DeSean Jackson was born to best ball. And with the deep-threat dynamo moving to Tampa Bay, his draft stock is now among the highest of any team’s second wide receiver.
The 2017 draft season presents no shortage of opportunities to buy players who have a host of things going for them – whether it be their situation, talent, or some other factor – for cheaper than a similar, more expensive player.
This time out, I answer the question – why draft DeSean Jackson when another WR who was also born to best ball is available a few rounds later?
Full disclosure – I have drafted and will continue to draft DeSean Jackson in best ball leagues this year. I like his chances of returning value at a sixth-round ADP. But where I haven’t been picking up Jameis Winston’s newest weapon, I’m keeping an eye out for another guy who is always a threat to put up a huge week.
You might remember him as the 1,000-yard sophomore receiver who suffered through a somewhat bizarre injury last year.
JOHN BROWN IS BACK, BABY!
That’s the word at least, after sickle-cell concerns contributed heavily to John Brown’s let down last season. But not so long ago, in 2015, Brown was a 1,000-yard, breakout speedster named Smokey who put up a season that looks like the type of year DeSean Jackson usually posts.
John Brown is not the deep threat DeSean Jackson is; their yards per reception numbers make that obvious, but no one is Jackson’s equal in that department. However, it’s quite possible that John Brown exceeds Jackson’s target totals in 2017. Brown received more targets in each of his first two seasons than Jackson saw in those years, meaning that, other than last year (when Brown was sick), Jackson has never had more targets than Brown in a season.
It’s also fair to wonder if DeSean Jackson actually sees a decline in targets in Tampa Bay. Mike Evans has been a target hog, with 319 balls heading his way over the past two seasons. That’s probably not sustainable, but I still expect Evans to be a target beast. The Buccaneers also added tight end O.J. Howard and WR Chris Godwin in the draft and had no major pass-catching departures from last season.
Our RotoViz staff projections have Jackson with 96 targets and Brown with 103.
In a sure case of recency bias, drafters seem to be forgetting just how good John Brown was at his best. Playing for the same coach and quarterback he has now, and facing internal WR competition from Michael Floyd, Brown finished as the WR23 in 2015.
Using the RotoViz Game Splits App to isolate his 2016 season, we can see just how much of an effect that sickle-cell sickness had on Brown.
All of Brown’s career stats were down significantly.
If you chose to believe reports that doctors have zeroed in on the problem and removed a cyst on his spine which may also have been contributing to his health issues, then you should have no problem believing that John Brown is a great bargain.
We’ve witnessed him producing at a WR2 level, and he’s still just 25-years old.
The price difference here is not huge here, with Jackson going 77th and Brown the 91st player off the board.
However, assuming his health has returned, there stands an excellent chance that these two finish quite close in the final WR rankings.
I’m not going to tell you to pass on drafting DeSean Jackson in 2017, but if you miss out, or are going Zero RB and picking up RBs in round six instead, John Brown looks like a great alternative in best ball leagues.