Antonio Brown is One of the Best Ever and He is Absolutely Still in His Prime

September 17, 2021

Dylan Powell

From 2013 to 2018, Antonio Brown set the NFL ablaze with the most receptions (686) and the most receiving yards (9,145) in NFL history by any receiver over any six year span.

Then in 2019, he played one game for the New England Patriots where he caught 4 passes on 8 targets for 56 yards and a TD on only 14 routes run.

He then missed a year and a half due to off-the-field issues, before returning to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their final 8 games of the season in 2020. When he returned after a long layoff and to a new system, he put up 45 catches for 483 yards and 4 TDs.

Finally, Antonio Brown put up a WR1 finish with a 5 catch, 121 yard, 1 TD performance against the Dallas Cowboys in week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.

Antonio Brown has been nothing short of elite for 9 straight years. Despite changing teams 3 times, facing a year and a half lay-off, and dealing with off-the-field adversity, Antonio Brown has been consistently one of the best WRs in the NFL whenever he steps on the football field over that entire period of time. No exceptions. Not a single one.

But Antonio Brown was being drafted as the WR32 in Underdog Bestball drafts this past offseason, leading me to target him relentlessly in the 6th round in early September. Then he was ranked no better than a WR3 across the industry in week 1. He has consistently been drafted and ranked far behind both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.

These rankings seem confusing though, because Antonio Brown has been arguably the best Buccaneers WR ever since he put on the uniform - or at least AS good as Evans and/or Godwin (Stats from 2020 weeks 9-17, per PFF):

Stat Antonio Brown Chris Godwin Mike Evans
Routes 233 299 270
Targets 62 54 62
Receptions 45 40 40
Yards 483 561 633
TDs 4 5 6
PFF Grade 86.0 76.0 79.8
Drops 0 1 5

Heading into Week 2

Antonio Brown is still being overlooked as we enter week two of the 2021 NFL season. Heading into week 2 against a hapless Atlanta Falcons defense (ranked 29th against WRs according to 4for4.com's matchup ratings), Brown is being ranked as just the WR22 in FantasyPros Expert Consensus ranks. This is once again behind both Chris Godwin (WR15) and Mike Evans (WR20).

My favorite site to go for redraft rankings at least has him as the WR16 (and still behind Godwin but 2 spots ahead of Evans), and this is just another one of the reasons that's my favorite site for rankings.

Sure, some analysts are talking him about being a good play this week because of his great matchup, but I don't think that's doing Antonio Brown the justice he deserves. Antonio Brown is still an explosive, dominant alpha WR in the NFL until he proves to us otherwise. And given his track record of consistent performance over 9 years whenever he steps on the field, he has not even come close to proving otherwise. This is not a match up play -- this is an Antonio Brown play.

Final Thoughts

Like Tom Brady, Antonio Brown seems to be just aging differently than other WRs. This may surprise some, but not me. Antonio Brown has one of the most dedicated training routines in all of sports.

Also like Tom Brady, Antonio Brown was a 6th round pick in the NFL draft who has out-worked everyone in his path to get to the pinnacle of his game. Two years ago he claimed that he is the best 6th round pick of all time.

And again just like Tom Brady, Antonio Brown is going to ball out every week this season and challenge for a top 10 finish at his position this year (and challenge the WR1 spot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

Keep firing up Antonio Brown in your lineups until the market wakes up and moves him up accordingly. Antonio Brown is one of the best ever and he is absolutely still in his prime.

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