From Oakland to New England, let’s take a look at how Antonio Brown impacts both teams from a fantasy football perspective
Stock up: WR – JJ Nelson
With Antonio Brown out of Oakland, Nelson becomes the de facto number two receiver and should see a significant increase in targets. Though Nelson has some consistency issues, he should be a nice addition to your waiver wire list before it’s too late. Currently dealing with an ankle sprain, Nelson is questionable for Monday’s night tilt with the Broncos.
Stock up: WR – Hunter Renfrow
There is a lot to like about Renfrow, but the reality is he’s still a rookie and has a bit to learn. Renfrow’s biggest contribution should come from the slot where Antonio Brown was slated to do most of his damage. Derek Carr had the third shortest depth of target last year and I don’t expect that to change much this year, making Renfrow a prime quick slant target. Of course, he also has to beat out fellow WR Ryan Grant which shouldn’t be too hard.
Stock up: TE – Darren Waller
The budding young tight end all of a sudden finds himself in a prime spot to shine. We saw what Jared Cook was able to do last season and there’s no arguing the importance of the tight end in John Gruden‘s offense. I think it’s worth bumping up Waller in your 2019 TE rankings a few spots. He could pay a huge ROI for those who used a late round pick on him, especially if you punted the TE position in your drafts.
Stock up: RB – Josh Jacobs
Into the fire he goes. There’s no question the offense will rest on the shoulders of rookie Josh Jacobs. I’d expect a bump up in his touch projections this season and though it might be tough sledding against stacked boxes, in fantasy volume is king.
Stock neutral: WR – Tyrell Williams
Williams may see a slight bump in targets but will now have to deal with top coverage and struggles mightily with press coverage. With no other major threats to free Williams up, I expect his bump in targets to be neutralized by the WR1 treatment he’ll receive from defenses. The one trick go up and get it pony shouldn’t be moved up or down in your season long rankings.
Stock down: QB – Derek Carr
Already on the fringe of being a questionable starting QB in fantasy outside of superlfex leagues, the loss of Antonio Brown is undoubtedly a huge blow to Carr’s value. Expecting the Raiders to lean on rookie RB Josh Jacobs even more, Carr can be left on your bench or waivers this season outside of superflex or two QB leagues.
New England Patriots
Stock up: RB – Sony Michel
The running lanes should open even more for Michel this season with teams having to deal with arguably three WR1s in New England. I don’t expect his volume to change but his opportunity per touch just got a little better.
Stock up: WR – Julian Edelman
It shouldn’t matter where Edelman lines up this season because Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon will spread defenses thin and the PPR monster should eat. Health is always a concern but Edelman is a safe bet to finish as a mid WR2 to fringe WR1 with the addition of Brown in New England.
Stock up: QB – Tom Brady
Stock neutral: WR – Josh Gordon
Gordon has a specific role in this offense, and I don’t think the arrival of Brown will stop that. A big play down field threat will see his fair share of targets on play-action passes when defenses need to stop Michel from running wild on the ground.
Stock neutral: WR – Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown isn’t the top dog in town anymore. He will have to learn to exist within their system if he wants to play ball and that will come at the expense of his normal target share. The balance to that will be arguably the greatest QB of all time throwing him the ball and not Derek Carr.
Stock neutral: RB – James White
Like Gordon, White has a specific role in this offense and should continue to be a viable PPR RB who can take a screen pass to the house at any time. I wouldn’t worry too much about his usage as he’ll still play a vital role in New England’s passing game.
Stock down: WR – Demaryius Thomas
Thomas went from being a possible WR3 on their depth chart to a rotational player with the addition of Brown. He will be too big play dependent and in my opinion a boom or mostly bust option in 2019.
Bonus stock: Head Coach – Bill Belichick
The Senetor Palpatine of the NFL has manipulated his way to possibly a seventh Super Bowl Championship in New England. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him. The power of the dark side is real my friends.