- How does Antonio Brown's release from the Patriots affect his former teammates in fantasy? Thoughts on Tom Brady, Josh Gordon, James White and more.
The marriage between wide receiver Antonio Brown and the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots lasted exactly 13 days. Just 11 since the official signing, as the Patriots’ statement points out. During that span, Brown played in exactly one game, last week’s win over Miami. Brown seemed to have instant chemistry with Tom Brady, grabbing four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Brown's release follows two detailed reports from SI's Robert Klemko, one on Monday that brought to light new information about sexual misconduct allegations, and a follow-up Thursday night about sending intimidating text messages to a victim from the original story.
The speculation will now be about whether Brown might be headed to the NFL’s exempt list, or if another team would even want to sign him. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has already said Brown hopes to play for a new team soon.
Brown’s fantasy value had risen significantly upon joining the six-time Super Bowl champions. With him gone, let’s look at the impact of those he’s left behind. As always, the Patriots will not miss a beat in fantasy football. Star wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman will return as Brady's top target on the outside. Pass catching running back James White and fellow wide receiver Josh Gordon saw a significant hit in their fantasy production with Brown on the field in Week 2. Many models and pundits had begun to downgrade the fantasy value of both White and Gordon, who both saw a significant reduction in targets, but they will now be moved back up the rankings to their original respective positions going forward. White returns to a solid flex start in PPR formats with Gordon returning into the back end of the WR2 discussion. Quarterback Tom Brady, who is the overall QB5 through two games, will remain a QB1 and should be started in every league for the next several weeks, especially with games against the Jets, Redskins and Giants on the horizon.
Perhaps, the biggest beneficiary of Brown’s release will be wideout Phillip Dorsett. He is readily available on most waiver wires as he is owned in less than 15% of leagues and is the most advisable immediate move if you have roster room. In addition, other WRs who are readily available, such as Cowboy Randall Cobb (40% owned) or Steeler Diontae Johnson (7% owned) offer significant upside as players Brown owners should look to target. Cobb is expected to see an increased role following the injury to Michael Gallup and Johnson was named a starter early Friday sending the disappointing Donte Moncrief to the bench.