A.J. Brown Fantasy Outlook, 2021 Projections, Rankings & More
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Titans’ A.J. Brown.
A.J. Brown Fantasy Rankings
|Consensus rankings via Sean Koerner and Chris Raybon are based on half PPR scoring and as of early August. » Create custom cheat sheets with their projections now|
In two seasons as a pro, A.J. Brown has never posted fewer than 1,000 receiving yards, fewer than eight touchdowns or a yard-per-catch average below 15.0. He has converted 11 of his 20 red-zone targets — or 55.0% — into TDs, which is over double the league average for his position.
Brown followed up a rookie year in which he averaged 3.3 catches for 65.7 yards and 0.50 scores on 5.3 targets per game with 5.0/76.8/0.79 on 7.6 targets per game in Year 2. For his career, he averages 4.1 catches, 70.9 yards and 0.63 TDs on 6.3 targets per game.
As a rookie in 2019, Brown finished as the WR21 in PPR, WR15 in half-PPR, and WR8 in standard. In 2020, he turned in a top-15 season in all formats.
Brown’s 2020 Season
- Games played: 14
- Receiving: 106 targets, 70 receptions, 1,075 yards, 11 touchdowns
- Fantasy finishes: WR14 in PPR, WR10 in standard, WR12 in half-PPR
Brown posted a 70/1,075/11 season on a team-leading 106 targets in 14 games in 2020. The second-year pro continued to be efficient despite a modest target total, finishing fifth among wide receivers in total TDs. Brown found the paint in 10-of-14 games, but was also consistent from a reception standpoint, catching at least four passes in 13-of-14 games.
Brown’s 2021 Fantasy Outlook
Given that Brown is entering his age-24 campaign, history likes his prospects of posting a career-best season.
Here are the year-over-year jumps for wide receivers going from their age-23 to age-24 season since 1992 (when Pro Football Reference began tracking targets):
- Targets per game: +6.4% vs. age-23, +3.5% vs. career
- Receptions per game: +8.6% vs. age-23, +5.5% vs. career
- Receiving yards per game: +7.8% vs. age-23, +4.8% vs. career
- Receiving TDs per game: +6.6% vs. age-23, +2.1% vs. career
Though the acquisition of a target hog such as Julio Jones may look like a cause for concern at first glace, Jones should be able to draw coverage away from Brown more effectively than Corey Davis did. Because the Titans also lost tight end Jonnu Smith and may start a low-volume No. 3 wide receiver in Josh Reynolds, Brown and Jones should be locked into targets à la Adam Thielen/Justin Jefferson or DK Metcalf/Tyler Lockett last year.
The biggest concern with Brown could be the loss of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who was the architect of the team’s red-zone success over the past two years. Brown has been somewhat TD-dependent, which couldn’t hurt if Smith’s loss is felt and Brown’s targets per game remain in the seven to eight range.
How to Draft A.J. Brown
According to FantasyPros’ Consensus WR ADP, Brown is currently being drafted as the WR8. I think that’s the right spot for him, as he’s essentially in a tier of his own after Calvin Ridley/Metcalf/Jefferson and before Keenan Allen/Allen Robinson/Terry McLaurin/Mike Evans/Julio Jones/CeeDee Lamb.
Brown’s TD dependence and run-heavy offense give him the lowest floor of any WR in the top eight, but his sheer talent, efficiency and age make him one of the safest picks from WR8-on. I would take him over all of the running backs going in late-Round 2/early-Round 3, but would consider passing on him to get a stud tight end like Darren Waller or George Kittle.