A.J. Brown Fantasy Football Preview

A.J. Brown

Since 1998, there have been 68 rookie wide receivers that have seen more than 50 targets. Only ten of them have averaged double-digit yards per target. A.J. Brown holds the crown (12.5) ahead of studs like JuJu Smith-Schuster (11.6), Randy Moss (10.6), Julio Jones (10.1), and Odell Beckham Jr (10). Brown sure has the look of an NFL superstar.

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A.J. Brown Fantasy Football Preview for 2020

A Look Back at 2019

A.J. Brown was drafted 51st overall by the Tennessee Titans last year out of Ole Miss. Most people seemed to like Brown from a talent standpoint but generally hated the landing spot. The Titans had Marcus Mariota at the helm and were a generally more conservative, run-heavy team.

Like most rookies, especially wide receivers, A.J. Brown started slow. Through the first month of the season, his offensive snap count was less than 50% in each game. Before the Titans’ Week 11 bye, Brown only played in one game where he was on the field for more than 70% of the offensive snaps, and that was Week 10.

Brown flashed massive upside and big playmaking ability in the first ten weeks of the year but was very inconsistent. In this stretch, A.J. averaged 4.5 targets, 2.7 receptions, 44.6 yards, and 0.3 touchdowns per game. Coming out of the bye week, things looked drastically different. Brown played 70% or more of offensive snaps the rest of the way. His averages jumped to 6.5 targets, 4.2 receptions, 100.8 yards, and 0.8 touchdowns per game during this stretch.

At season’s end, Brown’s late-season surge pushed him to a strong finish. He was the WR30 in terms of PPR points per game with 13.57, second among all rookie wide receivers behind only Terry McLaurin. He was still able to finish first among all rookie receivers as the WR21 in terms of overall PPR points with 217.1. Ultimately, it was a very promising rookie season and with the way he finished the year, he looks to be busting down the door to superstardom.

Previewing 2020

Looking towards 2020, A.J. Brown is a very divisive player. Brown is the ultimate test of the “talent vs. opportunity” debate. Generally, opportunity outweighs talent considering you can’t score fantasy points if you don’t have the opportunity. Sometimes, however, the talent is just too good to ignore, which may be the case with AJB.

When a talent like this shines as bright as Brown did his rookie season, it can also lead to more opportunity. This is exactly what every person who drafts A.J. in 2020 will be hoping. The perfect storm would be if he can keep his incredible efficiency as high as it is while also increasing the volume.

Looking at his efficiency levels as a rookie, the only word that comes to mind is otherworldly. By any meaningful metric you look at, AJB thrived. Looking at yards per target, Brown led the NFL (12.51) in 2020 among all wide receivers and second in NFL history among all rookie wide receivers with at least 50 targets behind only Kenny Stills. Moving to yards per reception, A.J. was third in the NFL (20.21) in 2020 among all wide receivers and sixth in NFL history among all rookie wide receivers with at least 25 receptions. Even looking at yards per route run, yep, you guessed it, AJB is near the league lead for 2020 and one of the best rookie numbers in NFL history.

While the regression police have come out in droves saying that this type of efficiency is completely unsustainable, and they’re probably right, Brown still has a path to fantasy dominance. The Titans threw fewer passes than any team in the NFL outside of Baltimore. The team pass attempts seem almost assuredly to increase in 2020. If the passing volume goes up and Brown can continue to see the target share and snap counts he saw down the stretch in 2019, it can mitigate the inevitable regression in efficiency and allow Brown to be a great fantasy option in 2020.

A.J. Brown ADP

Brown is currently going as the 41st player overall off the board as the WR15 according to Fantasypros. That puts him in the same range as Zach Ertz, James Conner, Mark Andrews, and Jonathan Taylor. Cooper Kupp and Calvin Ridley are the wide receivers being drafted before and after him.

Brown’s current ADP seems about right although I have him just slightly lower. He’s a part of that borderline WR1/2 group where you can make a case for any of them and can’t go wrong either way. He’s the WR19 on my board. That’s less a knock on AJB himself and speaks more to the depth at wide receiver this season.

After a promising rookie year, the buzz around Brown is deafening. While he has all the talent in the world, the otherworldly efficiency he and Tannehill showed last year is assuredly going to regress. When it does, I don’t think there will be enough pass volume to make up the difference needed to allow him to be a truly elite option. I love the player and think he will be perfectly fine if he’s your WR2, but those hoping for WR1 production may end up a bit disappointed.

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