Here Comes the Sun God: Should You Bet On Amon-Ra St. Brown? (Fantasy Football)

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Ja’Marr Chase, LSU. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama. DeVonta Smith, Alabama. Kadarius Toney, Florida. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota.

Eighteen WRs were taken before Amon-Ra St. Brown was drafted mid-fourth round in the 2021 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions, and on the second episode of this season’s HBO Hard Knocks, we learned that Brown knows the name and school of each one. Every. Single. One. He recited them in order during this year’s second episode of the series with a look of frustration and determination.

St. Brown is a fighter, and this was fuel to his fire.

Winning countless fantasy owner’s championships in 2021 on the back of four weeks of at least 90 receiving yards and a TD, St. Brown was a WR1 and finished in the top 10 through the last four weeks of the season. He was behind only Cooper Kupp in WR fantasy scoring during that stretch. It seems that half of the fantasy community expects intense regression and doesn’t believe he can duplicate the end of the 2021 season. The other half thinks the Sun God will rise again to a potential top 20 WR finish in 2022. Should you gamble on St. Brown and a questionable Lions offense in your drafts this season?

I believe the signs point to a big 2022 season for Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Second-Year Breakout

Amon-Ra St. Brown had a slow start to his rookie season. He never had more than eight targets thrown his way during the first twelve weeks resulting in an average of 35 yards over ten games.  Week thirteen in their huge, closely contested game with Minnesota is where the tide turned. St. Brown had twelve targets in that game, resulting in 86 yards, one TD, and an 83% catch rate. His TD came at the end of the game resulting in the Lions’ first win of the season. A hero was born.

Most fantasy owners are well versed in the year two WR breakout season. Fellow Ballers writer Marvin Elequin published a fantastic article in July discussing breakout WR trends. St. Brown ticks a lot of the boxes to become a 2022 breakout. Turning 23 in October, St. Brown will be the most common age in breakout candidates. Sure, fewer breakouts come from pass catchers drafted in the fourth round, but with St. Brown, it’s the fact that almost 78% of breakouts occur by a player’s third year in the league. Make sure to check out Marvin’s article to dig deeper into this.

Sharing Targets

Anti-St. Brown advocates base their argument on D’Andre Swift and TJ Hockenson than on St. Brown himself. During weeks 13 – 18, where Amon-Ra found his footing, Swift missed four games, and Hockenson missed five. There were three overlap games where both did not play. During those three games (Weeks 14-16), St. Brown had at least ten targets each week and went for 73, 90, and 91 yards. He has a TD in two out of three of those weeks. I get it. St. Brown had more opportunity during those weeks, but those numbers were pretty consistent with Week 13, where Hockenson played, and weeks 17 and 18, where Swift was back. The targets are the big deal here – obviously, the pass catchers have to capitalize on them, but it seems like Goff has started to trust the young WR.

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18
Targets 12 11 10 10 11 10
Rec Yards 86 73 90 91 111 109
TDs 1 0 1 1 1 1

The Big Picture

The big question is if St. Brown will start in 2022 where he left off at the end of 2021. QB Jared Goff has waxed lyrical about his young WR – I’m looking for him when things break down, and I’m looking for him when we need a play,” Goff said. “Right now, he’s that guy. He can take a sweep to the house. At the same time, he understands defense and coverage, and it’s so rare for a young player to have that ability. He keeps asking the right questions and understanding what’s going on over there. He’s going [up].

The Lions drafted talented WR Jameson Williams with their 12th pick in the first round this year, clearly building a young solid receiving core for Goff. Williams tore his ACL in the National Championship game and continues rehabbing his knee, leaving the door open for St. Brown to be the clear WR1, at least through the first half of the season. St. Brown had about 22% of the Lions’ total passing targets and had almost 24% of the Lions’ total receptions, finishing 2021 with 119 targets.

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St. Brown clearly has the dedication and drive needed to succeed this season. On Hard Knocks, we see him catch 202 balls a day from the jugs machine after each practice, drilling the hands that a WR needs to have in the NFL. According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, St. Brown is being drafted at the end of the seventh round as WR33. This is a potential WR1 for a team that will probably be throwing a lot, trying to battle back from being behind in games. His ADP translates to a great draft cost, but he might get more expensive with the “Hard Knocks” bump.

Amon-Ra is dedicated. He is passionate. And he has one heck of a chip on his shoulder. He is the type of player you want to bet on. This season I’ll follow the sun.

Comments

Gangsta Marmot says:

Great article. He is a great draft pick considering he will likely get off to a hot start and you can likely trade him to another team and miss out on any possible dip when Williams comes back from injury.

Nathan Gahan says:

Good article but does feel a little too rooted in narrative, especially when that narrative comes from a reality TV show that makes it buck on creating drama.

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