DLF Player Spotlight: Vincent Brown


Editor’s Note: We recently interviewed Vincent Brown of the Chargers and many of our readers contacted us, wanting more. Today, we take a deeper look.

New coach, injuries everywhere and not a whole lot of fantasy relevance – that’s one way to look at the San Diego Chargers if you’re a dynasty fantasy football owner. Injuries to the offensive line haven’t helped Phillip Rivers, Ryan Matthews is consistently auditioning to be Mr. Glass in the “Unbreakable” sequel, Antonio Gates’ production slows as he ages and the receivers, led by Danario Alexander, are a mess. Sure, DX had a good run at the end of last season, but how long is he going to last before he’s back on the injury report?  He may not even be back with the team, While Alexander will be held and started by most, when the dust clears, I believe Vincent Brown will be the wide receiver everyone will want to own.

Vincent Brown was much the talk during last off-season and heading into training camp. His “sleeper potential” campaign was in full swing. Here was a player coming of an impressive rookie season where he posted stats of 19 receptions, 329 yards and two touchdowns. What’s equally impressive was his 17.3 yards per catch average. Granted, those stats were taken over the eight games he contributed in. But looking even deeper into those stats, you see his lowest yards per catch game was 8.0 and his next lowest was a robust 13.0 – both on one reception games.  It’s all uphill from there with his highest yards per catch game being 22.0, another one catch game. While his numbers of receptions aren’t the most exciting it’s the yards per catch that intrigues me the most and translates to one thing – he’s the deep ball threat in San Diego and he’s only going to get better.

As the hype grew and preseason games began, there was only one thing that could stop Brown from ascending to the next level in his second year, injury. In the Chargers second preseason game, Brown went down with a broken ankle. Optimism remained as Brown landed on the Chargers IR/designated for return and owners hoped they would get him back towards the end of the season. That plan never materialized and owners were left with Brown on their IR or bench and many question marks as to what they should do with him.

An argument could be made against Brown about his yards per catch. For example, according to Pro Football Focus, he only had 19 receptions on 39 targets which equals out to 50%. This is fairly low for wide receivers that average a 60% catch rate. Could much of that been attributed to him being a rookie and not being on the same page as Rivers? Sure. But when looking back at 2011 game film, most notably against the Raiders (five catches on nine targets), the Bears (one catch on four targets) and the Broncos (three catches on 11 targets), you see it wasn’t only rookie mistakes. Against all three teams, Rivers was heavily rushed and having a banged up offensive line caused him to make erratic and rushed throws. Brown had his share of drops, but what I noticed in all three games was Rivers would often throw into double coverage. In one-on-one coverage, Rivers would throw up the ball forcing Brown to back up off his route and go up to make a play. At times it worked, with Brown doing a great job of fighting for the ball. Other times, the ball flew over his head or directly at the cornerback. With a complete overhaul of the front office and coaching staff, hopefully the offensive line is a priority so Rivers will get time to hit his receivers. The offensive scheme could also change to help Brown improve on his low catch percentage.

As the 2012 season began, Vincent Jackson was gone, Brown was hurt, Malcom Floyd was busy being Malcom Floyd and free agent bust Robert Meachem was providing no help, so the Chargers were desperate to find some life.

Enter Danario Alexander.

The injury prone wide receiver was dumped by the Rams where he struggled to stay on the field despite showing the talent when on it. I, like many, was on board with the addition of DX and knew if he could stay healthy, he could be a much needed breath of fresh air to a depleted receiving corps and a solid fantasy contributor. He was that and more and had a great run during the last two months of the season. According to Pro Football  Focus, he posted stats of 37 receptions, 658 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with a yards per catch of 17.8 and a 70% catch rate. It also made him the WR6 in PPR formats – not too shabby for a player with brittle knees who made Ryan Mathews look like an iron man.

DX is the counter argument to Brown. Both players give Phillip Rivers solid deep threats to throw at. With Alexander’s emergence, does this mean Brown should play second fiddle to DX and the Chargers should throw all their eggs in one basket? The simple answer is no. Brown gives them depth and fantasy owners a dynasty player to hold on to. DX is the short term answer and will always have the injury prone tag attached to his name – that’s the concern and should be yours as well.

Danario is the sell now player, Brown is the guy you want to own long term. Keep in mind, Alexander’s two month stretch was the longest he’s been on an NFL field. I remember adding DX and thinking I had a steal. Sitting back and reaping the rewards is always nice, but there was always a thought that kept me at bay. Would his run and good story end in a terrible way with an injury? Would it all be a fluke? Luckily, he held on and helped many owners to championships. But as a fantasy owner, do you really want to add that headache to an already tall list to deal with? Granted, with every player you own there’s always concern that they may go down at any time. But when you own a guy who’s been in the league for two years and only played in 18 games, your concern is warranted that he could break at any time. With the Chargers giving him the original tender, he could just as easily be gone since a team would not have to give up any draft pick compensation should they sign DX to a contract the Chargers decline to match.

