The case for Antonio Brown in 2013 is super simple and it pretty much begins and ends with a table showing the Steelers target distribution from 2012. Here is that table:
|Player||Targets||% of Targets|
Mike Wallace is gone to MIA, Heath Miller is still trying to make it back from a torn ACL, and Antonio Brown is the player that stands to benefit. Just Wallace’s targets that need to be replaced are 119. Meanwhile, Brown is being drafted as WR22 and yet I think he’s probably likely to finish the season in the top 10 in the league in targets. Because Brown is a smallish WR, I’m likely not targeting him in any standard leagues where yards and touchdowns are really important. But in a PPR league I think he makes some sense. Also, while Brown has put up low TD numbers over the course of his career, I don’t think it’s impossible for him to get up into the 7-9 TD range as he’s been more efficient in the red zone than a lot of small receivers usually are. Brown is 5/19 over his career in terms of turning red zone targets into touchdowns. That’s a 26% rate compared to a lot of small receivers with rates below 20%. I also think Brown has short area quicks that could help him succeed in the red zone, while a lot of small receivers have a tough time translating their long speed into red zone TDs (DJax for example).
There are certainly other WRs that I probably like a little more than Brown in that same range of the draft, but if you end up in a draft with a group of savvy drafters who are picking off the true WR1 size receivers, it may make sense to zig when they’re zagging and just pick up Antonio Brown based on the volume of targets that he’ll see in 2013.