Dynasty Dilemma: AJ Brown
by Tim Lazenby
AJ Brown of the Tennessee Titans is one of the best players in the league at his position. He’s got the size, speed and elusiveness that are an absolute rarity. In many ways, this isn’t a dilemma at all with all he brings to the table, but after such a regression last season, many are perplexed at his value heading into the 2022 season.
The Reason to Sell
Let’s face it; last season was not a good time for AJ Brown. Despite being in one of the best opportunities in the National Football League, Brown did many fantasy owners quite a disservice in 2021. Virtually all his numbers took a big step down from 2020, leading us to wonder just what kind of value we actually have in the Mississippi alum.
The 2021 Season
Without looking at the numbers, do you have any guess where AJ Brown finished last season as a wide receiver? The WR32; just 0.4 points above Kendrick Bourne. To put things in perspective, in 2020, he finished as the WR12, in only his second season. Despite only one less target from the year before, the efficiency drop was astounding.
Poor Quarterback Play
A receiver is only as effective as the person throwing him the ball. In 2020, Ryan Tannehill was amazing. He finished as QB7, ahead of the likes of Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford to name a few. The drop off was insane. Even with 50 more pass attempts, Tannehill threw almost 100 yards less, 36% less touchdowns and twice as many interceptions. Notably, which were closer to his career averages. You wonder if this is what we can expect of AJ Brown’s quarterback moving forward.
The Reason to Buy
Even some of the best players ever have the dreaded third regression. It’s not completely unheard of to progress the first two seasons, only to dip significantly in year three. Looking at all the reasons we love AJ Brown, is it really impossible to see him going back in the direction of the receiving elite? Here are some supporting arguments.
Lack of Depth
Not to say that the Titans are lacking talent at wide receiver, but the core isn’t like some of the other division winners last season. AJ Brown simply has a stranglehold on the target share in Tennessee. Despite only playing 13 games, he had almost twice as many targets thrown his way than the next closest wide receiver. Not to mention Brown lit up for twice as many big plays than his closest competitor on the team.
Return of the King
The dynamic in virtually every capacity changed once Derrick Henry went down in week 8 last season. Henry only had two weeks with less than 28 rushing attempts, crossing 33 twice. Defenses must bring so much of their focus on the King, leaving everyone else less guarded. With Henry down, everything changed and with Henry back next season, Brown’s production can only skyrocket. We can’t underestimate this truth.
While AJ Brown may have the talent to be otherworldly, the fantasy community may be looking at him a little too fondly. Experts consistently have him ranked right behind phenoms Chase and Jefferson, right at the top of tier 2. I’ve yet to see him lower than 5 on any dynasty ranking chart, but is this where he should truly sit?
AJ Brown is not alone when it comes to valuing a player based on what he can do, rather than what he has done. Despite finishing as WR12 in 2020, many considered him to be WR2 in dynasty. Even with the horrendous finish last season, to rank him in the top 5, let alone 3rd is a little rich. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a true WR1 on almost any team, but because everyone values him so highly, I’d sell due to the profit.
Tim Lazenby just joined Dynasty Pros, after writing for a few years elsewhere, and is passionate about all things fantasy football. Tim has been playing fantasy sports for over twenty years now and takes his love of the game to every article he writes. Although he’s played a variety of fantasy football, he is especially in love with dynasty football. If you ask him for advice, whether you’re just joining or you’ve been playing for years, he wants nothing more than to help you succeed, than to keep that fantasy gold to himself. A lover of the game and ultimate competitor, Tim is just trying to spread the good news of fantasy football to all.