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:

 

March 10, 2019             Traded from Steelers to Raiders

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 Class 2010 2019
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 Receptions 16 59
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