One of the biggest personnel losses the Baltimore Ravens experienced in the offseason came in the trade that sent wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers. However, a surprising youngster has emerged to fill that void for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Marlon Brown has become not just a viable receiver for the Ravens, but also a startable option for fantasy owners.
Brown went undrafted back in April, due in large part to a torn ACL suffered last November. But the Ravens brought the 6'5" former Georgia standout in for a tryout, no doubt because of their need at the receiver position.
As Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports pointed out back in August, it didn't take Brown long to make an impression in Baltimore:
Marlon Brown has looked smooth all night. Not like a rookie. And definitely not like an undrafted rookie.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 23, 2013
Once the season started, it didn't take him long to make an impression on fantasy football enthusiasts either.
In PPR formats
Brown's solid showing in his NFL debut made him something of a trendy pickup off the waiver wire. And after snaring another touchdown pass in his second game, he was snatched up in the leagues where he was still available.
The Ravens' official Twitter account pointed out this very interesting stat following Week 2:
WR Marlon Brown became the first Raven to score a TD in each of his first two career games.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 16, 2013
But Brown then went ice-cold in last week's big win over the Houston Texans, making only two catches for six yards.
That disappearing act led many fantasy owners to bench him this week against the Buffalo Bills. But those same fantasy owners are now kicking themselves, as, for the third time in four games, Brown found the end zone.
So, which is it? Is Brown a star in the making and a weekly fantasy start, or is he just a flash in the pan and fool's gold for fantasy owners?
The truth, as it usually does, lies somewhere in the middle.
The odds are pretty good that Brown isn't going to catch the 12 touchdown passes he's on pace to reel in. Also, it's worth pointing out that, entering Week 4, he didn't have more than four catches in a game, which caps his upside a bit in PPR formats.
Still, three touchdowns in four games is three touchdowns in four games, and Brown has now posted double-digit fantasy points (in leagues that award a point for catches) in three of four contests. So long as he keeps catching the ball, Joe Flacco is going to keep targeting him.
The Ravens badly need someone to fill the role of intermediate receiver with Boldin gone and Dennis Pitta on the shelf with a hip injury. To this point, Brown has done that well, and his height makes him a very nice target for fade routes in the red zone.
Granted, it's unlikely that fantasy owners are going to start confusing Marlon Brown with Julio Jones any time soon. However, as a third wide receiver, fantasy owners could do a lot worse—and Brown owners in dynasty leagues should be especially grateful.
After all, it's not every day that teams are able to pluck young fantasy starters off of the waiver wire.