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Few fantasy football wide receivers have seen their stock rise as quickly as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown. The Central Michigan product has widely been considered a solid No. 2 fantasy option, but with news of Mike Wallace ending his holdout, it might be easy for owners to forget about Brown.
During the last four games of the 2011 season, Brown amassed 334 yards and one touchdown. In contrast, Wallace totaled only 216 yards with zero scores. Only 85 yards separated both wideouts for the whole season, though Wallace did post eight TDs compared to Brown’s two. Heading into the 2012 season, expect Brown to pick up where he left off last year. When speaking with NFL Fantasy LIVE’s Jason Smith, Brown stated the extra time he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have had in Wallace’s absence has “paid off.” He added the duo have “definitely hit it off in camp,” and told fantasy football enthusiasts they can expect him to “be consistent” and he will be focused on “improving my YAC (yards after catch) and touchdowns.”
Fantasy owners know all too well how holdouts often don’t compare to their former selves during those seasons. Though we’ve normally experienced this with running backs, there really are no concrete comparisons when it comes to wideouts. The closest similarity came in 2005 when Javon Walker threatened to holdout from Green Bay Packers camp. The wideout didn’t take part in voluntary workouts, but he ultimately reported to camp on time and played during the preseason. However, Walker would go on to tear his ACL in the home-opener and miss the rest of the 2005 campaign.
For Wallace, it’s not only about whether he stayed in shape; he has also missed learning coach Todd Haley’s new offensive scheme. It’s one thing to read a playbook, but another to actually practice the scheme in live action. Wallace will not see in-game action until the regular season begins, and it’s expected he will take some time to adjust. Still, Wallace currently has an ADP of 39.48, while Brown is being selected almost five rounds later with an ADP of 80.51. With the Steelers wideouts facing the second-toughest strength of schedule in 2012, those extra weeks of conditioning and learning the system should pay dividends for Brown. Fantasy owners should still consider the third-year receiver a solid No. 2 option, but should be wary of using an early-round selection on his speedy counterpart.
The draft is all about value, something Brown can do for you.
Follow Adrian Mojica on Twitter @FFFdaily