Stream of Gut Talent Tier 1 - Antonio Brown - Roto Street Journal
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Stream of Gut Talent Tier 1 – Antonio Brown

Written 3/19/16, the morning following a 3 day bender celebrating Sailor J’s return home, B-day & St. Patty’s all in one aggressive swoop.

Well, this sucks.

Remember when I said Shaq should join WWE and use the DK Wind Up Punch as his finisher? My head feels like he’s delivered 5 punishing windmill crowhops right to my skull.

Plus, nothing can bury a hangover deeper than being awoken by Sailor J howling puke into the toilet. Clearly a few months at sea have lowered an already subpar tolerance.

A silver lining: if ever there was a perfect time to begin 2016’s Stream of Gut, it’s arrived at full speed. The tradition is unlike any other: Get blackout drunk and rank a bunch of fantasy players in the morning. Demented.

The hangover does, in fact, serve a purpose — ensuring that this first set of rankings is created using nothing but my own, unique gut feelings. Forming basic thoughts is daunting enough, so the rankings will have to come from the heart, not the head.

Additionally, this means  I’ve been abstaining from FantasyPros’ composite rankings or ADP data until I reach my Top 50. No easy  task for an addict of my level.  But I don’t want any idea of where players are being drafted or ranked, otherwise I may unintentionally be swayed.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been tracking important news like free agent movement, coaching changes, and health reports (mostly meaningless this early, but still…I’m addicted). The gut feelings have to still be educated. Just impartial.

Informed, but uninfluenced.

These will not be fully-fleshed out Stock Profiles. That’ll happen after my Gut Call Top 50 are completed. Rather, this is a tool to figure out what players  to prioritize and put through the Stock Rating System first. Either:

A) Big offseason value movers (old faces in new places, fresh coaching upgrades)

B) People I am far higher (or lower) on than the rest of the fantasy pack. A “Gut Check” if you will.

 

Call it lazy, but the rankings begin with only one. Each additional letter and name I typed in his breadth felt disrespectful, insulting even.  The True PPR Almighty, Antonio Brown, belongs on a pedestal above the rest. As such…

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Tier 1 – Antonio Brown The PPR God

 

  1. Antonio Brown – Now I know I said I wasn’t going to flesh out stock profiles, but his should be pretty quick ‘n easy. 

Talent: Among the best route runners in the history of the game, with silky smooth breaks, rapid feet, and convincing double moves. Pair this with the speed to attack every level of the field, insane body contortion skills in contested situations, a sixth sense for the defense’s soft spots, and hands of glue, you’ve Madden Created an impossible cover. Brown’s truly elite and will be in the running for the NFL’s top receiver each season.

Talent Score = 10

Opportunity – Consistently peppered with double digit targets each week — 195 last season (over 12 a game) and 182 the year before (over 11 per contest). In fact, Antonio Brown never dipped below double digit looks in any of Big Ben’s starts, only falling below this number when Landry Jones or Michael Vick were behind center. As the apple of Ben’s eye (targeted an absurd 23 and 18 times on separate occasions in 2016), Brown’s weekly and seasonal floors are the highest in the fantasy game.

Opportunity Score = 10

Coaching Scheme – Todd Haley is among the brightest offensive coordinators out there, consistently having his team towards the league’s lead in scoring. While Brown certainly does his part in finding space, Haley’s creative route trees definitely helps. Will keep the ball in the air even in the red zone, which is great for a body contortionist of AB’s level.

Coaching Scheme Score = 10

Surrounding Talent  – Playing along side one of the game’s great QBs, Big Ben seemingly looks to Brown on his first, second, and third reads. Yes, this keeps Antonio’s floor high, but also creates a MASSIVE ceiling– 23 targets, 17 catches, and 284 yards type of level.

No other receiver has a QB this talented and this willing to chuck it their way. AB also benefits from the presence of Le’veon Bell (and maybe Martavis Bryant?), as defense’s cannot just scheme the elite receiver out of the game. A strong, mostly returning core group of offensive line provides the time needed for AB to dazzle corners and find the holes in the coverage. 

Surrounding Talent Score = 10

Risk – While AB’s floor has been emphasized throughout, let’s really drive it home:

Entering October 2015 (when Big Ben went down and Brown dealt with the gaggle of Landry Jones and Mike Vick), Antonio had been riding a 35 game streak of at least 5 catches, and 50 yards. 35 GAMES! You’re essentially guaranteed double digit fantasy points each week, and still get to roll out a week-winning ceiling:  4 games with 185+ yards, again reiterating that insane 17 catch, 284 yard effort.

Plus, he’s been an iron-man, playing in all 16 contests in 4 out of the last 5 seasons. No one else in the NFL can come close to matching this floor / ceiling combination.

Really, the only blemish on AB’s value is not his own health, but that of his QB. As mentioned, his insane 35 game catch/yard streak was only broken once Big Ben was out of the lineup. Given the massive QBs reckless style of play and reluctance to go down, this does remain a slight concern for 2016. AB has not proven fully QB Proof quite yet.

But when you’re only real risk is someone else’s well-being, you’re a pretty damn safe prospect.

More importantly, this 4-game “dark spot” on an otherwise brilliant 136 catch, 1,834 yard, 10 TD season suggests we may not have even seen Brown’s highest seasonal ceiling yet.

Consider this: in the 12 games Big Ben played, Brown recorded 119 catches, 1599 yards, and 10 TDs. Those are elite, WR1 numbers for a full season slate; Brown put these numbers up despite a quarter of his season being tanked by the Vick and Landry show.

A full season at Brown’s 2016 pace with Big Ben? 158 catches, 2132 yards, 13 TDs. Historic.

Risk = 9.5 (for Big Ben’s health)

Total Stock Score = 49.5 (Elite)

Summary – Assuming Ben’s healthy, Antonio Brown will, at minimum, always keep you competitive. Quite often he will win you weeks on his own. I fully understand & believe in  positional scarcity and the death of the three down RB, hence David Johnson’s #2 ranking.

But we’re talking about a true PPR God here. Someone on pace for nearly 160 catches, over 2100 yards, and 13 TDs when he and his starting QB were on the field together. Your team is relevant the second he becomes your building block, and hitting on a few more picks will have you in championship contention. Simply put, no one else belongs in the conversation for #1 overall (even in standard leagues).

Bow down & praise Antonio, and he’ll undoubtedly lead you to Fantasy Promised Land.