April 13, 2024

Dynasty Dilemma: Marquise Brown

8 min read

Dynasty Dilemma: Marquise Brown

By: Dylan Schroeder

 

Since the start of free agency, the Arizona Cardinals have been all quiet on the western front. In fact, really the only news connected to this team since the start of the league new year – other than some pretty minor acquisitions – have been trade rumors surrounding the future of their star wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.

Well, and the continuous flow of memes targeting the franchise quarterback and the always awkward social media hype video of a new coach meeting their players. These players always claim, "I'm ready to get to work" in the middle of a quick dap-up with the new boss, but how many of these guys are truly, legitimately, absolutely ready to put in the needed work to pull this squad out from the depths of the NFL's basement? Arizona hasn't won a playoff game since 2015! Kyler Murray had just wrapped up his freshman season at Texas A&M! 

Anyway, speaking of DeAndre Hopkins, he has shown he still has the ability to play football at a very high level. Despite being a little long in the tooth and participating in a lengthy suspension to start last season, he paced himself for a career high in receptions. With where he’s at in his career, Murray recovering from surgery, and (whispers) a looming reset in Arizona, it makes sense for both parties to move on from each other. However, finding a trade partner has been tricky given how much money he’s going to be due by the end of next season, along with a few other factors. 

While the Cardinals are steadily shopping him, and teams are reportedly kicking the tires, I expect something to get done. At the very latest, I see Hopkins becoming part of a draft-day trade that brings him elsewhere.  

What does this mean for the outlook of a returning asset like Marquise Brown? Greatness. Buy! Buy! Buy! 

At only 25 years old, Marquise Brown is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. There’s a high possibility that he’s extended by Arizona at some point this upcoming season since they were willing to move a first-round pick for him at last year’s NFL Draft. Even with the departure of Kliff Kingsbury, I'd imagine the front office and Kyler Murray are heavily interested in keeping "Hollywood" in Phoenix. To be honest, if he ends up testing free agency, he's still a fascinating dynasty piece given his age, talent, and versatility as a receiver. 

Now, there’s a new regime in Arizona, but they still need pass catchers. Outside of Marquise Brown, we’re looking at a team finding targets for Rondale Moore, Trey McBride, the corpse of Zach Ertz, a cluster of dissatisfying running backs, and the remaining leftover pieces from Kingsbury’s island of misfit, offensive toys. Arizona didn't chase any marquee free agents and is likely to add a playmaker or two during the draft, but of the offensive players, Marquise Brown is not like the others. Additionally, there are too many holes in the boat to focus solely on patching up the wide receiver room until maybe the third round or later.       

Most importantly in this equation, Brown is really, really talented. In fact, he has shown us that he is straight-up electricity when he has been on the field for the last few years. Unfortunately, he has had a complicated last couple of seasons connected to injuries for himself and those around him. 

Note: Everything is looked at under the lens of a 1/2 PPR league because that's my personal preference. Moving to a full PPR only marginally changes some of the referenced rankings. 

From Week One through Six, Marquise Brown was the wide receiver 6 in points per game and the wide receiver 5 in targets when he earned 10.7 per game. He was on a 17-game pace of 181 targets, 122 receptions, 1,374 yards, and 8 touchdowns! Extrapolating his six best weeks over the course of an entire season isn't the answer to everything, but it shows that his ceiling was in the ballpark of finishing as a WR1. It's not outlandish to think that he could finish as a WR1 or a fringe WR1 this upcoming year, which would smash his current value, especially if/when a Hopkins trade creates even less competition for targets.

After a scorching start this past season, Brown suffered a foot injury that removed him from his next five contests, and after returning from injury, he was without his starting quarterback for five of the last six games.

While the question for Brown is often a game of asking yourself "what if," it's actually much simpler -- who's playing quarterback?

Going back to the 2021 season, Brown finished as the WR23 overall and WR25 in PPG (10 game minimum), which feels disappointing, especially when you consider that Brown started the season on absolute fire like he did this past year.

