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Antonio Brown's 2019 Fantasy Stock After Reported Trade to Raiders

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2019

In this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, left, talks to former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch as he stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he's disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown's camp. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Antonio Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night for a third- and fifth-round pick, moving the NFL's best receiver to the West Coast and leaving fantasy football players to ponder how Brown's value will be impacted.

With Ben Roethlisberger throwing him passes, Brown was a fantasy legend, registering six straight seasons with at least 100 receptions, 1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. But Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer, while Derek Carr's career, to this point, has been largely inconsistent.

That raises the first question: How much will Carr impact Brown's fantasy output?

Evan Silva @evansilva

Thoughts after Antonio Brown trade: * AB/Rosenhaus by far biggest winners with big raise & > $30M guaranteed * Great deal #Raiders on paper but Gruden team building remains nonsensical * AB wont like playing w Derek Carr * #Steelers squandered insane amt of talent last decade

Evan Silva @evansilva

Antonio Brown #fantasyfootball fallout obviously huge. * JuJu Smith-Schuster enters 1st-rd mix * James Washington obvious breakout candidate * Vance McDonald, Ryan Switzer other in-house beneficiaries * AB still projects for huge target % but efficiency dip all but certain

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

Gruden has always been able to get great production from his WRs. Look at the numbers put up by Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, Keyshawn Johnson and Joey Galloway when they played for him. He knows how to design plays to get his WR1 the rock. @AB84 will be a major player in OAK/LV.

Let's look at the top fantasy wideouts from each of Carr's five seasons:

  • 2014: James Jones (73 receptions for 666 yards and six scores)
  • 2015: Amari Cooper (72 receptions for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns) and Michael Crabtree (85 receptions for 922 yards and nine scores)
  • 2016: Cooper (83 receptions for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns) and Crabtree (89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight scores)
  • 2017: Jared Cook (54 receptions for 688 yards and two scores), Cooper (48 receptions for 680 yards and seven touchdowns) and Crabtree (58 receptions for 618 yards and eight scores)
  • 2018: Cook (68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns) and Jordy Nelson (63 receptions for 739 yards and three scores)

Most of Brown's upside is dependent on which Carr shows up for Oakland in 2019—the player from 2015-16, who threw for 60 touchdowns to just 19 interceptions and was an MVP candidate in the 2016 campaign, leading the Raiders to the playoffs before a season-ending injury, or the player who has struggled mightily the past two seasons (41 touchdowns and 23 picks).

Carr wasn't good in 2018, though he wasn't entirely to blame. The team traded Cooper midseason, his best wideout, and in general Carr was bereft of weapons. Still, going from Roethlisberger to the Carr we've seen the past two seasons is a downgrade, no questions asked. That will hurt Brown's output at least slightly.

JJ Zachariason @LateRoundQB

OAK had 556 pass attempts last season. PIT has averaged 625 over the last three years, with the single-season low being 590. Would expect Raiders to be more pass-heavy, but the point is AB has less room for error in target share. Needs a bump to get close to old fantasy value.

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Josh Dubow @JoshDubowAP

Antonio Brown was held under 30 yards receiving twice in 92 games the past six seasons. Amari Cooper was held under 30 yards receiving 19 times in 52 games with the #Raiders

The other factor to consider is that Brown will be 31 during the 2019 season. While he's shown little sign of slowing down—he caught 15 touchdown passes last year, for heaven's sake—he won't be able to produce at an elite level forever. It seems unlikely that next year will be the beginning of an inevitable decline, but it's certainly worth monitoring.

Field Yates @FieldYates

Antonio Brown since 2014: * 576 catches; 52 more than any other player * 59 receiving TD; 14 more than any other player * 2,204 receiving yards and 21 TD in the 4th Q; both league highs * At least 100 catches in each season, 1,529 yards per season

Finally, Oakland doesn't have any other dangerous weapons—at least for the time being—to take the focus off Brown. In Pittsburgh, defenses had to worry about JuJu Smith-Schuster and either James Conner or Le'Veon Bell.

In Oakland, at present, Brown is the team's only elite weapon. That will garner him a level of attention from defenses he didn't receive in Pittsburgh, unless Oakland improves in that regard as the offseason progresses.

These are all concerns, but Brown has earned your trust. He may not be fantasy's top receiver this season, but he should still be a top-10 option. It's fair to move him out of the first round in drafts, but continue to treat him like a WR1.

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