We’re within the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s formally time to start out fantasy soccer prep. I’ll be answering the largest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to learn the sequence of questions answered to this point.
There merely haven’t been many higher large receivers than A.J. Brown over the previous two seasons. The Titans’ second-round decide within the 2019 draft didn’t even obtain a full-time position till his fifth recreation; the one drawback since has been that Brown hasn’t been concerned sufficient within the league’s reigning Tenth- and fourth-ranked scoring offense.
Standing at 6-feet, 226 kilos, and possessing sub-4.5 pace, Brown is massive, bodily and may even run previous loads of NFL-caliber corners. We’ve seen nothing besides good issues occur when the Titans have put the ball in his palms; now the query turns into whether or not or not AJB can take a leap into the true elites on the place in his third 12 months within the league.
What follows is a breakdown of simply how good Brown has been and what to make of his fantasy soccer inventory forward of 2021.
Brown is already on the shortlist of the NFL’s absolute best WRs by any effectivity metric
AJB WR1 szn was a daily prevalence in 2020, because the Titans’ No. 1 pass-game choice made a behavior of ripping off at the very least one distinctive play a recreation. Credit score to the always underrated Ryan Tannehill for loads of nice passes, but it surely’s additionally robust to discover a receiver who has made higher use of their alternatives than Brown.
AJB *THE* WR1 SZN pic.twitter.com/mSnNa7dItt
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 28, 2021
Positive, Brown hasn’t precisely lit the field rating on hearth, with 52 receptions-1,051 yards-8 TD and 70-1,075-11 receiving strains to start out his profession, however that is virtually fully because of his lack of high-end alternative — in some way he ranks simply thirty first amongst all large receivers in targets over the previous two seasons.
Brown has greater than balled out when given ample alternative, posting somewhat absurd 10-151-1, 8-114-1, 7-112-1, 4-101-1, 6-83-1 and 7-82-1 receiving strains in his solely six profession video games with greater than eight targets.
Quantity figures apart, it’s robust to seek out an effectivity stat that paints AJB as something apart from a top-five receiver since coming into the league.
- PFF receiving grade: 91.0 (tied for No. 4 amongst 77 certified WRs)
- Yards per reception: 17.4 (tied for No. 4)
- YAC per reception: 7.3 (No. 2)
- Yards per route run: 2.66 (tied for No. 2)
- WR ranking: 130.1 (No. 1)
The yards after the catch determine might be essentially the most absurd of the group as a result of Brown doesn’t make his dwelling off low-aDOT targets like most receivers we see close to the highest of this metric. Credit score to Deebo Samuel (9.8), Hunter Renfrow (6.3) and Robert Woods (6.0) for becoming a member of AJB (7.3) within the top-four of the metric; they every had averaged goal depths of seven.6 or fewer yards whereas Brown has been focused on common 12.3 yards down the sector. The one different participant to common at the very least 6.5 yards after the catch per reception with a double-digit common goal depth of at the very least 10 yards over the previous decade is Josh Gordon.
We’ve established that Brown already deserves to be within the dialog among the many league’s top-five real-life WRs. Now we’ll transfer on to why AJB may simply have the form of quantity in 2021 to hitch that very same group in fantasy land.
The Titans don’t precisely have many locations to go together with the ball
Solely 4 offenses have at the very least 200 vacated targets from 2020: Lions (360), Jaguars (240), Titans (224) and Panthers (200). Solely three models have at the very least 2,000 accessible air yards up for grabs: Lions (3,516), Jaguars (2,147) and Titans (2,143).
The Lions are coping with most likely the single-worst WR room within the league and have Jared Goff below heart. The Jaguars’ newest perplexing choice is the will to seemingly characteristic Tim Tebow as their model of Taysom Hill. And after much thought and deliberation, I’m comfy calling Sam Darnold a nasty skilled QB.
The Titans have at all times been the highest spot for both an ideal free agent or rookie receiver to land all through this offseason cycle because of the departures of Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and Jonnu Smith. Positive, we will even throw Kalif Raymond in there.
In the meanwhile, the next large receivers and tight ends make up the majority of the Titans’ depth chart (NSFW):
- AJB: He’s good.
- Josh Reynolds: -not-great ex-complementary WR from the Rams who I challenge to be “only a man” in three-WR units. With that stated, he must be thought of the favourite to cleared the path in secondary targets.
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: A second-year, former undrafted free agent who has three profession receptions to his title.
