Antonio Brown's Updated Fantasy Stock After Reported Trade to Bills

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates sho touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

When NFL Network's Ian Rapoport broke the news that the Pittsburgh Steelers were "closing in on a deal" that would send receiver Antonio Brown to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, teams around the NFL were not the only ones wondering what the ramifications of the trade would be.

Fantasy football owners will also be left wondering what Brown's value becomes in 2019 and beyond if a deal does in fact get done with the Bills.

It is important to note Vic Carucci of BNblitz.com followed Rapoport's report by tweeting that an NFL source confirmed to him that Buffalo has inquired about Brown. However, different source told Carucci that a deal appears "unlikely."

Any completed deal to Buffalo, though, would significantly impact Brown's fantasy value.

Brown had earned his place amongst the top wideouts in all of football as he had seven Pro Bowl selections in nine years in the Steel City. Thanks to a strong connection with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he put up six consecutive 1,200-yard seasons and four double-digit touchdown performances in the last five years.

There is no denying the 5'10", 181-pound receiver has the skill set to be a playmaker wherever he goes, but it's hard to imagine him continuing to put up the silly numbers that fantasy owners had grown accustomed to through the years as he heads to Buffalo.

For starters, the Bills ranked 31st (out of 32 teams) in passing a season ago. Those struggles can be partly attributed to a quarterback carousel that saw four different players (Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen, Matt Barkley and Derek Anderson) make at least one start last season.

Meanwhile, Buffalo has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2015 (Sammy Watkins)—and it's been even longer since the franchise has had anyone reach 1,200 yards, as Rotoworld's Evan Silva points out:

Evan Silva @evansilva

Antonio Brown has topped 1200 receiving yards in 6 straight seasons. #Bills haven't had a 1200-yard receiver since 2006 (Lee Evans). https://t.co/dUWC0MLrDH

Zay Jones (652 yards) was the team's leading receiver last season, with only one other player (Robert Foster, 541) recording more than 400 yards. Of note, Brown had more receiving yards (1,297 to 1,193) and touchdowns (15 to 10) than the Bills' top two receivers combined.

Brown will almost certainly be the leader of the receiving corps in Buffalo. However, with Allen and LeSean McCoy in the backfield, the Bills do not figure to air it out the way the Steelers do. And it will be tough for Brown to replicate the chemistry he had with Roethlisberger, especially when plays broke down.

It's also worth mentioning Buffalo does not currently have a No. 2 opposite of Brown who is on the same level as JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Silva noted an interesting stat in regards to Allen, who led the Bills both in rushing yards (631) and rushing touchdowns (eight):

Evan Silva @evansilva

#Bills Josh Allen was the No. 1 overall fantasy QB in Weeks 12-17 last year. He just added Antonio Brown.

Indeed, Allen's fantasy value figures to rise with the addition of Brown, but fantasy owners may want to proceed with caution before using a top pick on the receiver, whereas he was a safe top-five pick throughout his Steelers career.

JJ Zachariason @LateRoundQB

Pittsburgh's rank in pass attempts over the last three years: 2016 -- 9th 2017 -- 6th 2018 -- 1st Antonio Brown's rank in WR target share: 2016 -- 7th (15 games) 2017 -- 5th (14 games) 2018 -- 10th (15 games) It's unlikely we see AB's fantasy value rise outside of Pittsburgh.

Ben Standig @BenStandig

I wonder which WR goes first in fantasy drafts next season. It won't be Antonio Brown if he's on the Bills.

Brad Evans @YahooNoise

Antonio Brown is going to sorely regret his extreme level of self-absorption. Welcome to Buffalo, and Round 3 of fantasy football drafts. And that price point might be overselling.

ESPN's Matthew Berry had Brown ranked 15th for 2019 PPR leagues prior to the trade. Now that he appears to be going to the Bills, his status as a top-tier fantasy option is in jeopardy.