Heading into the 2013 season, Vincent Brown will have had a good year off to recover. He’ll be determined and ready to contribute. Even with what appears to be a logjam of wide receivers after Alexander for the number two spot, I believe Brown will emerge as the starting receiver opposite DX and eventually take that top spot. I have been on the Brown bandwagon since he was drafted and was very excited about his prospects going into last season. With Brown being a third-year year wide receiver and with the situation of the Chargers I’m even more excited about his potential. While the Chargers, as a whole, aren’t the most attractive option in dynasty, the one player that you could and should make a case for is Vincent Brown himself.

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  1. Derek

    March 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

    DX has played in 67% of his teams games in 3 seasons, Brown has played in 44% of his teams games in 2 seasons… I think the injury concern over DX, although obviously there, is a little over blown!

    • Jesse

      March 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      DX’s injury concerns are not overblown at all. The fact that Brown has missed more time (as a %) does not alleviate DX’s injury concerns.

      Certainly is worth noting Brown’s injury concerns, though.

      • Mark Rockwell

        March 12, 2013 at 8:08 pm

        The injury concerns with DX are serious IMO. When you talk about multiple surgeries on the same knee you worry about loss of cartilage and ligament instability. Things that will lead to frequent injuries and a shorter career. Much different then breaking a bone, pulling a hamstring ect.

        • Chad Heiberger

          March 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

          Agree, DX knee looks like Curtis Martin,s knee but 10 years younger. Bone on bone cartilage is not good.

          • Vincent

            March 17, 2013 at 6:33 am

            Should not compare injury concerns about DX with those of Brown. DX’s problem knees are a chronic, ongoing condition that affects projections about his future availability and productivity. Brown suffered an acute one-time injury as a result of getting tangled up. It could have happened to anyone. As long as his ankle has healed properly, there’s no reason to believe that it will have a long-lasting impact.

  2. Paul

    March 12, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I don’t know the exact numbers, but in the second half of the season no quarterback-receiver connection had a higher passer rating than that of Philip Rivers and Danario Alexander.

    • Paul

      March 12, 2013 at 9:48 am

      So basically, as long as Alexander is in San Diego he will be Rivers’ top guy

      • Scott Peak

        March 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Those are great points. But, Norv Turner is gone now, and there is some uncertainty about the role DX will play under a new head coach and offensive coordinator. This is speculation, but if the Chargers had big plans for DX, why would they give him a low tender and risk losing him now? Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his value to the Chargers. It is entirely possible that Vincent Brown could take over as the WR1 on this team, whether or not DX returns. I think he has the talent to do so, and Mike McCoy had nice things to say about VB recently. We won’t truly know until the games start, but I think VB has a better shot at short and long-term success with the Chargers than DX. Given DX has an ADP of 80 and VB ADP 120, I VB is the far better value.

  3. Doug Veatch

    March 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I like Brown just a much as the next guy, but I don’t think that a guy that ran a 4.71 forty time at the combine (pre-injury I might add) should ever be considered a deep threat. Brown’s game is comprised around the fact that he is an excellent route runner. He will never consistently beat DB’s deep at the NFL level.

    • Scott Peak

      March 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      His 40 yard dash may not be impressive, but he was able to beat DBs deep and high-point the ball very well last year. But I agree, he won’t be mistaken for a burner anytime soon.

      • Jesse

        March 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm

        Do you mean in 2011? Even then, we have some serious sample size concerns, no?

        • Jesse

          March 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm

          Not to mention Brown got the soft coverage across from Vincent Jackson.

          I don’t hate Brown, but I do think he seems to be overvalued right now. I don’t think he is an NFL WR1.

        • Scott Peak

          March 12, 2013 at 10:24 pm

          Mostly 2011, you’re right. But VB did score a TD on the play he broke his ankle, and showed good explosion to get open with 3 DBs nearby. Granted it was a preseason game but it showed his potential, at least.

    • Vincent

      March 17, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Brown’s game is versatile and multi-faceted. He can play all three receiver positions. For a smaller receiver, he can go get the ball well because of his timing and leaping ability. He also has good hands. Deep threat receivers can be one-dimensional, running mostly vertical routes. Right now, Brown is almost entirely potential because he hasn’t played a lot, but I am inclined to put a lot of stock in his coaching staff’s opinion of him and what they have planned for him. He was projected to have a very big role last year before he got hurt. He was very productive in the preseason. Granted it’s just the preseason, but that’s still something to go off of.

  4. Derek

    March 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    DX didnt help me win a title…..Week 15 ( conference championship week) he had a freaking goose egg . ZERO pts…..Didn’t help Demaryius only had 1rec-13yds too………I like DX, he’s still young, but he’s my reserve WR behind Cobb, D.Thomas, A.Brown…..im gonna play him out a little longer before I make a move.

    • Jesse

      March 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Yea, I’m in one redraft and had massive injury issues all year on a team with a short bench. Picked up DX as my savior, got knocked out in week 15. C’est la vie.

  5. Kyle

    March 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Would y’all keep DX, Garçon, or Jennings in a dynasty PPR league?

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