1 V 1 WR Edition: Antonio Brown Vs Julio Jones
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted players putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as quality of quarterback, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, team passing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, target percentage, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two potential hall of fame wide receivers who have both been elite fantasy players for quite some time in Antonio Brown and Julio Jones.
Both wide receivers put up stellar 2016 seasons and are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Last year Jones caught 83 passes for 1409 yards and 6 touchdowns on 129 targets for an average of 17.0 yards per reception in only 14 games. Brown had yet another pro bowl season catching 106 passes for 1284 yards and 12 touchdowns on 154 targets, averaging 12.1 yards per reception. PFF had Jones as there top graded wide receiver with a 96.5 grade, I have him ranked as my number three wide receiver. Brown was the third ranked wide receiver according to PFF with a 89.6 grade, I have Brown right behind Jones as my 4th ranked wide receiver mostly due to the uncertainty of Rothliberger playing after this season. With that being said let's examine the quarterbacks who throw these two wide receivers the ball, the long term outlook definitely favours Jones, for the simple fact Rothlisberger may already be contemplating retirement. Matt Ryan had an MVP season last year and was PFF's second ranked quarterback with a 92.6 grade, Rothliberger was graded as PFF's eleventh ranked QB with an 83.4 grade. The below average grade for Ben when compared to his career grades was at least partially due to his terribly inconsistent home versus road splits, he was essentially a different quarterback playing away from Heinz Field. I have Matt Ryan ranked as my 8th overall quarterback and Rothliberger ranked as my 15th. Advantage: Jones
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, these two wide receivers have many differences, as I will outline they had very different draft and combine experiences. As far as age goes Jones is roughly a year and a half younger than Brown is and is considerably larger standing 6'3 weighing in at 220 pounds compared to Brown at 5'10, 181 pounds. These two had essentially opposite combines, while Jones's incredible combine solidified his spot atop teams draft boards, Brown's draft stock tumbled as a result of his awful combine results. Jones turned heads at the 2011 combine with his incredible athleticism, running a blazing 4.39 40, also putting up equally impressive jumps with a 135 inch broad jump, and a 38.5 inch vertical. On the other end of the spectrum was Brown's sluggish 4.47 40 time, uninspiring 105 inch broad jump, and 33.5 inch vertical, Jones out jumped Brown by THIRTY inches in the broad jump, and was nearly 0.1 seconds faster in the 40 yard dash, while weighing forty pounds more than Brown. This was directly reflected as they were drafted 189 picks apart all be it in different years, but telling nonetheless. Jones was selected 6th overall in the 2011 NFL draft, Brown was taken with the 26th pick of the SIXTH round 195th overall in the 2010 draft, he was the 22nd wide receiver selected that year. Advantage: Jones
Now lets take a look at these two from more of a team perspective, looking at each teams passing attempts, completion percentage, successful play rate, and teams passing play percentage. Last season Pittsburgh threw the ball 596 times, completing 63.9% of those passes with a 50% successful play rate and as a team passed on 58.9% of offensive plays. In 2016 the Falcons passed 537 times, with a 69.6% completion rate, and a 53% successful play rate, throwing the ball on 57.7% of plays. Atlanta's offense was incredibly efficient in 2016, an efficiency that most will agree is unsustainable moving forward, that combined with the loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, means that the Falcons offense is almost certain to regress to at least some degree in 2017. I personally don't buy that Ben will be retiring at age 36 after the conclusion of this season, my theory on the retirement talk is this. Being the savvy veteran that he is, perhaps Ben knew of the distractions of Bell holding out, Bryant's impending reinstatement and Bryant's multiple Twitter fights with teammates along with Antonio Brown being chauffeured around training camp in a car worth more than the average home. And he attempted to minimize his teammates distractions at training camp by trying to attract some of the attention by telling select media members that this may be his last season. I believe that the Pittsburgh offense is going to be special this season and as long as the “Killer B's” are there I don't see any drop off coming anytime soon. Advantage: Brown
Last season Brown played 330 more snaps than Jones did, 1162 snaps played to 832 snaps, due to the fact Jones only played 14 games and wasn't 100% healthy in several other games. Of the extra 330 snaps played for Brown that only equated to 25 more targets, as he had 154 targets for a 25.8% target share compared to Jones's 129 targets and 24.0% target share. Traditionally of the two wide receivers Brown has consistently played more games than Jones has, rarely missing time over his career, whereas Jones is regularly banged up and almost always misses time only playing two full season in his career thus far. Both players sit atop their teams depth charts, Jones's main target competition is from the two dynamic runningbacks in Atlanta, Freeman and Coleman, other than that Sanu, Gabriel, and Hooper will be a secondary threat to Julio's targets. Brown has a more crowded depth chart to contend with, Bell will no doubt command over 100 targets from the backfield, Martavius Bryant has returned from a year long suspension and will likely garner over 100 targets himself. Also vying for targets will be second round selection Ju-Ju Smith Schuster, slot receiver Eli Rogers and whichever tightend plays the Heath Miller role, one or more of these secondary players will likely catch a decent amount of passes for the Steelers. Regardless of depth chart competition both these elite wide receivers will deservedly receive there annual 150-175 targets. Advantage: Brown
Despite being in the “twilight” of their careers, these two incredible wide receivers just keep producing as high end fantasy starters. You can't go wrong with either of them as your wide receiver one, but as far as this comparison goes I'm giving the slight edge to Jones only due to the fact his quarterback is three full years younger and he himself is over a year younger than Brown. When it comes to 2017 it's essentially a coin flip between these two, whichever one you happen to own just lock them into your starting lineup for the foreseeable future and enjoy the ride. Winner: Julio Jones