As many of us slept cozily in our beds on Saturday night, the Raiders and Steelers were reaching an agreement that sent All-World wide receiver Antonio Brown to Oakland in exchange for third and fifth round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. On the surface, it’s an amazingly low price for a player many believe is the best receiver on the planet. With Le’Veon Bell set to leave Pittsburgh via free agency later this week, it’s truly going to be a changing of the guard in Pittsburgh. As for Oakland, they finally make a move in the Jon Gruden era that includes getting a star player instead of sending one away. As we hit the start of free agency, this single trade may have the biggest impact of any of them. Let’s run down the players who have had their dynasty values affected as a result of the trade.
Antonio Brown, WR OAK
Rather than go too deep into the impact on Brown, I’ll point you to the great Instant Analysis: Antonio Brown traded to the Oakland Raiders article written by our own Tom Kislingbury, I will say this, though. The Raiders ended up trading Amari Cooper for a first round pick and replaced him with a better player for a third and fifth round selection. While it’s fair to wonder if the Raiders and Brown can co-exist long-term, that’s a pretty startling turn of events, even considering the antics from Brown as of late. While some will argue Cooper is younger and has more long-term potential, his best season in Oakland is equitable to Brown’s seventh best campaign while in Pittsburgh. Oakland is getting a serious weapon at a pretty low cost. Brown’s numbers will likely take a hit in Oakland as they haven’t had a 1,200 yard receiver since Jerry Rice and haven’t had a 100-catch season since Tim Brown was roaming the field. Still, Jon Gruden will use Brown early and often and while Brown’s ADP will slip a touch based on his age and the fact he just had a perceived downgrade in his quarterback, owners shouldn’t panic too much. In short, Oakland isn’t Buffalo.
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Derek Carr, QB OAK
Adding arguably the league’s best wide receiver to your team is never a bad thing for a quarterback who really needs playmakers. Regardless, this is a pivotal season for Carr. While he posted the best season of his career last year with 4,049 passing yards and a completion percentage of 68.9, he only threw 19 touchdown passes (Brown had 15 touchdown catches on his own last year) and also threw ten interceptions. In a league with passing being a premium and a coach who desperately wants to run a vertical offense, Carr is squarely on notice. The Raiders didn’t give Brown the guaranteed money he wanted to see him not get the ball, so he won’t be ignored like Cooper was at times and they’ll get someone to throw the ball to him if Carr can’t get it done. Regardless, this is good news for Carr at the moment. Having someone like Marcell Ateman being your number one receiver wasn’t going to bear much fruit and didn’t give him much of a chance to be successful. Carr’s ADP should rise a touch with this news and should climb more when and if the Raiders add more offensive weapons. At this point, he’s a QB2 with low-end QB1 upside if things start to click – that answers the question of, “What can Brown do for you?”
Marcell Ateman, WR OAK
Speaking of Ateman, the clock struck midnight for his tenure as a primary option over the weekend and it had nothing to do with daylight savings time. He remains a bit of a sleeper as he showed some flashes last year, but he’s not a priority to be picked up at the moment. There are going to be many more mouths to feed in Oakland, as was expected all along.
Jordy Nelson, WR OAK
Nelson’s first year in Oakland was rather non-descript as he posted just 63 catches for 739 yards and scored three touchdowns. It’s clear Nelson isn’t going to recapture the magic he once had in Green Bay when he recorded three straight 1,250 yard seasons and scored 25 touchdowns from 2013-2016, despite losing a season due to injury. Having defenses key in on Brown could help Nelson in the long run, but he just doesn’t look like starting material in dynasty leagues at this point and may be more of a roster clogger. After all, he really didn’t really flourish with tons of targets after the Raiders were without Cooper, Martavis Bryant and Brandon LaFell all at the same time. In fact, while he did pile up some yards and targets with that trio out, he didn’t score a touchdown after week five last season.
Seth Roberts, WR OAK
As a 28-year old slot receiver who posted 45/494/2 line last year, there’s really not a ton to love with Roberts. He could have some decent PPR games now and then but adding Brown and likely more talent isn’t going to help his cause too much.
Paul Butler, TE OAK
Good luck hanging on to that #84 there, Paul.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB PIT
Losing the game’s ultimate playmaker won’t help anyone’s value. However, Big Ben has shown to be one of the most resilient quarterbacks in the league during his long and illustrious career. While losing Brown will be tough, he still has a ton of weapons at his disposal and should be able to post a few more solid seasons. While his ADP could dip a touch, it would be surprising to see it tank. If it does, he’s a prime buy candidate for contending dynasty teams.
James Conner, RB PIT
There is still a chance the Steelers add some backfield help, so owners of Conner have to be waiting on pins and needles this week. If the Steelers do go into the season with Conner as their lead back and Jaylen Samuels as their change of pace, there should be even more targets for both of them. This is a “wait and see” situation, but Conner looks to be a key player in dynasty leagues next season. Samuels could flourish if Conner was to get injured as well. At this point, Conner and JuJu look like the two replacements for Brown and Bell, who fared, oh, pretty well in those coveted spots on the depth chart.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR PIT
Some will believe having the defense’s best player guarding JuJu will hurt his production. Others say having Brown out of town and leaving 168 targets on the table can do nothing but help Smith-Schuster. The truth likely is somewhere in between. Regardless, JuJu has simply become the wide receiver we always wanted to see out of USC and his 111 catches, 1,426 receiving yards and seven touchdowns have him clearly in the WR1 conversation. If you have an owner in your league who doesn’t believe he’s capable of improving those numbers or even repeating that success, it’s time to pounce. I would expect his ADP to rise in the coming months as a pillar for dynasty owners to build around. His situation is clearly different but any challenges that he now faces should be mitigated by the fact the Steelers are going to just pepper him with targets.
James Washington, WR PIT
If there’s a winner in the trade other than Carr, it’s likely James Washington. The second year player comes off a decent rookie year that featured 16 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown as he was able to get some scraps left over from Brown and Smith-Schuster here and there. As Washington likely takes a step up on the depth chart (pending what the Steelers do in the draft and free agency), there’s a ton of breakout potential here now. Roethlisberger had 675 attempts last year and that was by far his career high. The Steelers may ratchet that down a touch, but 550 is nearly certain – those targets need to be eaten up somewhere. Washington finished the season strong with at least 60 receiving yards in two of his final three games and should enter camp with a golden opportunity in both fantasy and reality.
Ryan Switzer, WR PIT
Switzer could have some sleepy value playing in the slot this year. With 36 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown, he didn’t really make too many waves last season. However, everyone on the depth chart is really taking a step up and Switzer is no exception. While not a priority pickup for dynasty owners, he’s a player to monitor this off-season.
Vance McDonald, TE PIT
It’s possible the Steelers bring back Jesse James, but McDonald just needs to stay healthy to be productive. If he can do that, there will be a major opportunity for him to become very relevant in dynasty leagues this year as a red zone threat and middle of the field producer. While we wouldn’t bet on him staying healthy all year, he could be a real bargain in dynasty leagues if he did.
Trey Griffey, Ka’Raun White, Diontae Spencer, WRs PIT
Hey guys! You may have a chance to make a team if the Steelers don’t add more talent with those extra draft picks they received.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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