Dynasty Sell: A.J. Brown
I get a ton of trade questions asked to me all the time, and one player that has probably come up the most as of late is A.J. Brown. Everyone loves him, and I get it. PFF has him as the 9th highest projected wide receiver for 2020. He had a really good rookie season. He finished the year as the WR21 in ppr scoring with 217 fantasy points. I just wrote an article that talked about Yards Per Route Run and he was top of the list. He averaged just over 20 yards per reception, which is elite. That ranked third. These are good metrics. They show he's efficient. So why am I calling him a sell? It's all about perceived value, and I think the excitement over A.J. Brown is worth more than the actual production he will give you.
The numbers I just listed off are good, but they don't guarantee continued fantasy success. The problem with A.J. Brown is he is stuck in a run-heavy system. If you watched the playoffs this season, you saw what Derrick Henry did. That's not likely to change anytime soon with Tennessee trying to workout a long-term deal with King Henry. Henry is going to demand 300 carries per season. That will continue to keep Tannehill's passing attempts down. The Titans only attempted 448 passes last season. Only the Baltimore Ravens attempted fewer passes. It only allowed Brown to see 84 targets, which was outside of the Top 40. "AJ's always open," but he's not always targeted. I mentioned he was the WR21, but in points per game he was only the WR31. Here are the list of wide receivers over the past five season's to receive 84 targets and the fantasy points they scored.
- 2019: A.J. Brown – 217 points / WR21
- 2018: Courtland Sutton – 136 points / WR48
- 2017: Sterling Shepard – 144 points / WR42
- 2016: Randall Cobb – 148 points / WR52
- 2015: Stephon Diggs – 149 points / WR46
Yes, I do expect Brown's targets to go up this year, but not drastically. Even if they do go up, it will be hard for his efficiency to stay that high. A big part of Brown's success came from the fact that he was 7th in the league in receiving touchdowns with eight. That made up for 22% of his fantasy points. His touchdown rate was 10th in the league. That's one of the more concerning metrics as touchdowns are very volatile from year to year.
If that weren't enough, Brown wasn't demanding near the amount of targets from his own team that you'd like to see for an elite wide receiver. Elite wide receivers account for target shares near 30%, 25% at the minimum. Brown's 19.5% was also outside of the Top 40. Cole Beasley had a higher target share in Buffalo. Fantasy football is volume driven and volume is not something we can count on with Brown.
All of what I mentioned is not the reason I'm saying you should sell A.J. Brown in dynasty. The reason is that is because I think there are A LOT of fantasy players out there who are overvaluing him. I'm seeing it in the trade questions I get as well as where I'm seeing some analysts rank him.
I do have him ranked inside the Top 25. So it's not like I'm low on him. This is not a situation where I think you should trade A.J. Brown to just get out. However, if you can get Top 12 / 1st Round dynasty startup value for him, then I'm saying you should easily pull that trigger. Stefon Diggs was in a similar spot a few years ago. At one point he was valued inside the top 10 based on age and efficiency, and dynasty owners would have been smart to cash out at that point, because he never received the volume to keep him ranked that high and his ADP eventually fell. The players I have ranked inside the Top 12 are much MUCH more likely to help you win a fantasy championship than Brown. If you can get a player like Deebo Samuel, who FantasyPros has ranked outside of the Top 50 and a 1st round pick for Brown, that's another type of move I'd consider. Again, it's all about value, and right now I think the value you can get for Brown is very good.
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