Wide receiver John Brown signed a three-year, $27M contract with the Buffalo Bills this week, $11.7M of which is guaranteed.
It’s a decent haul for the 28-year old, whose promising 2018 comeback year was flattened by the arrival of Lamar Jackson under center in Baltimore.
Brown was on pace for a 1,000-yard season and a WR2 finish in the nine games before Jackson took over in Week 10.
Under Jackson, the Ravens became the run-heaviest team in the league, cutting Brown’s targets by some 75 percent. Now he moves to Buffalo and to a QB similarly-fleet-footed QB in Josh Allen.
But unlike Jackson, Allen is at least willing and able to throw up Brown’s bread and butter — the deep ball. Is it a fit? What can we expect from Brown? And is he a value in best ball drafts?
Allen Throws Deep to Brown…
Allen has a rocket arm, which on the surface, pairs well with the deep-ball brilliance of our man Brown.
In his pro day, Allen was easily airing it out 80-plus yards. The problem is, he’s never been very accurate with it.
The evidence is more than just anecdotal. Looking at his accuracy in visual terms is, well, below average, to put it mildly.
Despite his considerable arm strength, Allen was downright miserable in completing deep passes as a rookie.
The optimist in me wants to believe that Allen can’t possibly be that inefficient again and some positive regression is on the way in 2019.
Can Brown help? Over the course of his career, he’s been very good on targets of about 12-22 yards downfield, as well as those shots to the deepest part of the field.
The bad news is that Allen is not Joe Flacco when it comes to the deep ball, and a 1,000-yard pace for Brown is probably not repeatable in 2019.
But there is good news.
Buy the Cheapest Guy
The Bills’ WR corps now features three burners in Brown (4.34 40-yard dash time), Robert Foster (4.41), Zay Jones (4.45). That indicates a that they want a formula which has plenty of designed runs for Allen mixed with downfield shots, accuracy be damned.
Brown is the most accomplished WR of the bunch and already has a 1,000-yard season under his belt, and the best news of all — he’s the cheapest of the trio.
While Foster flashed as a rookie, his historical comparables don’t indicate a guy who projects to make a fantasy impact. Jones rebounded nicely after a poor rookie season, but his upside is likely capped.
As the cheapest asset with the most upside, Brown is the clear best buy of the bunch among the Bills, and my guess is that his ADP will surpass both his running mates in the months ahead. If you’re wondering, recently-signed Cole Beasley is going undrafted.
At 28, Brown is back to full health and in his athletic prime. A WR3 season is in his range of outcomes. He’ll have some spike weeks in 2019, and at his current price of basically nothing, there’s only upside here as you fill out the back end of your roster in best ball leagues.