Very Deep Sleeper: Jaron Brown (Fantasy Football)
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You do realize we live in a fantasy world where Jaron Brown is going to start for Arizona this year, right? That may not evoke much excitement for your fantasy heart, but let me see what I can do about that.
I’m going to begin by presenting the Jaron Brown talent case and then walk through the golden opportunity he is about to have.
Jaron Brown got lost in the shuffle of the 2013 NFL Draft. He was overshadowed in college by Clemson teammates DeAndre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant, Sammy Watkins, Dwayne Allen, Andre Ellington, and Adam Humphries – all successful NFL players. Brown’s best college season was 2011 – 31 catches for 406 yards and four TDs in 14 games (third-best receiving stats on the team behind Watkins-Allen).
Most all of those Clemson teammates went on to be deemed top NFL Draft prospects, while Brown was not even invited to the NFL Combine. At his Pro Day, Brown checked in at 6′2″/204 and semi-shocked people with a high-end 4.40 40-time and an impressive 6.82 three-cone time, but it wasn’t enough. Brown went undrafted and was invited to tryout at Arizona Cardinals’ camp.
*Note – Jaron may not have lit up the college box scores, but he was excelling at other things at Clemson – he was a four-time ACC Academic Honor Roll and a first-team Academic All-District in his senior year as well as being named a permanent team co-captain as a senior.
When I saw Brown work in his first couple preseasons I was hooked. He has a starting NFL wide receiver’s body and athleticism with terrific hands and is willing to make the tough catches. He always impressed me and others with his preseason work. I couldn’t understand why Arizona drafted John Brown in 2014, nor why they didn’t give Jaron the starting role over John during the preseason because Jaron was such a quality performer.
Jaron Brown went from UDFA rookie long shot to making the Arizona roster and playing all 16 games his rookie/2013 season and seeing some targets in games. He started a few games the following season, but was more a backup and still, surprisingly, a backup in 2015. It looked like Jaron was about to usurp Michael Floyd from existence in 2016 midseason, but once Jaron got hold of the job he tore his ACL soon after and was lost for the remainder of the season.
Jaron Brown has been knocking on the door for a few years now. 2017 might be the time the door is finally opened for him.
Larry Fitzgerald and J.J. Nelson are the set starters. John Brown is usually thought of as a starter, but it seems like John is about to wear out his welcome…constantly hurt and dropping too many passes. He may not even be active or on the team Week 1.
High rookie draft pick WR Chad Williams is not ready, and the team is already having some buyer’s remorse there.
There’s a reason why Bruce Arians proclaimed Jaron Brown his No. 2 wide receiver a few weeks ago.
In Week 2 of the preseason, Brown started alongside J.J. Nelson (Fitzgerald sitting). Jaron Brown as a full-fledged starter is upon us.
What can you expect from Jaron Brown as a starter? Imagine if Michael Floyd was as good as people thought he was…that’s Jaron Brown. Jaron is like a slightly smaller version of Larry Fitzgerald – great hands, smart routes, dependable, tough. Most defenses will key on David Johnson this season. Most coverage will be worried about Larry Fitzgerald. DBs will have to account for the 4.2+ speedster J.J. Nelson going deep. Arizona rarely uses the tight end in the passing game. So, there may be a perfect open lane for lesser-known Jaron Brown to drive through as fast as he’d like. He may be a secret weapon defenses don’t worry about as much.
If Michael Floyd was a WR2-3 producer in this offense at times, what would a better Michael Floyd (Jaron) accomplish?
…that’s the opportunity with Jaron Brown in 2017.
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