In 2021, with a healthy Lamar Jackson (W1-10), Marquise Brown was the WR8 overall and the WR9 in points per game. The rest of the way, Brown was the WR61 (!!!) overall. It has never been a question of talent with Brown, but given his specific situations, he has not been able to become quarterback proof.

His hot start in 2021 carried over from how he finished his 2020 season, which led to him dominating the final Week 12-17 stretch of the season where he was the WR11. From then on, Baltimore sprayed him with targets and found more creative ways to get him the ball to increase their underdeveloped passing attack. They doubled down on  Brown his final season in Baltimore and saw tremendous results until Jackson got injured. We saw that same player make an immediate impact in the desert, as he has shown he is an dynamic player over and over again.

As a receiver, Marquise Brown has consistently improved, and has truly been able to win at each level of the field for a couple of seasons now. The speedster has become a terrific route runner that isn't afraid to dust a defensive back with or without the ball in his hands, rather than just being boxed into a field stretching go-route artist like your league-mates think he is. As he is clocking into the final year of his deal, I expect a big season from Brown that will lead to a long term deal connected to Kyler Murray or a situation that will use him for the player he is -- a game changer.

It's not impossible for Kyler Murray to return for the first week of the season, but it's more likely that he with miss a handful of games to start his 2023 campaign. During that stretch, it's hard to believe the Arizona Cardinals are going to be an offense burning with desirable fantasy pieces. And even once Murray does return, you aren't guaranteed strong production from him so quickly after a serious injury. Obviously this puts obstacles in the path of Marquise Brown returning to the auto-start he has been for your lineup during various stretches of the last three seasons.

As one of the largest Hollywood fans in this community, I'm still waiting for him to put together a complete season. Not half of a season. Not a six or seven game stretch. I need the whole season of greatness from him. After the trade to Arizona last year, there were so many believers in Marquise Brown that "Hollywood Island" started to feel like a tourist trap. As his value slowly plummeted after being placed on IR to where we are at this moment, I feel like I just turned on Animal Crossing for the first time and am scavenging shells on the beach without a soul in sight. It's just Tom Nook, Timmy, Tommy, and myself waiting for visitors.

A large component to Marquise Brown's discounted value actually requires DeAndre Hopkins to be traded. While it looks unlikely, there is still a scenario where he ends up riding out this next season in Arizona.

While the majority of Brown's games played with DeAndre Hopkins were without the starting quarterback, he did see about three less targets per game than he was accustomed to.

During that span, he saw his fantasy points per game shrink from 14.7 to 5.8 per contest. Again, quarterback play heavily influences this, but there's still shrinkage!

Even if you're looking to sell Marquise Brown right now, you shouldn't because of how low the value has dropped.

 

Everyone in dynasty is a buy at the right price, and currently, Marquise Brown is a gem on the clearance rack. According to various consensus rankings online, he's a fringe WR2 and often a WR3. Absurd.

I've seen the future! While there is likely a slow start in the making without Murray, Hollywood will still command targets. As the season progresses, he will be mentioned as an early "league winner" candidate because of the price it took to obtain him. Over the back half of the year, he will likely be putting together his 4th straight season of showing his ceiling as a week-to-week WR1.

Dynasty is simple -- invest in really talented, young players that the community is losing interest in.

It might be scary to invest in a player who ended the season so poorly and left a bitter taste in your mouth, but that's exactly why you can go get him at an affordable price. There are few guys who can break open a game or stretch of games the way that Hollywood can. He's due to put together a full season, and you can get in at a very cheap price.

Players within the realm of Marquise Brown's consensus dynasty ranking that I'd be willing to give up for Brown, especially if I can get Brown and another asset: DJ Moore, Christian Watson, Terry McLaurin, Jerry Jeudy, Brandon Aiyuk, George Pickens, Jahan Dotson, Christian Kirk, Rashod Bateman, and more. I'd also be willing to move a late first for him!

 

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