In Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant we have two of the best wide receivers of the decade returning after extended layoffs. Both are on the wrong side of 30. Who is the better addition, Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant?
Before the emergence of Michael Thomas as the undisputed king of fantasy wide receivers, we had Antonio Brown. Brown finished as the highest scoring WR three seasons in a row, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was the 2nd top scoring WR in 2013, 2017 and his last full season in 2018. Simply put Antonio Brown has been a fantasy god most of his career.
He was targeted early and often by Ben Roethlisberger and was one of the most reliable first round selections there was in redraft and dynasty.
Brown’s downward spiral
Reliable is not a word I would use to describe Brown lately, far from it. Off the field incidents have derailed a Hall of Fame bound career – reckless driving, frostbite from cryotherapy causing him to miss trainings, grievance he filed against the NFL in relation to his helmet, incidents involving an ex-girlfriend and the police, unprofessional conduct involving Raiders’ GM Mike Mayock and several accusations of sexual assault.
In 2019 Brown was traded to the Raiders and his time there was a disaster. Headline after headline, missed training after missed training and a total of zero games played. What was once seen as a steal by the Raiders (he was traded for a 3rd and a 5th round draft pick) proved to be anything but, as he went off the rails. The Raiders released him before the start of the 2020 season.
Barring one game for the Patriots in 2019 before his second release, Brown has not played two games in a row since 2018. In Brown’s only game with Tom Brady (GOAT) and the Patriots he finished with 4 receptions, 56 yards and a touchdown.
In the last year the Steelers ate a $21 million Cap charge to trade him; the Raiders ate two draft choices to cut him; and the Patriots ate a $9 million signing bonus to cut him.
Good luck Buccaneers. #antoniobrown
— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) October 23, 2020
— Jose negrete 🎥 (@jose_patsfolife) July 4, 2018
There is no denying Antonio Brown is one of the greatest receivers to ever lace up a pair of boots.
— AMock Sports (@AMockSports) September 15, 2019
Will Brown and Brady have success in Tampa Bay?
Crowded Buccaneers situation
Those hoping for a return of the glory days I am afraid you will be greatly disappointed. When considering Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant, one factor is the competition for targets. Brown is joining arguably the best group of pass catchers in the league. The Buccaneers have the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski. The wealthy just got wealthier.
The Tampa Bay trio were already starved of targets and the situation just got murkier. Brady is averaging 25.14 completions per game and 272.85 yards per game. Trying to pick who will benefit the most each week between Evans, Godwin, Gronk and Brown will be a nightmare. This is without even mentioning there leading receiver in 2020, Scott Miller. Every receiver will take a hit as there already will be simply too many mouths to feed.
After signing Antonio Brown, the
Bucs receiving group now features AB, Gronk, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin.
The best part?
Meet Scotty Miller — Tampa Bay’s leading receiver.
Miller was a 6th-rd pick from Bowling Green who is making $675k this year.pic.twitter.com/LDBZeNETRM
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) October 27, 2020
Brown will have some large weeks provided he can play within a shadow of his former self; the talent alone will be too much. Question marks remain though as he is now 32 years of age and as mentioned earlier has not played more than two games in a row since 2018.
He will start behind the likes of Godwin and Evans and best case scenario will be the 3rd favoured target on Buccaneers offense ahead of Gronk and Miller. Before seeing how he is utilized, I view him as a WR4 play each week with upside in 12 team leagues.
Despite his crowded situation, I still prefer Antonio Brown in dynasty and redraft over the man below, another former star of the NFL and fantasy.
WR Antonio Brown now has officially signed with the Buccaneers, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2020
The X is back. He has signed with the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. The former WR1 last played in 2017. After being released by the Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant waited for the right opportunity and signed with the New Orleans Saints in week 9 of the 2018 season. Two days later he unfortunately suffered a devastating achilles injury and it cratered his career.
In his prime Dez Bryant was a star, finishing the 4th best WR in fantasy twice (2012 and 2014) and in 2013 he was the 7th highest scoring WR. However, since his top 4 finish in 2014, in which managed 1,320 yards, 88 receptions and a whopping 16 touchdowns, he has failed to be a WR1 again. Now 6 years and counting.
Dez turns 32 years of age in a week and is coming of a major injury. I have a lot of doubt whether he will even see the field. There is however a clear path to relevancy on the Ravens’ offense if he ever makes it off the practice squad.
— GSH (@gman416) October 16, 2019
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2020
Will we see the X celebration in 2020?
Lamar Jackson has struggled at times throwing the ball this year. The Ravens are a run first team but when relied upon, Jackson has disappointed this season throwing the ball. Jackson’s passing stats are all down on last season, his completion rate has dropped from 66.08% to 62.96%, passing yards per game from 208.46 to 189.16. Jackson is 29th in completion rate among all QBs with at least 1 start this season. These low numbers will place a ceiling on Bryant no matter what the expectations are.
The one thing in the Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant choice that favors the former Cowboy is the clear path to targets. Former Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews has proved a favorite target of Jackson and a top 5 TE in the league. Beyond him however it is relatively thin.
So, the path is clear here, but what shape is Dez in? In his prime would be the clear-cut top receiver on this side, that unfortunately was more than 5 years ago.
Dez showing off the HANDS at his first Ravens practice 😈 @DezBryant
Coach made him go back and use 2 hands tho 😂
— Overtime (@overtime) October 28, 2020
How Dez Bryant walking into the Ravens facility pic.twitter.com/b2ABFa6RLM
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) October 22, 2020
All Jokes aside, Dez Bryant has been out of the league a long time. What shape physical will he be in?
Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant?
I sure hope we get to see Dez throw up the X in 2020, it will bring a joy to many people. The odds are that is unlikely to occur. I hope I am wrong. Despite the cap Lamar Jackson places on the Ravens’ passing game, Dez’s situation provides a clearer path to relevancy. There remain many question marks surrounding Dez’s all round physical health and capabilities. Given the choice I am taking the talents of Brown over Dez’s situation in 2020 and beyond.