He's still a valuable fantasy asset but
the days of AB being a perennial top-5 pick are likely over.
The Antonio Brown drama finally came to a close with the news early
Sunday morning that the Steelers officially traded the seven-time
pro bowler to the Raiders for a third and fifth round pick. In addition
to a fresh start with a new team, Brown received a new contract
worth just over $50 million over the next three seasons, including
$30 million guaranteed.
Not only did Brown leave the toxic situation in Pittsburgh that
he arguably had a big part in creating, but he is also now the
highest paid wide receiver based on average salary per year according
to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. I guess being a locker room
cancer and a me-first egomaniac doesn’t really matter if
you are one of the best wide receivers in the world.
Say what you want about Mr. Big Chest (I prefer to call him Mr.
Milk Mustache), he got to have his cake and eat it too, while
the Steelers are left with $20 million in dead cap space and a
glaring hole at WR.
For fantasy purposes, it is hard to justify calling the move
to the Raiders as an upgrade for Brown, a four-time first team
All-Pro wide receiver who set an NFL record for six consecutive
seasons with over 100 receptions and 1200 yards.
Whether or not he wants to admit it, Brown had a good thing in
Pittsburgh with Big Ben accounting for all 79 career passing touchdowns
to Brown. In addition to leading the league in receptions twice
during that span, Brown led the league in touchdown receptions
in 2018 with 15.
Volume will not be a problem for Brown as a member of the Raiders.
Jon Gruden did not bring in Brown to be a decoy, and Derek Carr
will not be afraid to pepper Brown with a ton of targets each
But it is hard to imagine those targets being as valuable as
the ones he received over the past nine years in Pittsburgh as
part of one of the most explosive offenses in the league. The
elite Steelers offensive line and a ground attack provided by
Bell and James
Conner forced teams to focus on the run while creating numerous
play action passing opportunities for Brown to exploit.
In addition, Brown had the benefit of playing opposite of JuJu
Smith-Schuster and other talented wide receivers over the
past few seasons. As of right now, the most dangerous receiving
threat to help keep defenses from double and triple teaming Brown
is tight end Jared
Cook … ohh wait, he’s a free agent … and the 25th ranked Oakland
ground game led by … free agents Marshawn
Martin, and restricted free agent Jalen
Richard? There’s change coming to the Raiders backfield but
unless they pull another rabbit out of the hat and sign Le’Veon
Bell, this isn’t likely to be a formidable unit that will
force teams to stack the box.
Brown will find that the grass is not always greener, especially
when you leave a near perfect situation in Pittsburgh that he
enjoyed for so many years. Despite this fact, Brown will continue
to be an excellent fantasy wide receiver and should start creeping
into the mid-to-high second round of drafts this summer, with
a stat line of 100/1400/10 not out of the question.
The volume will be there for Brown to finish as a WR1, and owners
who play in full PPR formats will benefit from his elite reception
totals. However, going from an offense that scored 428 total points
in 2018 to a Raiders team that managed just 290 will undoubtedly
affect his touchdown scoring numbers.
I anticipate that Brown will still be an incredibly valuable
fantasy asset in 2019, but the days of him being a perennial top-5
pick are likely over.