Davante Adams, Deandre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs. These are all the names that you will see atop most of the 2021 fantasy football rankings. All of these receivers have a great opportunity to take the throne as the top wideout for this upcoming season but there is one wide receiver that everyone should keep their eye on. That receiver is AJ Brown. There are a number of reasons why we could see him become the fantasy wide receiver 1 this year.
AJ Brown Number One Or Not
Over the last three years, the identity of the Titans’ defense has changed. In 2018 they were third in the NFL for points against, giving up 303. In 2019 they were still one of the top defenses in the league. They finished 12th overall in points against, giving up a total of 331. Things took a dramatic turn in 2020 as their defense took a tumble.
They gave up a total of 439 points finishing 24th in the league. It comes as no surprise that their pass attempts increased each of those years. The Titans did sign pass rusher Bud Dupree, this offseason but I’m not sure his impact alone can get them back to being one of the better defenses in the league. Pass attempts may be on the rise again this season.
Last year, AJ Brown led the Titans with 106 targets in only 14 games. This past offseason Tennessee lost three key contributors in their passing game. Corey Davis (92 targets), Jonnu Smith (65 targets), and Adam Humphries (35 targets) all have found new homes which leaves a total of 192 vacated targets. The only key addition to the offense has been Josh Reynolds whose career-high in targets (81) came last year with the Rams. The Titans did not address the wide receiver position early in the draft either. They waited until the fourth round to draft Dez Fitzpatrick out of Louisville. AJ Brown could easily surpass 140 targets this upcoming season.
Injuries Can’t Stop Him
AJ Brown played most of the season injured. Now I know what you are thinking, all players play hurt throughout the season. While that may be true, the injuries players deal with don’t always result in surgery at the end of the season. AJ ended up having surgery on both of his knees on January 19th, 2021, shortly after the season had ended. In true warrior fashion, he did not tell anyone about his injuries and pushed through the season finishing with 70 receptions 1075 yards, and 11 touchdowns earning his first pro bowl appearance. What numbers could he have put up if he wasn’t dealing with those injuries? We may soon find out.
AJ Brown was a dominant receiver in both of his first two years in the league by making the most of every opportunity he got. According to Playerprofiler.com, AJ Brown finished 2nd overall in fantasy points per route run last year. Why didn’t he finish higher than the wide receiver 12 in PPR leagues you ask? Well, it’s because he came in at wide receiver 57 in total routes run. AJ Brown is entering his third season, with another year of experience working with Ryan Tannehill. It’s not difficult to envision Brown running more routes and getting more opportunities this upcoming season.
AJ Brown has also been a touchdown machine. In 2019 he finished with 9 total touchdowns and last year he finished with 11, a year in which he only received 13 red-zone targets which were 24th best in the league. There is room for improvement. Jonnu Smith finished the season with 18 red-zone targets (5th best in the league). Those targets will go somewhere else and AJ Brown will be a top candidate to receive them.
AJ Brown is one of the best wide receivers in the league and I am confident in him finishing the season as a WR1. Can he get to the top spot this season? We shall see but I believe he has just as good of an opportunity to do so as anybody in the league. If I can give you one piece of advice entering your 2021 fantasy drafts it would be to draft AJ Brown!
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