When the Oakland Raiders traded for Antonio Brown in March, it was with the obvious intent to have him be the focal point of their passing game. But the 2019 season hasn't even kicked off yet, and that plan has gone off the rails in a very Oakland Raiders' fashion.
First there was his bizarre foot issue, reportedly suffering from frostbite after undergoing cryotherapy. Reports quickly followed that he had stopped communicating with the team.
Then the news got even stranger on Friday.
The chances he actually retires because of the helmet issue still seem slim, but at this point it does seem like there's a very real chance that the Raiders aren't going to get 16 games out of "Mr. Big Chest". After trading Amari Cooper last season and losing all of Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts and Jared Cook, Brown's absence should leave a massive amount of volume available in Oakland.
Those four saw a combined 284 targets in Oakland in 2018, which accounted for over 50 percent of the team's total. Brown missing time would likely thrust newly-signed Tyrell Williams into the top WR role in the offense.
It's been a couple years since Williams has been much more than a complimentary piece in the Los Angeles Chargers' offense, but he thrived with the looks he did get. He turned 253 targets into 153 receptions, 2,440 yards and 16 touchdowns over the last three years. That gives him the fourth-most yards per target (9.6) among all players with at least 250 targets in that time, trailing only Brandin Cooks, Tyreek Hill and Julio Jones. His efficiency could take a hit with defenses not having to key on other receivers, but an up-tick in volume should more than make up for that, especially with his average draft position (ADP) sitting at only WR50.
The rest of the options are far more speculative, but they're also essentially free in fantasy football drafts, not even registering an ADP at this point.
Fifth-round rookie Hunter Renfrow has the potential to start in the slot, and he was highly efficient in that role in college with the Clemson Tigers. If you're playing in a PPR league, he becomes especially intriguing.
Marcell Ateman is the other interesting piece. He only played seven games as a rookie in 2018, but he racked up 31 targets in that sample size, and that's the second-most for any returning Raiders' player this year. Ateman averaged a huge 19.6 yards per reception in his senior year with Oklahoma State, and the 6-foot-5 deep threat would likely be the top choice to start on the outside opposite Williams.
Keep a close eye on the Brown situation, because if AB does play then neither Renfrow or Ateman are likely to be worth drafting. If he misses any time though, all three of these guys could prove to be steals.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.