Fantasy football: How the Antonio Brown trade affects his value
Fantasy football: How the Antonio Brown trade affects his value
The trade that sent Antonio Brown from Pittsburgh to Oakland doesn't help his fantasy value. But it could create a savvy buy-low opportunity for smart redraft and dynasty owners.
The circus is over: Antonio Brown is an Oakland Raider. We already know the team's [Super Bowl odds have shifted](https://www.betchicago.com/raiders-super-bowl-odds-drop-after-reported-antonio-brown-trade), but what about Brown's fantasy football stock? Is he still the elite receiver he was in Pittsburgh? If you listen closely, you can hear the collective sigh of fantasy owners who'd all but exiled Brown to Siberia after his [near-deal to Buffalo](https://www.betchicago.com/antonio-brown-bills-trade-buffalo-super-bowl-odds). Still, a move to the Bay Area (if only the 49ers were involved) isn't optimal for the greatest fantasy receiver of this generation. So how exactly does the move to Oakland affect Brown's fantasy value, in both redraft and dynasty leagues? ## Pittsburgh to Oakland is a fantasy downgrade for Brown's value Let me get this out of the way: this trade doesn't help Brown's value. For all the talk of Ben Roethlisberger aging, Le'Veon Bell leaving and JuJu Smith-Schuster stealing targets, Brown was a stud. The Steelers have been a fantasy haven since Brown's ascension in 2013. __NFL free agency:__ [Where will Le'Veon Bell sign? ](https://www.betchicago.com/nfl-free-agency-predictions-le'veon-bell-sign) I mean, really, just look at these numbers. Here is where Antonio Brown ranked among receivers since becoming a starter (with PPR stats [provided](https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/reports/leaders/ppr-wr.php?year=2018&start=1&end=17) by FantasyPros): __2018:__ No. 5 (323.7 points) (15 games) __2017:__ No. 1 (310.3) (14) __2016:__ No. 1 (307.3) (15) __2015:__ No. 1 (382.2) (16) __2014:__ No. 1 (380.9) (16) __2013:__ No. 3 (308.8) (15) That is historic production for the former sixth-round pick, who was shipped to the Raiders for a third- and fifth-rounder before being inked to a massive new deal. Yes, much of that production comes from Brown's elite route-running and ability to get open. But a scrambling Roethlisberger and talented supporting cast aided those numbers -- neither of which will be present in Oakland. __NFL offseason previews:__ [AFC West](https://www.betchicago.com/afc-west-free-agency-chiefs-chargers-broncos-raiders) | [AFC North](https://www.betchicago.com/afc-north-free-agency-cleveland-browns-nfl) Tight end Jared Cook, the Raiders' top target last year (896 yards, six touchdowns), could leave in free agency. Jordy Nelson (739 yards, three TDs) will be 34 next season. That's to say nothing of Brown's quarterback situation. Last year, Roethlisberger led all quarterbacks with a career-high 5,129 yards and 34 touchdowns. Derek Carr barely eclipsed 4,000 yards for the first time in his five-year career. There's always a trade-off when players go from great situations to barren ones: more attention from defenses, more targets to offset it. But targets have never been an issue for Brown, who's seen at least 150 balls thrown his way each of the past six years. ## Brown may be "scheme-proof" as fantasy option Perhaps that's the best case for Brown's value next season: his consistency. In those six seasons, Brown has amassed at least 100 catches, 1,250 yards and eight touchdowns every single year. For comparison, Stefon Diggs -- who ranked 10th among receivers in 2018 with 266.3 points -- finished with 102 catches for 1,021 yards and nine TDs. Oakland has produced one WR1 season in the Carr era, when Michael Crabtree finished 12th (239.3 points) in 2016 behind 1,003 yards and eight scores. Since then, the best finish was Amari Cooper (36th) in 2017 and Jordy Nelson (38th) in 2018. __MORE:__ [Is generational shift in store among 2019 fantasy wide receivers?](https://www.betchicago.com/fantasy-football-2019-wide-receiver-shift) Cooper's biggest issue has always been touchdowns; Brown finished with a career-high 15 scores last year, leading all receivers. The