Fantasy football spotlight: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions

Fantasy football spotlight: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Fantasy football spotlight: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions

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Of the 35 receivers selected during the 2021 NFL Draft, only one (Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle) caught more passes as a rookie than Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown — and the USC product was taken 106 spots after Waddle. St. Brown also finished third in receiving yards, again behind Waddle and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase, and tied for third in receiving touchdowns. There’s no way to view his 90-912-5 showing as anything other than an unqualified success.

While it’s tempting to expect second-year players to build on their debut campaign, St. Brown shouldn’t be viewed as a lock to exceed (or even match) his rookie numbers. For starters, it’s important to keep in mind just how much of his production came during the season’s final six weeks. During that stretch, he was targeted 67 times and accounted for 51 receptions, 560 yards, and five touchdowns. That means in his first 11 games, St. Brown posted a 39-352-0 line.

You can’t simply chalk up his increased role to improved chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff, either, as St. Brown’s usage exploded when tight end T.J. Hockenson was lost for the season with a thumb injury. Hockenson is fully healthy now, and he does much of his work in those same underneath and intermediate areas as St. Brown.

Detroit has added more talent to the receiving corps, drafting Alabama’s Jameson Williams (knee) in the first round and signing veteran DJ Chark Jr. in free agency. They also picked up Josh Reynolds off waivers last November, and he returns with the benefit of a full offseason to learn the offense to go with his preexisting chemistry with Goff stemming from their time with the Los Angeles Rams. Running back D’Andre Swift will get his fair share of targets, too.

It’s unknown when Williams will make his NFL debut as he’s currently working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in January, but once he does the Lions will suddenly have a deep, talented group of pass catchers — something that wasn’t even close to true coming into 2021, when you could make a strong case that Detroit had the worst group of wideouts in the NFL.

Fantasy football outlook

So, where does all that leave St. Brown? It’s hard to say. Hockenson seems the biggest threat to the second-year receiver’s usage as both project as possession options. Then again, Hockenson and Chark have had trouble staying healthy, and Williams’ return date is unknown.

Still, viewing St. Brown as more than a midrange WR3 seems a bit aggressive, even for PPR leagues. He also has the look of a possible “sell high” candidate early on as he’s someone whose role may decrease as the season wears on. Expect fewer receptions, which isn’t ever a great scenario for a receiver whose entire worth is based on volume.

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