- Chester Rogers: An ex-Colts backup WR who will battle to do greater than steal some slot snaps.
- Cameron Batson: Has earned simply 24 targets in 23 video games over the previous two seasons. I’m nonetheless extremely confused why he had 4 rush makes an attempt in 2020 and Brown had zero.
- Dez Fitzpatrick: Fourth-round rookie WR who possesses the form of pace (4.43-second 40-yard sprint) to exchange Raymond because the play-action deep menace; anticipating him to slip into Davis’ previous job seamlessly might be wishful considering, although.
- Cody Hollister: Brother of Jacob Hollister, Cody is one other former undrafted free agent who has three catches to his title after spending the final two years in Tennessee.
- Marcus Johnson: Possibly my favourite secondary choice of the group, Johnson repeatedly made essentially the most out of his deep-ball alternatives with the Colts through the years. The soon-to-be 27-year-old WR is actually a minimize candidate on this extremely unsure image, although there are more than a few examples of Johnson making high-level performs over the previous two seasons.
- Anthony Firkser: Locked in as Tannehill’s No. 1 TE, the 26-year-old expertise has posted 8-113-1, 5-51-0 and 3-19-0 receiving strains in his solely three profession video games with greater than 5 targets. The danger with Firkser is that he won’t be an entire sufficient TE to remain on the sector on a regular basis; he’s solely performed greater than 50% of the offense’s snaps in two of 47 profession video games.
- Geoff Swaim: The form of block-first TE who will inevitably infuriate Firkser fantasy traders by absorbing snaps and vulturing the occasional goal-line TD.
I swear I didn’t make a single a type of names up.
Some within the fantasy neighborhood are involved with the potential for Brown to see an excessive amount of consideration from opposing defenses to make good use of his possible gargantuan workload. We merely haven’t seen this happen typically within the NFL when coupled with an excellent QB.
Look, 150 targets is a reasonably arbitrary quantity, but it surely’s additionally a 16-game tempo ground for what we’re anticipating from Brown transferring ahead because the continued goal hog of this offense. Total, 65 WRs have acquired at the very least 150 targets in a season since 2010 — their common end has been because the PPR WR6. Fifty-nine of the 65 WRs (91%) completed as a top-12 PPR WR. Solely 2012 Larry Fitzgerald, 2016 Hopkins and 2016 Allen Robinson II did not put up top-24 manufacturing. It is a good factor Diggs received’t be catching passes from John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Brock Osweiler, Tom Savage or Blake Bortles.
Brown completed 2020 because the WR6 in PPR factors per recreation and WR12 total; his potential to put up WR1 numbers already in an offense with much more goal competitors AND a 2,000-yard rusher ought to calm any considerations that he received’t money in with a far greater workload in 2021.
Add all of it collectively and …
Elite expertise assembly elite alternative: The story of 2021 AJB
There’s a robust argument that Brown deserves to be the general WR1 coming into the 2021 season if Aaron Rodgers winds up being traded away or sits out the season. For now, AJB is available in as my WR2 behind solely Davante Adams. They aren’t alone on the prime; Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins additionally fall into my “huge target projections for grade-a ballers” Tier 1.
Notice that that is only for 2021 re-draft consideration. The ceiling is really the roof for Brown in dynasty land; I feel that argument for the general WR1 in that format falls between solely AJB and Justin Jefferson.
One concern that people have is what’s going to turn into of Brown if the Falcons determine to commerce Julio Jones to the Titans. Take it from AJB himself that this shouldn’t be a lot of a problem.
Julio to Tennessee now! pic.twitter.com/ixZNV7fApB
— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) May 26, 2021
It’s really scary how related the numbers are that Jones and Davis put up last season. Including one other prime choice like Julio would undoubtedly knock Brown just a few spots down the ranks, but it surely’s not like he’d be near falling out of the top-12 WRs.
As a lot because the Titans wish to run the rattling ball, their awfully mediocre protection might (once more) forestall them from really limiting Tannehill’s go makes an attempt. And even when they don’t: we already know AJB is loads able to placing up massive numbers with restricted alternative. I don’t suppose there’s an excessive amount of worth on this WR room apart from Brown, though Firkser is a worthy late-round TE choice to chase and falls in my “you could imagine how a TE1 finish comes to fruition” Tier 4.
For my cash’s value: AJB has the confirmed expertise and projected quantity to be *the* WR1 in 2021 and past.