In the 2013 NFL season, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown became a lightning rod in fantasy football. In his third NFL season, Brown posted 110 receptions for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns. He became the first player in league history to post at least five catches for 50 yards in all 16 games.
According to Pro-Football-Reference, Brown scored 199 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues, and finished as the seventh-ranked wide receiver in fantasy points. In his rookie season in 2011, he put up 127 fantasy points and in 2012 he put up 105 fantasy points. So the numbers indicate that Brown had a major jump in his fantasy value this past season.
The Steelers got everything they hoped for and more when they chose Brown over Mike Wallace. He will be 26 heading into next season and there is little doubt that he should be considered a fantasy wide receiver this year. Pittsburgh were forced to lean heavily on Brown for most of the season with an under-performing cast working behind him.
Fantasy owners should look for Brown to perform even better in 2014, because 2013 draft pick Markus Wheaton should be fully healthy heading into the 2014 season and should gain valuable experience opposite from Brown. Wheaton’s hulking body frame and deep-threat ability should take some of the attention off of Brown and allow him a little more freedom to work deep over the middle where he excels. Brown has the special ability to beat just about any No. 1 corner in the league.
His 2013 season shouldn’t be viewed as a fluke by fantasy football owners. Take his numbers this past season as a harbinger. Antonio Brown should be a valuable third-round pick in fantasy drafts and a legit WR-1 on any fantasy roster in 2014.