7-4 over that 11-game span and finished 9-8, which was good enough for a Wild Card berth. The ground game, it seemed, was better for the team. But with the addition of Brown, the Eagles need to kick the ball more often…right?
At times, Brown showed flashes of genius, but he wasn’t always reliable for fantasy managers. The fact that 50% of his points last season came in three games is proof of that. Sure, he was much better the previous campaign (over 15 points in nine of 14 games), but he had the advantage of playing with a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, who had a 67 completion percentage. .3 in his last three seasons. Hurts was at 61.3 last season, which ranked 25th among quarterbacks with at least 12 games.
Brown also had the advantage of playing in an attack with Derrick Henry, who regularly drew stacked fronts. In fact, no running back with at least 200 carries has had more runs with more than eight men in the box in 2020. That made life easier for Brown and Titans receivers. The Eagles don’t have that kind of back. Their best runner, Miles Sanders, saw 10.2% of his runs against more than eight men in the box in 2021.
Fantasy fans also have to wonder how much less Sirianni will run football now that he has Brown in the attack. Remember, the Eagles had a better record while leading the league in point percentage last season. Will Sirianni revert to his original game plan of throwing the ball more than 60% of the time like he did in his first six games when the team opened 2-4, or will he feature- there a balanced attack where running is not the main focus?
Brown will also have to share goals with DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and, to a lesser extent, Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor. When you also factor in that he hasn’t been the longest lasting wide in the league, and Brown looks like a real risk at his current ADP of 28.4 on Fantasy Football Calculator. At this position, he is the 11th wide receiver in the table. Personally, I don’t see Brown as one of the top 12 fantasists.
Instead, I would look to grab him as the No. 2 receiver in the third round. That’s where he landed in my recent fictional 10-round draft. With several hurdles to overcome in Philadelphia, including a quarterback who needs to improve his accuracy and the potential for a run-based system, I can’t confidently target him higher.
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Michael Fabian is awarded fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and instagram for your fantastic breaking news and the best analysis in the business!