The free agent insanity going on around the NFL has opened a big door for Chargers rookie wide receiver Vincent Brown. Former San Diego wide receiver Legedu Naanee has signed with the Carolina Panthers, and by the time you read this article free agent Malcom Floyd might be on a different team. As I write this Floyd is still a free agent, but there are strong rumors of him being signed by the Ravens as soon as today (August 5th).
So if Naanee is gone and Floyd is on his way out, who’s going to be the #2 wide receiver for this high powered San Diego offense? It’s going to be a camp battle between Patrick Crayton and Vincent Brown and Brown has a great shot at winning it.
The #2 wide receiver spot in San Diego is a valuable one in fantasy football. We’re talking about an offense that features a 3-time Pro Bowl quarterback – Philip Rivers – who threw for 4,700 yards and 30 TDs last season. Even the third option in the passing game will record solid stats with a guy like that throwing the ball around. Hell, Rivers made guys like Naanee and Seyi Ajirotutu fantasy relevant at times last season. If he can do that for those guys, he can do it for Vincent Brown too.
Heading into April’s draft, Brown was considered one of the most NFL ready wide receivers in the entire class. He’s a very polished route runner and he played in a pro style offense at San Diego State. In his final season at SDSU, he recorded 69 catches, 1,352 yards (19,6 yards per catch) and 10 TDs. Even in the Mountain West conference those are pretty impressive numbers.
The biggest knock on him is his speed – he ran a 4.71 at the combine. He later improved that time at his Pro Day when he ran a 4.52 and a 4.57. That’s better, but still not overly fast. He’s also considered undersized at 5’11 and 187 lbs. These two issues are legit concerns, but what he lacks in size and speed he makes up for with great hands and NFL-ready route running skills. Despite his faults, he was still a 3rd round pick in the draft. That should tell you something. The kid can play.
With Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson commanding all the attention from the opposing secondary, Brown (assuming he wins the #2 WR battle in camp) will be open a lot. He’s great at going in and coming out of his breaks, and he has a willingness to go over the middle to make the tough catches. Brown is also willing to put his body on the line and has the toughness to make difficult plays, so in other words he’s an ideal #2 wide receiver in the NFL.
Brown isn’t even a blip on the fantasy football radar. He’s going undrafted in nearly every fantasy league right now. I expect that to change as soon as Malcom Floyd is a Raven (most likely). I’m not the only one who sees Vincent Brown as a sleeper this year, either. Evan Silva of Rotoworld said he’s a serious fantasy sleeper, and our very own Doc touched on it recently too. This guy needs to be in your late round fantasy draft crosshairs.
It’s all about opportunity in the NFL, and Brown is going to get a big one in training camp. The lengthy lockout will make it a little harder for him, but if he takes advantage of this opportunity like I think he will, he’ll be a solid WR4 for your fantasy team.
Edit (August 5th): Malcom Floyd re-signed with the Chargers on a two year deal earlier today which makes me sad. So much for Vincent Brown’s sleeper value this year. Brown still has dynasty league value, but with Floyd back in San Diego he’s not worth drafting in redraft leagues now. Son of a bitch.
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