best case against Brown's potential success as a Raider might be Cooper's breakout after getting shipped to Dallas. But Cooper showed [clear lapses](https://twitter.com/mattwaldman/status/1044017718247215105?lang=en) of effort on film and his advanced numbers weren't much better when he left Oakland, suggesting it wasn't all scheme holding him back. In nine games with the Cowboys, Cooper saw 3.3 more targets per game than he did with the Raiders in 2018. But his catch rate (69.7 percent) was slightly worse, and his yards per catch (13.7 Y/C) was marginally better. Translation? Dallas simply used him more than Jon Gruden did in Oakland. Blame Gruden's throwback, run-heavy scheme, and your argument would have some merit. But the Raiders also just invested serious financial capital in Brown to be the face of the offense. Count me among those expecting a target share on par with his Pittsburgh days. Worried about defenses blanking Brown as a top receiver? Don't be. The former Pittsburgh star has consistently [performed well](https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/fantasy-football-metrics-that-matter-fun-with-cornerback-splits) against elite cornerbacks, and he'll get two games a year against the horrid Chiefs defense. ## What is Brown's value in redraft, dynasty leagues? Take one look at his yearly totals since 2013, and it's no surprise Brown has been a consensus first- or second-round for a half-decade. He was even bandied about as a potential top selection a year ago. That certainly won't be the case this year. Brown's floor may be rock solid, but a capped ceiling in Oakland should scare owners away from investing top draft capital in redraft leagues. Last year, Carr finished 31st among qualified quarterbacks in air yards per completion (a measure of a QB's ability to throw down the field), but he finished sixth in completion percentage. He also threw for a touchdown on 3.4 percent of his attempts, lowest of his career, and was sacked a career-high 51 times. In his first year under Gruden, Carr took a conservative approach behind a shaky offensive line. That's unlikely to change drastically in 2019. __MORE:__ [How Nick Foles affects Jaguars' fantasy options](https://www.betchicago.com/nick-foles-jacksonville-jaguars-fantasy-impact) Here's what it means for Brown: the 5-10 speedster likely won't have the time -- or freedom -- in Oakland's offense to sneak behind the secondary like he did so many times in Pittsburgh. But Carr's tendency to target short routes means Brown is an unlikely bust candidate in 2018. Personally, I probably won't be taking Brown in my drafts this summer. It only takes one owner in a redraft format to panic and chase name value in the early rounds. And that's fine. Wait a few picks for A.J. Green or Keenan Allen and reap the rewards. But that logic goes the other way, too. If fear of Carr and Gruden drives Brown into a secondary tier of receivers -- among the likes of Cooper, T.Y. Hilton and Brandin Cooks -- sign me up. Brown could easily be a league-winner if he slips too far. __MORE:__ [Running backs dominate 2019 PPR keeper rankings](https://www.betchicago.com/fantasy-football-2019-ppr-keeper-rankings-gurley-barkley) He's a sneaky buy in dynasty leagues, too, based purely on perception. Is he in a better situation in Oakland? No, clearly not. He's also still a perennial fantasy stud, and an antiquated offense with suspect talent around him doesn't strip away his target-hog potential. Plus, he'll only be 31 by the start of the season, with another two or three years of expected high-level production before Father Time steps in. I wouldn't ship him for any less than the two-firsts premium that most stars command -- and even that might not be enough. All told, this trade isn't great for Brown's fantasy value -- but it isn't terrible, either. He's still a solid buy in all formats and is a savvy investment for owners playing against public perception. So breathe easy, Antonio Brown owners. At least he didn't go to Buffalo. __Read more:__ [BetChicago fantasy football coverage](https://www.betchicago.com/fantasy-football)2019-03-11T01:19:08.893Z2019-03-10T17:30-07:00