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Can John Brown be Fantasy Relevant in 2017?

John Brown

John Brown Fantasy 2017

After a disappointing 2016 season marred by injury, the Arizona Cardinals seem confident that John Brown can return to something like his best in 2017. But regarding fantasy football, is John Brown’s best worth having on your fantasy team?

Since entering the league, Brown has played in 46 of a potential 48 games for the Cards. In that span, he has seen 276 targets, caught 152 passes, and amassed 2216 yards with 14 touchdowns. On an offense that is quite committed to the forward pass, these figures are quite disappointing. Among wide receivers since 2014, Browns targets are good for 34th, 36 wideouts have more catches, while 34 have more yards. His touchdown tally, the very lifeblood of a fantasy team, is tied for 36th place. All of these numbers are back-end WR3 stats.

Yards #Games %
0-10 8 17.4
11-19 4 8.7
20-29 5 10.9
30-39 2 4.3
40-49 8 17.4
50-59 4 8.7
60-69 4 8.7
70-79 5 10.9
80-89 1 2.2
90-99 1 2.2
100+ 4 8.7

We’ve seen that Brown doesn’t exactly find the end zone an awful lot, but does he make up for this by racking up yardage? The table below shows his yardage totals by game and the percentage of his games in which he hit that mark.

In short, he has amassed 50 yards or less in 58.7% of his career games. His shortage of 100-yard games is a major knock on his fantasy appeal, as those are ten points that he could get without having the bother of scoring touchdowns. Incidentally, he has scored a touchdown in just one of his 100-yard games. So it wouldn’t be fair to call him a feast or famine, as there is very rarely a feast.

As you would expect given the above numbers, he has been a fantasy match winner very rarely in his NFL career. Here are his weekly finishes in standard scoring leagues (courtesy of NFL.com).

In exactly half of his career weeks, he has finished as the WR49 or worse. Of all the numbers I have gathered for Smoky, this was by far the most surprising. A consistent WR5 is not someone you can ever trust to deliver in fantasy football. I don’t like to use the term WR5. I think my term is much more appropriate. Bench. Or, if you want to go even stronger, Waiver Wire.

Weekly Finish #Games %
WR1 5 10.9
WR2 8 17.4
WR3 7 15.2
WR4 3 6.5
WR5+ 23 50
John Brown does have serious competition for targets on the Cards roster, even after the team dumped former first round pick Michael Floyd late last season. Larry Fitzgerald seems determined to keep putting his body on the line for the only team he has ever played for and will be returning in 2017. Fitz has seen 295 targets over the last two years and has amassed 216 receptions for 2238 yards. He also has 15 touchdowns over this span. All of those two-year figures are greater than Brown’s over three. Speedy WR J.J. Nelson became a bigger part of the offense last season, providing Carson Palmer with the deep threat Brown was supposed to be. He reeled in 34 of 74 targets for 568 yards at 16.7 yards per reception. Bruce Arians suddenly recognized the existence of the tight end as a pass-catching option, with Jermaine Gresham playing himself into a new four-year contract with a 37 catch, 391-yard season in 2016. And then, of course, there is the not insignificant figure of David Johnson. He has set his sights on a 1000 yard rushing and receiving season, and he came perilously close to achieving the feat last season. He ended 121 receiving yards short. He recorded five receptions per game in 2016 and posted an average of 54.9 yards through the air. Compare these numbers to the 3.3 receptions and 48.2 yards per game John Brown has delivered for the Cards.

Of course, John Brown did battle a serious medical condition in 2016, and the difference regarding numbers between his “breakout” 2015 campaign and last year are marked. But in three seasons, we’ve seen one decent season and two very ordinary one. It would be foolish to ignore the weight of probability, in this case, I believe.

Between January and February, according to the mock drafters over at Fantasy Football Calculator, John Brown was being taken on average in the 14th round. With a new rookie class soon to enter the league, I would not be stunned if this ADP dropped dramatically, with Smoky starting the 2017 fantasy season on the waiver wire in many leagues. His previous stats point to a player whose ceiling is a WR3, and a low-end one at that. Speaking as someone who likes to draft, and acquires talent during the season, for upside, I’m struggling to see any for John Brown.

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About the author

Neil Dutton

Neil's been playing fantasy football for ten years, including a victory in 2014 in a league arranged by NFL.com Fantasy expert Adam Rank. Huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, and follows the fortunes of the England cricket team, usually with his head in his hands for both. Neil lives with his fiancé Kate and their daughter Zoe. He is an atrocious Words with Friends player.

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