Fantasy Reaction: A.J. Brown Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles (Fantasy Football)
During Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles traded the 18th and 101st overall picks in exchange for former Titans WR A.J. Brown. Brown, who turns 25 this summer, also secured a long-term deal with Philly as part of the trade, making him the latest superstar WR to cash in this off-season. He secured a 4-year, $100 million deal with $57 million guaranteed. With the 18th overall selection acquired as part of the Brown deal, the Tennessee Titans selected Arkansas WR, Treylon Burks, who should have an opportunity to step into an immediate every down role across from Robert Woods.
Philadelphia now has DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert all under contract for the next four seasons, giving Jalen Hurts every chance to succeed moving forward. From a fantasy perspective, this is obviously a huge move for the Eagles offense and for Jalen Hurts‘ ceiling. A year ago, Hurts finished as the QB9 with a lackluster group of WRs behind 2021 rookie, DeVonta Smith. Brown’s talent and ability to pile up yards after the catch combined with Hurts’ rushing volume, should give Hurts a top 5 fantasy QB ceiling in 2022. Last year, only Lamar Jackson averaged more rushing yards per game than Jalen Hurts.
This acquisition for Philly obviously kills any remaining fantasy value for former 1st round pick, Jalen Reagor, but it’s also a hit to the fantasy value of Goedert and Smith, who led the Eagles in targets (22% share), receptions (64) and yards (916) a season ago. The primary issue for the receiving options in Philadelphia is that the Eagles decided to lean heavily on the running game down the stretch. Only the Patriots ran at a higher rate from Week 8 on last season. If the Eagles continue to establish the running game and Jalen Hurts continues to run the football, volume will be at a premium for Smith and Brown. As a result, both wide outs will need to rely on efficiency in order to return fantasy value. Fortunately for A.J. Brown, the underlying metrics suggest he’s a player who can be highly efficient. A year ago, Brown ranked 4th among qualified WRs in yards per route run (2.72) ahead of fellow superstars Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Tyreek Hill. He was also targeted on 29% of his routes last year, one of the highest marks in football.
The hope for Brown and Smith is that Jalen Hurts can continue to make improvements as a passer. He improved his adjusted completion percentage from 65% in 2020 to 74% in 2021. If Hurts can take another step forward in 2022, it’s possible some of the volume concerns can be mitigated, but on the surface, this looks like a slight downgrade to Brown, Smith and Goedert’s 2022 fantasy outlook while drastically improving the upside for Jalen Hurts.