It feels like forever ago when we last saw Antonio Brown in an NFL uniform. Sure, Brown had a brief cameo as part of a one-game stint with the Patriots last season, but other than that he hasn’t made a season-long impact for a team since the 2018 season when he was still with Pittsburgh. And those days feel like a distant memory. Between freezing his feet off, complaining about the league’s helmet regulations, and a bevy of personal issues that are none of my business, Brown has been in the news for his off the field antics more than his on-field production over the last calendar year. The latest headline surrounding the current free agent is that he has garnered interest from the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens. But now with the latter deemed an “unlikely destination” for Brown, that leaves Seattle as the favorite (by default) to land him. As problematic as he has been, signing a player of Brown’s caliber makes total football sense for the Seahawks. So let’s imagine that an organization can once again become convinced that Brown’s talent is more valuable than his toxic personality by taking a look at his potential fantasy impact for the Seahawks (before he ruins this opportunity too).
As I previously stated, it’s been a while since Brown has suited up for an NFL team. But make no mistake about it, he can still perform at a high level. When last we saw him, he caught 4 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown against Miami in Week 2 of the 2019 season. Granted, this performance came against one of the worst defenses in the league. However, it’s worth noting that Brown had to learn a new playbook in just one week after moving across the country from Oakland to Foxborough. While Brown is almost a full year removed from playing in a meaningful game, it’s not uncommon for players to miss entire seasons with injuries and return better than ever. While Brown’s injury is less of a physical thing and more of a personality thing, he should still be the same AB we’ve known him to be if he does indeed make a comeback.
The biggest concern with Brown (apart from his personal issues) is that he will be 32 years old when the season kicks off. We have seen other greats like Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Cris Carter, and Marvin Harrison who were all highly productive in their age 32 campaigns. As unpleasant as he may be as a person, there’s no dispute that Antonio Brown truly does rank among the game’s all-time best at the receiver position. Playing with Russell Wilson won’t hurt Brown’s chances to return to form either. Brown’s days as the best receiver in the league may be over, but if he lands in Seattle he may very well be able to string together a WR1 campaign this season, depending on what target share he commands. He could easily surpass the ceilings of guys like Kenny Golladay, D.J Moore, Adam Thielen, and Amari Cooper if he can play a full slate of games.
Russell Wilson is already a consensus top-five fantasy QB due to his strong track record which includes a top-five finish at the position in four of the last six seasons. If the Seahawks add Antonio Brown, it’s safe to say that Wilson’s ADP would rise. Ask yourself this. Has Wilson every played with a truly elite pass-catcher? Sure, super scrapper Doug Baldwin was a top-12 fantasy wideout for a few seasons (2015-17) and former return specialist Tyler Lockett is in the same neighborhood now, but neither of these guys is on the same level as Antonio Brown. Adding AB to an offense that already features Lockett and highly-touted second-year wideout D.K. Metcalf would vault Wilson into the Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson tier of fantasy quarterbacks. While he might not crack the top two, Wilson would surely rank higher than guys like Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Dak Prescott for me in this scenario.
D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett
If Seattle added Antonio Brown, there’s no doubt that Seattle’s incumbent WR duo would get bumped down a bit on the wide receiver rankings. While many are banking on a Metcalf breakout and Lockett repeating his WR2 season, both would fall into the WR3 territory with the addition of a guy like Brown. Both players would still be valuable fantasy assets, but there would be too many mouths to feed in Seattle’s notoriously run-heavy offense. In this scenario, Lockett would likely fall into the low-end WR2 range while Metcalf would find himself firmly in the WR3 zone.