AJ Brown, the former Mississippi star, set tongues wagging last season as he exploded onto the scene.
Currently the 11th ranked wide receiver on fantasypros dynasty rankings, he was the WR12 on the dynastyfootballdigests recent ECR dynasty rankings article. I feel I was a little low on Brown in hindsight due to the target share of 2019. He alleviated some of these concerns in his sole game in 2020 which I will go into in more depth below.
AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
➕ Size (6-0, 226lbs)
➕109.7 (90th-percentile) Speed Score
➕Production – most rec yds in school history
— Alex Johnson (@a_johnsonFF) April 19, 2019
The college star transitioned seamlessly to the pros, turning in a remarkable rookie season. He finished as the WR15 with 52 receptions, 1,051 yards and 8 receiving touchdowns (Brown also rushed for 1 touchdown). Most impressive is that between Weeks 12 and 16 Brown was the WR2, only scoring less points during that period than Michael Thomas.
The concerns for AJ Brown heading into 2020 were about his sustainability. Given his relatively low targets in 2019 (52 receptions on 84 targets) and his unrepeatable reception to touchdown ratio of 6.5:1, these concerns were justifiable. Worries over Brown’s production outlook would be a dominant theme in the narratives and discussions surrounding him this off-season.
A.J. Brown: most RECs gaining 50+ yards since 2019 (6) pic.twitter.com/tSnF7U0Diu
— PFF (@PFF) October 13, 2020
A.J. Brown's 8.9 yards after the catch average led all WRs in 2019pic.twitter.com/3IwCccQmhu
— PFF (@PFF) March 11, 2020
A knee injury plagued Brown’s start to the season, but he still managed 7 receptions on 9 targets, 82 yards and a touchdown in his return Week 5 against the Bills. The injured knee certainty did not hold him back. Week 1 against the Broncos was a more subdue outing, he was targeted 8 times, catching 5 of them for 39 yards.
The main concern would be the emergence of tight-end Jonnu Smith. Smith has five touchdowns for the year in only four games. Three of the five touchdowns are in the two games that AJ Brown played. It will be interesting to monitor red zone targets in the weeks ahead, as we get a larger sample size of the pair playing together.
Week 5’s performance against the Buffalo Bills has allayed some of these concerns, as has Ryan Tannehill’s performances. With Derrick Henry a nightmare for opposing defences, teams must respect the run, which in turn provides channels and opportunities for Brown.
The Titans offence has turned into a top 5 unit. They are averaging the 4th most offensive touchdowns per game, ahead of offences like the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. The Titans are also averaging the 5th most first downs per game, with 24.2.
Fellow Mississippi alumni D.K. Metcalf is stealing a lot of the headlines and is some people’s current top ranked WR in dynasty. Brown is someone who by season’s end should be in everyone’s top 10 WR rankings.
This route by A.J. Brown 🔥🔥
— PFF (@PFF) October 13, 2020
I am a big AJ Brown fan – what he managed to produce after the catch in his rookie season was outstanding. Brown finished as the 5th best WR in terms of YAC, behind only Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. To finish as high as he did on only 52 receptions shows not just his physical gifts, but also the aptitudinal talent and fortitude he possesses. I am firmly of the belief Brown’s targets will go up per game compared to last year. He will be a more consistent, reliable player for your fantasy teams. If he is as high as a top 5 ranked WR by season’s end, I will not be surprised.