The Dynasty Economist article series displays a current player’s value in the dynasty community. From this, I will outline statistics that will give evidence to indicate if each player is better or worse than that perceived value.
If I told you that AJ Brown had 250 less yards and one less touchdown than third year reciever Chris Godwin had last season, would you believe me? Despite having recently acquired Las Vegas Backup, Marcus Mariota starting 6 games, and having quarterbacks that combined for less than 4000 yards, the above statement is true. To put this quarterback play into perspective, that is 1106 less passing yards than Winston had with Godwin. Who would have thought that we would be saying this about a receiver in Tennessee that isn’t named Corey Davis? 2019 second round pick, AJ Brown, has burst onto the fantasy scene in wicked style. His smooth grabs and ability to make any route into a house call have already landed him at our MasterDrafter Dynasty consensus WR9 behind DJ Moore and ahead of Kenny Golladay. However, is the community over reacting from last year’s magical season in Tennessee?
If you haven’t watched much of Tennessee you need to get your popcorn ready and check out AJ Brown’s highlights. And if you are wondering which player he is on the field, just look for the largest man. Even though Brown is listed as 6’1 226lbs somehow he seems to be larger than everyone else. He has displayed the ability to out muscle corners to get to the ball in a Julio Jones / AJ Green type fashion. This helped him reach 1,051 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 52 receptions in the regular season. That line on it’s own is impressive, but let’s dive deeper into the stats. Going into the 2019 NFL Draft, expert rookie analyst Matt Waldman had AJ Brown as his third overall rookie, and gave him the best blocking grade for a receiver in the class. Since Tannehill took over from weeks 7-17, Brown caught 36% of Tannehill’s passing touchdowns, and had a fantastic 21% target share. Thankfully, the Titans signed Tannehill to a 4-year-deal, meaning there should be more production where that came from. Also interestingly enough, Derrick Henry got franchise tagged. Although Tennessee is a run first team, based on the recent failures of star back’s big money contracts hurting teams (see Todd Gurley and David Johnson) something tells me the Titans will be more tentative to sign Henry long term. This plan especially makes sense when they feed him the rock 25+ times a game. Ultimately, this could also mean that although AJ Brown was already successful on a run first team, Tennessee could very easily become more pass heavy in the years to come.
Although it’s easy to get lost in all the positives, we can try and dig up some potential knocks to AJ Brown’s fantasy stock. The first being that the team is a very run heavy. I am speculating Henry does not get a long term deal, however, it is only speculation after all. He could very well be signed to a long term contract and possibly even become the next Frank Gore (sticking around for 15+ years). This concern was very evident in the playoffs when the Titans game planned to throw as little as possible. Tannehill passed 29 times collectively in the first two rounds of the playoffs. People would have said it’s impossible to pass that little and win games, but somehow they did it. This shouldn’t happen in the regular season, but come fantasy playoffs, if the Titans are fighting for a playoff spot who knows if they go back to this recipe. Tennessee also led the league in red zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown on a whopping 77.36% of it’s redzone drives (Green Bay came in second with 67.86%). That is way above the league average and tends to be a statistic that doesn’t stick with teams for consecutive seasons. Thankfully, AJ Brown got his production mostly off of yards, but it’s still worth noting the Titan’s touchdown efficiency.
Overall, you have to be excited when a promising young receiver breaks out like AJ Brown did. Even with his value as high as it currently is, I think you need to hold if you have him and enjoy the ride. However, if you don’t have him, it’s not a bad idea to ask your leaguemate what his price is. For example, I could get behind the idea of trading Chris Godwin for AJ Brown and a 2nd. This is based on the beginning of this article and the signing of 42-year-old Tom Brady, but we won’t get into that, at least not yet.