It finally happened. It was a wild three days on the Antonio Brown front. The superstar wide receiver had demanded a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he had spent his entire career. Reports emerged that he was headed to the Buffalo Bills, but that quickly blew up, with the rumor that Brown would refuse to play there if the trade processed. This put the Oakland Raiders in the driver’s seat to land him since he himself said that he would love to play for the Silver and Black. The two players this affects the most in fantasy football are Derek Carr, and of course Brown himself.
Fantasy Football: How the Antonio Brown Trade Affects the Oakland Raiders
Trending Up: Derek Carr
Carr has dealt with a lot in this short offseason. Rumors have been aplenty that the Raiders have been shopping him this offseason. He’s had an up-and-down career, to say the least. After two solid seasons to start his career, Carr had an MVP-caliber season in 2016 before a leg injury prematurely ended his season. Oakland made the playoffs for the first time in over ten years, but without Carr, the team faltered.
He was expected to come in and pick up right where he left off. Instead, he regressed. Carr didn’t look the same after injuring his back in Week Four against the Denver Broncos. He was skittish at any signs of pressure, usually opting to throw the ball away instead of move to make plays in the pocket.
He started to settle down last year, mostly due to desensitization. Though early in the year, it looked like Carr’s confidence might be shattered forever, offensive line problems may have been a blessing and a curse. Carr was sacked 51 times in 2018. For comparison, he was sacked a combined 36 times in 2016-2017 combined. However, he started to play more confidently in the back half of the season, despite not having a lot to work with.
Last Word on Derek Carr’s Fantasy Stock
But what does that mean for Carr’s numbers in fantasy? Carr has only been fantasy relevant one year of his career, his 2016 campaign. Up to week 16, when he was injured, he was the QB8. This was really when everything went right for Carr. Both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had over 1,000 yards receiving. However, the team cut Crabtree before the season and traded Cooper during it. Without much to work with, Carr finished as the QB18.
Now, this trade gives Carr potential to be a top-10 quarterback again. Oakland still has veteran Jordy Nelson, and will probably add more receivers with one of their four picks in the top 35. They still have plenty of cap space to add some wide receivers in free agency should they choose to. That being said, Carr will be worth a dice roll in the back portion of the draft, and should be monitored closely the first few weeks should he go undrafted.
Trending Down: Antonio Brown
Brown has been a top-five pick in fantasy drafts for years. This is because he has put up mind-boggling numbers in fantasy football almost his entire career. Last season, Brown finished the season as the WR1 in fantasy, which for him, is somehow routine. In fact, Brown has boasted top-two fantasy football finishes for five straight seasons. The last time he didn’t have a top-five finish, he was WR6 in 2013. For trivia purposes, Josh Gordon was WR1 and he only played in 13 games.
Brown already seems to think that he will have a great connection with Carr, tweeting this out minutes before the deal was even officially announced:
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) March 10, 2019
Carr definitely has the arm strength and accuracy to keep Brown as a top wide receiver in this league. The question now becomes, what will the Raiders do to make sure Brown gets the ball? Last season, Oakland struggled to push the ball downfield, due mostly to a porous, injury-riddled offensive line. However, with Brown being signed at top-dollar, there is no way the Raiders don’t do all they can to get that line back to being one of the top in the league in pass protection. Of all the teams that Brown could have ended up, this one is definitely one of the better options for his fantasy stock.
Last Word on Antonio Brown’s Fantasy Stock
There is no questioning that Brown’s draft stock took a hit with this trade. Team owners will have a hard time drafting Brown in the top five again with him going to a new team. However, he’s still one of the more talented receivers in the league, with one of the more creative offensive minds in the NFL. He should have no trouble getting to a top-five wide receiver finish, but expectations should be tempered, especially early in the season as he adjusts to a new team and new atmosphere.
Hey, at least he didn’t end up with a team like the Buffalo Bills.
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