- Following an offseason filled with drama, Antonio Brown was released by the Raiders and signed by the Super Bowl champion Patriots. What type of fantasy impact will this have on both teams?
Social media alerts sent fantasy football owners into a frenzy and draft boards amok as the news spread. The Oakland Raiders had ended their tumultuous relationship with Antonio Brown without the star receiver ever playing a single down for the silver and black. The news sent his draft stock plummeting into the sixth round. However, within hours of being released by the Raiders, the disgruntled Brown found a new home with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, sending his draft stock instead soaring into the second round.
It's been a wild weekend of emotions for fantasy owners here at the Palms Casino drafting in the Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football World Championships. Those who had invested draft capital in Brown have been on a roller-coaster of emotions the entire summer with all the Brown drama. The fantasy value of Brown has risen significantly upon joining the six-time Super Bowl champions. Brown signed a one-year deal worth $15 million with a $9 million signing bonus but will not be eligible to play when New England hosts Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
The signing of Brown creates a rippling effect on the fantasy world for both Patriots and Raiders players. In Oakland, Brown's departure will open up targets for both wide receivers Tyrell Williams and rookie Hunter Renfrow. Williams, as well as rookie running back Josh Jacobs, will both be the biggest beneficiaries in ADP formats as Gruden's offense will now run through both players. Renfrow, who was seen going as late as the 19th round of drafts this weekend, saw his stock rise to Round 14 Saturday afternoon in Main Event drafts. Williams, the former Los Angeles Charger, will now be a WR1 for the first time in his career and projections now have him finishing inside the top 40 of all wideouts by season's end as QB Derek Carr's go-to guy. Jacobs, who has an ADP of 4.4, also sees his draft value rise in PPR formats with a projected jump in targets/receptions.
On the other side of the spectrum, Brown's arrival in Foxboro will also have a significant effect on his new club. Star wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman will not be affected and should still be drafted with confidence as Brady's go-to guy in the slot. Brown will have an adverse effect on pass-catching running back James White and fellow wide receiver Josh Gordon. Brown immediately slides in as Brady's No. 2 option in New England's offense and should Belichick be able to reign in Brown's off-the-field antics and get him to follow in-line with the "Patriot Way," then Brown could easily finish as a top-10 WR by season's end. White and Gordon will see a significant reduction in targets substantially tempering their season-long value as players who were both being taken before the end of Round five.
Tom Brady immediately catapults into the QB1 conversation on a weekly basis. With Brown, Edelman, Gordon, Thomas and White, there are not many defenses in the NFL that can defend the plethora of talent on the Patriots' offense. Most weeks, Brady should be a solid backend QB1. There will only be a handful of weeks when fantasy owners should consider leaving him on the bench, mostly due to projected game script (the Patriots will blow out several teams and will likely run the ball a lot) or when New England faces elite defenses such as the Chicago Bears.
The 2019 fantasy drafts may very well go down as the 'Brown Effect' with owners who received insane value with Brown in the sixth round, while those who invested high second-round capital praying that Brown doesn't draw the wrath of the biggest disciplinarian the NFL has to offer in HOF head coach Bill Belichick. They say "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas," however what has transpired with Brown will have a far-reaching effect on fantasy drafts across the entire country. Buckle up fantasy world, the excitement is just beginning.