Let’s take a look at the Steelers Top 4 receivers thus far in 2011:
- Mike Wallace – 43 receptions for 800 yards and 5 TD (57 targets)
- Antonio Brown – 34 receptions for 431 yards and 1 TD (63 targets)
- Hines Ward – 26 receptions for 258 yards and 2 TD (39 targets)
- Emmanuel Sanders – 18 receptions for 243 yards and 2 TD (35 targets)
The Professor’s Take:
At 35-years old, everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before Ward was passed on the depth chart by both Brown and Sanders. However, I’m not sure anyone would’ve predicted that Brown would be the team’s most targeted receiver through eight weeks. Over the past two weeks he has really put his potential on display with 16 receptions for 169 yards and 1 TD (being targeted 24 times).
You don’t have 24 more targets than someone due to a one week absence (Ward missed last week’s game). Brown is emerging as the possession receiver in Pittsburgh and is a perfect compliment to Wallace’s deep threat. At this point, while Brown is still not a must use player due to the other options the team has, he’s established himself as a viable WR3.
As for Ward, his days as a fantasy option seem to be dwindling. He’s only eclipsed 50 yards twice this season and both of his TD came in one game. With the three receiver set of Wallace/Brown/Sanders looking explosive, even when healthy Ward could quickly become an afterthought. Fantasy owners should be moving on at this point.
Sanders is sort of in flux at the moment. He has not been as targeted as Brown, which should give a little bit of pause in putting him in active lineups. If you are in deeper formats he is well worth stashing on your bench, if you have the room. It may not be long before he entrenches himself as a viable option.
Of course, today’s tweet from Scott Brown saying, “Sanders has to get knee examined” could easily change things. If Sanders is forced to miss time Brown would become a potentially good play in most formats (depending on your other options). Ward, however, would probably remain an afterthought.