As you prepare your fantasy charts and big boards and which superstars to target, if you know you'll be in a spot where the best decision will be to grab a top-end wide receiver, it pays to not miss on that selection.
In 2014 I made sure that whenever I had a shot at a wide receiver to pick and I was fortunate to be the first person to tap into the group, I selected Antonio Brown in each of those leagues.
Man, did that pay off.
Brown was the sixth highest fantasy scoring receiever in 2013 but anyone who was watching the progression of his skills and rapport with Ben Roethlisberger going into the end of 2013 knew that Brown was in for a bigger season in 2014.
Last season he led all receivers in fantasy scoring with 251.9 points according to NFL standard scoring rules. The next closest player was Jordy Nelson, 22 points behind Brown. Brown's season is the 2nd best single season fantasy performance since Calvin Johnson's 2011 season when he scored 16 touchdowns and recorded 1681 yards.
Some might have thought that Brown's 2013 season was a fluke, but he did a great job dispelling those notions with his even better 2014 season. Now Brown is a recognized leader in the NFL with the most yards in the league over the past two seasons.
If you think that the emergence of Martavis Bryant and potentially Markus Wheaton will be a problem for Brown's numbers, think again. Brown's production did not waiver in the least when Bryant joined the Steelers roster in week 7 against the Houston Texans. His work ethic is unmatched and anyone who watches his talents can see he's the league's best route runner and has some of the best hands and feet of any wide receiver.
Before last season, some of the clues to Brown's inevitable fantasy explosion were in his work ethic and the efforts that anyone could see if they looked. Brown was often the last to leave the practice field, catching one-handed passes and perfecting his craft.
Another year of doing just that means another year of destroying NFL defenses. Only this time he will have a more established set of weapons along-side of him. Last season was Wheaton's first real opportunity to show what he had after his rookie season was marred with injuries, Bryant did not come on until late and the offensive line did not solidify until midseason.
Ben Roethlisberger will be sure to have the offense in a better place than it was in the early portion of the 2014 season with the players who are going to be there, and the biggest beneficiary of that should be you because you selected Antonio Brown in your fantasy draft.
Brown not only gets big numbers, but he also gets consistent numbers. His active 32 game (33 if you count the playoff game against Baltimore) streak of recording at least five catches for 50 yards is often brushed off by some, but should not be in the least, especially for fantasy owners.
If you're playing in a PPR (points per reception) league, this means that Brown not just averaged, but actually scored 10 points in every week he's played for the past two straight seasons. That alone is astounding and would make him an easy pick, but he also gets into the end zone and his lowest amount of yards in a game from 2014 was 74 against the New York Jets.
Before 2013 it could have been a reasonable argument to suggest that Brown's success might have been because teams were overlooking his talents, but not so last season. He often got either the top cornerback from the Steelers' opponents every week, was double covered, or both. Just ask Joe Haden, a cornerback who is consistently ranked among the NFL's elite; last season Brown averaged 117 yards per game against Haden and the Cleveland Browns. He has regularly made highlights with Haden in coverage, including his efforts in the 2013 Pro Bowl.
So just because Brown will have to go up against Vontae Davis, Joe Haden twice, Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Chris Harris Jr. does not mean that he is in trouble. No cornerback has been able to slow down Brown, his routes are too precise, he is too quick, and if the play breaks down his persistence to get open knows no bounds. He's a nightmare for any defense and will be sure to put up solid numbers every week.
At the end of the 2015 season there is a chance that Brown may get edged out for the top fantay producing wide receiver in the NFL, but he's the best bet to be that top producer. Factor in his big playmaker ability along with his consistency and the fact that he could be part of football's best three headed monster with Roethlisberger and Bell being top five candidates for their positions, you have a player that needs to be on your team.
Brown is my first pick at wide receiver and the only way anyone should pass on him is if a top running back is still on the board. He's guaranteed money.