The last year has been a calm, peaceful sojourn for Antonio Brown. In March 2019, Brown was traded from the Steelers to the Raiders in exchange for a 3rd and a 5th round pick. The change of scenery was exactly what the doctor ordered *insert fart joke.* Here’s the timeline of AB’s stress-free last 12 months:
July 25, 2019 Shows up to training camp with frost bite on both feet
July 30, 2019 Protests NFL ban of his favorite helmet
August 9, 2019 Threatens to quit football over helmet
August 18, 2019 Loses helmet grievance, leaves camp, fined $40K by Raiders
August 22,2019 Skips mandatory pregame walk through
September 4, 2019 Receives letter from Raiders GM detailing fines, angrily confronts GM
September 5, 2019 Suspended for conduct detrimental to the team
September 6, 2019 Delivers emotional apology to team
September 6, 2019 Posts phone conversation with Coach Gruden on YouTube
September 7, 2019 Fined $215K by Raiders voiding guaranteed $29 million in contract
September 7, 2019 Released by Raiders
September 9, 2019 Signed by Patriots
September 10, 2019 Civil lawsuit filed by accuser alleging rape and sexual assault
September 19, 2019 Loses Nike sponsorship
September 19, 2019 Sends threatening text messages to accuser
September 20, 2019 Released by Patriots
September 22, 2019 Says he won’t play in the NFL ever again
September 23, 2019 Re-enrolls at Central Michigan University
October 9, 2019 Asks Patriots to resign him over Instagram
January 7, 2020 Ranked #76 in idiot Donkey Teeth’s Top 100 Dynasty Rankings
January 14, 2020 Police called to house for domestic disturbance
January 16, 2020 Agent Drew Rosenhaus terminates relationship
January 23, 2020 Arrested for burglary and battery
February 1, 2020 Issues apology to NFL
So it turns out I was a little over-zealous in ranking Antonio Brown #76 back in early January. At this point, seems at best questionable whether he ever plays in the NFL again. Mea culpa!
But what’s buried in this whole AB saga is the Steelers heist of the Raiders. Pittsburgh turned around and used that early 3rd rounder from the Raiders to draft wide receiver Diontae Johnson out of Toledo, who I ranked #88 overall in my Top 200 Dynasty Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Football. Coincidentally, some fans have done the unthinkable and comp’d Johnson to Antonio Brown. It’s a completely unfair comparison, but let’s do it anyway!
|Antonio Brown||Diontae Johnson|
|Height||5′ 10″||5′ 10″|
|Weight||186 lbs||183 lbs|
|Draft Round / Pick #||6th / 195||3rd / 66|
|40 Yard Dash||4.56 secs||4.53 secs|
|3 Cone||6.98 secs||7.09 secs|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.18 secs||4.45 secs|
|Vertical Leap||33.5 inches||33.5 inches|
|Broad Jump||105 inches||123 inches|
|Bench Press Rep||13 reps||15 reps|
|Rookie Rec Yards||167||680|
|Rookie Rec TDs||0||5|
What’s this tell us? Not much, except they had similar make-up and athleticism coming out of college, but it’s still fun to look at. And Diontae outperformed AB in their rookie seasons—note: Johnson also played in seven more games. But even in year two Brown only had 69 receptions (nice) and 2 touchdowns, though he did tally an impressive 1,108 receiving yards. AB also enjoyed a prime Big Ben slinging him the skin while DJ suffered the dreadful duo of Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph.
I discussed my concerns about Roethleisberger’s elbow surgery and the Steelers’ future quarterback situation in my JuJu Smith-Schuster Dynasty Outlook, so I won’t rehash them here. This is pretty much where my reservations regarding Diontae Johnson come to an end. As a dynamic possession receiving threat, he can still produce even with sub-par QB play if it comes to that—see Rudolph and Hodges. It’s also worth mentioning Johnson underwent a supposedly routine sports hernia procedure last week. Likely a non-factor, but should be monitored.
The most impressive takeaway when diving into Johnson’s rookie stats is his ability to create separation. He posted an average separation mark (distance between him and the nearest defender when the ball arrives) of 3.6 yards. This landed him at #1 overall among all wide receivers last season. For reference, Antonio Brown’s average separation from 2016-2018 was 2.6, 2.6 and 2.9 yards respectively.
The Juju Smith-Schuster fan club points to the failings of Rudolph and Hodges as the main culprit for JuJu’s 2019 downturn. But how was Diontae Johnson able to post such promising rookie numbers even after missing valuable time to injuries during OTAs and training camp? Is it possible Johnson is actually the best wide receiver on the Steelers’ roster? Was drafting him at 99th overall in one of my ongoing best ball slow drafts a reach? Is he more mentally stable than Antonio Brown?
Buy now, ask questions later! If you can grasp the Johnson for a late 2020 1st or early 2nd, I’d make the move.
All statistics sourced from ProFootballReference.com & NextGenStats.NFL.com