Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown had a fantastic rookie season, eclipsing 1000 receiving yards. Even more impressive is that this came during the midst of a quarterback change from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill in Week 5. When looking back at Brown’s season, I was surprised that he produced as much considering the fact that Ryan Tannehill threw less than 25 passes in five starts and that the Titan’s tailored their offense around running-back Derrick Henry. A.J. Brown also had some considerable accolades, being the first rookie since Randy Moss (1998) to have at least 50 receptions, 1000 receiving yards, and five touchdowns while averaging more than 17 yards per catch. Brown finished third in rookie offensive player of the year awards and should continue to shine for years to come. While these numbers are special, many suspect Brown’s production and fantasy numbers could be handicapped by the Titan’s offensive scheme. However, I believe that Brown’s growth from his rookie to the sophomore season will make Brown, at the minimum, as productive as his rookie season.
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A.J Brown had one of the most impressive rookie seasons that I could think of. The second-round draft pick finished the 2019 season with 52 receptions for 1051 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. Fantasy-wise, the receiver finished with 217.1 fantasy points and 13.6 fantasy points per game. Brown solidified himself as the Titan’s number one option for years to come and showcased the potential to become one of the premier deep threats in the NFL with an average of 20 yards per reception.
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For the 2020 season, Lineups projects that Brown will have 70 receptions for 1073 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. His fantasy value is expected to mirror last season with 216 total points for 13.5 points per game.
I could easily see the receiver achieve these numbers. Entering his second year, he has more time to understand the offensive schemes and improve his route running. Little things such as his red-zone technique and hand placement on press coverages should also improve.
I anticipate an improvement upon his rookie year because Brown seemed to establish chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the season progressed. Through weeks 12-17, A.J. Brown more than 5 receptions for 110+ yards in 4/6 of those games. This is in comparison to one 100 yard game in the first 11 weeks. This duo could become even more lethal in 2020 with a formal training camp.
#Titans WR A.J. Brown is the first player In NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards on less than 90 targets.
Brown accumulated 1051 receiving yards on just 84 targets.
9 players have done it on less than 100, but none lower than 94.
— Russell Clay (@RussellJClay) December 30, 2019
ADP: 52.5 WR:16
Auction Value: $22
As the undisputed Titans number one receiver, A.J. Brown ADP is 52.2, a respectable, but an undervalued draft position. My assessment has him hovering a 35-40 ADP. I do believe the lack of experience, name (most people are still unfamiliar with him), and Titan’s run-heavy offense is a cause of concern for most people. But if you can get Brown at his current ADP or even lower, you are potentially getting a WR1 with 70+ receptions, 1000+ yards at a WR2 position. I think this ADP could make him a draft-day steal.
Because of his age and ADP, I believe A.J. has a high floor. He stayed healthy the entire season and produced under two quarterbacks with unique styles of play. Brown gained chemistry with Ryan Tannehill as the season progressed and rose up the depth chart. Being young with so much room to grow makes me believe that the receiver will at least match his rookie production. As a sophomore, he will attract more attention from defenses, but I believe an additional year of coaching and offensive scheming will make up for the increased defensive attention. More importantly, what makes Brown special is his YAC, which ranked 6th amongst wide-receivers in 2019. YAC is something you cannot effectively coach against.
Again, I am a huge believer in A.J. Brown. He is the first rookie in the Superbowl Era to have 1000 receiving yards and an average of 20 yards per reception. While not the most popular receiver name of the 2019 draft (D.K. Metcalf, Hollywood Brown), I argue that he should be at the top of that list. He had more yards, touchdowns, and yards per reception amongst any rookie receiver. He will be the clear number option in the Titan’s offense next season.
Brown should be valued in both PPR and Non-PPR leagues. However, I think that the receiver shines in PPR leagues due to his yards per reception and yards after reception (YAC). His touchdown numbers will also give him viability in Non-PPR leagues as well. Because of this, I see a high ceiling in all league formats.
The Titans have an athletic offense line, first-year coordinator Arthur Smith, and 6’3’’ 240-pound running back Derrick Henry to lead their zone rushing scheme. This dominating scheme, which led Derrick Henry to rush for over five yards per carry opened up bootleg passes that collapsed defenses and led to one-on-one mismatches. Open on these bootleg passes was A.J. Brown, who at 6’0’’ 220 pounds was a tackling nightmare on his own.
This dominating offensive scheme, which opened up after benching Marcus Mariota, will come back in full form. I expect the Titan’s to continue this offensive scheme as the moved away from the passing game in the playoffs. However, as a number one receiver, I do not expect the scheme to have a strong impact on his fantasy value. The Titan’s lack a viable WR2 after former first-round Corey Davis continues to struggle. Their tight-end core is simply average. I would imagine that A.J. Brown will be the focal point of the passing game.
Some will argue that being the focal point of the offense will attract double teams and increased defensive attention. While this may be the case, I think that teams will be hesitant to double team Brown due to Derrick Henry’s dominance. Instead, teams might add a safety in the box, giving Brown plenty of one on one opportunities.
Titans Strength of Schedule
A.J. Brown shined against poor pass defenses (Texans, Raiders, Colts) but struggled amongst some of the leagues best defenses. In 2020, the Titans again have the luxury of playing the Texans and Colts twice as well as a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, the rest of their schedule includes many top 10 pass defenses including the Steelers, Broncos, Bills, Ravens, and Packers. Brown could struggle, but I do no foresee considerable struggles. Many of these teams, including the Ravens and Packers, had poor run defenses. If the Titans pound the running game, A.J. Brown will have plenty of opportunities. Plus, his greatest strengths are his YAC and reception yards. If you get the ball in his hands, he will expand plays. Brown will be tough for any defense to handle.
Overall, I believe Brown is one track to become a premier receiver in the NFL. This upcoming season will only add to his resume. I believe that he is undervalued in many leagues because people do not know his name. With his ADP, he is being drafted as an early-mid WR2. However, I believe that the receiver should be in the conversation as a late WR1. I think this upcoming season will make Brown a household name.