Outside of maybe Lamar Jackson, nobody had a better fantasy football Week One than Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown. After battling a foot injury for the majority of the offseason, the first-round pick exploded during his NFL debut. Brown recorded four receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the hapless Miami Dolphins. Brown is largely unowned in fantasy football leagues and is going to be a top waiver claim for Week Two. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the rookie moving forward.
Marquise Brown Fantasy Football Outlook Following Monster NFL Debut
First off, let’s look at exactly how Brown put up his ridiculous numbers. The final stat line is obviously fantastic, but the way he did it is a little concerning. Despite having four catches, Brown only played in 12 snaps. This is obviously worrisome, as it’s impossible to be effective with that type of workload. Additionally, he did this against the Miami Dolphins, who are objectively the worst team in the NFL.
Brown’s low snap percentage might have something to do with his lingering foot injury, as the rookie didn’t partake in Friday’s practice session. That said, it’s more likely that Baltimore took him out because the game got out of hand. The Ravens won, 59-10, and the game wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. Lamar Jackson hardly played in the second half, and Baltimore didn’t want to put any unnecessary injury risk on their budding stars.
Brown’s obviously not going to do this every week, but he’s going to play more than 12 snaps per game. With that in mind, let’s take a look at his talent and opportunity to see what we can realistically expect moving forward.
The Talent of Marquise Brown
Marquise Brown was widely considered to be the best wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft. While DK Metcalf got all the hype, Brown was the proven playmaker with an ability to win all over the field. The Ravens took Brown with the 25th overall pick, but he probably would have been a top-15 selection if it weren’t for his Lisfranc injury. Some players never fully recover from that type of injury, so Brown carried more risk than the average first-round selection. The Ravens rolled the dice on the high-upside talent, hoping he’d still have his explosiveness and elite speed following the ailment.
After one game, it’s clear to see that Brown didn’t lose a step. The rookie obviously had a huge game, but watching the film shows that he didn’t just capitalize on busted coverages. On his first touchdown, Brown caught a simple slant pattern, broke an Eric Rowe tackle, and turned on the jets while blasting past the rest of the defense. This wasn’t capitalizing on a defensive miscue; this was a genuinely talented player making a huge play on his own. This ability means that these numbers are sustainable to an extent and not just a one-time fluke.
The talent is there for Marquise Brown, but every good fantasy football player knows that talent only goes so far. Marquise Brown needs to be in a favorable opportunity if he’s going to be a reliable player in fantasy football.
Marquise Brown’s Opportunity
Fortunately, Marquise Brown has a great opportunity ahead of him. The Baltimore Ravens jettisoned most of their receivers from the 2018 squad, leaving a gaping hole atop the depth chart. Willie Snead is the only notable veteran in town, and he exclusively works the short part of the field. Brown can line up all over the formation and possesses the ability to beat defenses at every level. Despite his lack of experience, Brown is clearly atop the wide receiver depth chart.
Lamar Jackson had a great day throwing the ball, but the Ravens aren’t going to be a passing team in 2019. Baltimore wants to revolutionize the running game and give Jackson no more than 30 passing attempts per game. Thanks to Baltimore’s run-heavy philosophy, Brown might see a limited amount of targets.
That said, Brown won’t need many targets to be successful. As previously established, the rookie is a ridiculously gifted playmaker who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He’s going to lead the Ravens in targets, and his dangerous playmaking ability means he’ll have more than enough opportunities to be fantasy relevant.
The Rookie Wall
Brown has the talent and opportunity to thrive in fantasy football, but he’s going to be battling history. Rookie wide receivers have a notoriously difficult transition to the NFL and typically aren’t reliable fantasy weapons. According to Pro Football Reference, only five rookies since 2014 have recorded over 1,000 yards in a season: Odell Beckham, Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, and Kelvin Benjamin. Outside of Benjamin, each of these players has flashed the ability to be among the best at their position.
Brown has the talent to match this production, but history isn’t on his side. Even the best rookie receivers struggle with consistency, so there’s always going to be some risk inserting him into your lineup. That said, the talent is there and he’s going to have his fair share of opportunities. You should definitely put in a claim for his services, but don’t use him as anything more than a flex play until he proves he can be a consistent, reliable starter.
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