Welcome to Week 1 over-reaction. The NFL season is short, which drives a wild September waiver wire every year. You have drafted starters already out multiple weeks, bench fliers that didn’t do anything last weekend, and are looking at a pile flotsam on your league’s waiver wire. Hopefully these next few words will help you make sense of what to do with at least one position.
Pick up A.J. Brown. That’s it. He’s your #1 priority then figure the rest out. What he did in his cameo Sunday is not a one-off performance soon to be forgotten about, it’s just the beginning. Given his snap count (43%) he clearly did not have a big role etched for him in his debut, but that is going to change very quickly. Derrick Henry‘s 75 yard screen pass touchdown aside, the only other Titan player to net more than 10 yards receiving was the ageless Delanie Walker. Perpetual tease Corey Davis was the team’s #1, but he also failed to register a catch. Yes, Brown only saw four targets on an offense that attempted just 24 passes, but the team was playing with a multiple score lead and only attempted two passes in the fourth quarter. While that will often be the Titans ideal game plan this season and needs to be accounted for, as we all know games in this league often do not follow the ideal path. Game script, increased usage, and continued play like Sunday will present more opportunities for the rookie.
He has slipped somewhat under the radar, not just because of the Titans offense, but because he missed large portions of training camp due to nagging injuries. He was a known prospect, as evident by his second round draft pedigree, but he often was over shadowed by his more physically imposing teammate, D.K. Metcalf. This despite Brown vastly out performing Metcalf, having the Ole Miss offense funnel through him then out to Metcalf. Brown possesses a rare combination of bulk and agility. Often times receivers fall more into one category than the other, but Brown is adept in both. Mix that with just enough long speed and you have a dangerous weapon that can be deployed all over the field. Route running is something every rookie must develop and Brown is no exception, but his starting point is substantially higher than his peers. He’s deliberate with them, but he showed an ability to mix up his speeds and mislead opposing cornerbacks in college too. Factor in how difficult it is to jam a man of his size at the line and it begins to paint the picture of what we saw Sunday. It was just three catches but crisp routes, defenders playing on their heels, good ball skills, stiff arms, shaking off tackles, yards after the catch, and finishing falling forward were all on display.
That said, you’re not deploying him Week 2 unless you’re already in a jam. As great as he was in his debut we need to see more before we can use him in our every week lineup. He needs more snaps, targets, and we need to see how he’s utilized in a less positive game script. The reason you’re adding him now is the long game. Of the piles of interesting young wide receivers available on waivers he has the clearest path to a sustainable role. He may not be the highest producer the next few weeks of those available, but over the course of the rest of the season he has the greatest likelihood to provide consistent impact. This is why he will likely be available for you when waivers process. The alternatives have greater short term viability, but their circumstances are subject to change for the worse whereas that’s not the case with Brown. Trust what you did draft night and have faith that you will not need to go to your bench until both injuries and byes dictate. At that time this stock will be fully vested and you’ll be in a position to cash-in.
This week’s Flavor of the Week is a seafood boil bag. We all know what one is, but we never think to order one. When we’re told one is available we jump at the opportunity to feast on it and are never disappointed though. Like Brown it’s a southern staple and can be made in many different ways. Shrimp, crawfish, andouille sausage, potatoes, corn, etc. all boiled in a bag with butter, garlic, lemon, Old Bay, among other flavor enhancing seasoning. I’m salivating just thinking about mixing one of these up. Stuff A.J. Brown in a bag long enough and you will feel the same way about this wide receiver option soon enough too.