If he hadn't missed Week 17 last season, Brown may have finished as fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver for the fifth consecutive season. Both a high-floor and high-ceiling asset, Brown has posted a minimum of 159 targets, 101 receptions, eight touchdowns and 11 end zone targets each of the past six seasons. The last season in which he didn't finish as a top-five fantasy wide receiver was 2012.
The 30-year-old receiver will, of course, step in as Derek Carr's clear top target in Oakland. The team assuredly is not done adding to its offense, but as the roster stands, Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, Marcell Ateman, Jalen Richard and Darren Waller are Brown's competition for targets. He won't have trouble pushing for a 30 percent target share (he was at 27 percent in 2018).
In fact, Brown's 2019 projection actually doesn't change much as he departs the juggernaut that is Pittsburgh's high-scoring offense. The targets should be similar -- Pittsburgh is more pass-oriented than Oakland, but Brown should see a larger target share in a lesser offense -- and his efficiency figures to be similar as he moves from Ben Roethlisberger to Carr at quarterback (more on this later).
The biggest change from 2018 will be in the touchdown department. Brown hit a career high with 15 scores last season, but he was already a good candidate for regression to the mean (9.6 OTD). In the five seasons prior, Brown averaged 10.4 scores per season (9.0 OTD). Brown benefited from the 2018 Steelers operating the league's pass-heaviest offense and setting a franchise record for offensive touchdowns (3.19 per game).
Oakland, meanwhile, ranked 28th in offensive scores last season (1.75 per game). Adding Brown will increase that number, but unless the team makes additional significant upgrades, the upturn will be no more than a half touchdown or so. Still, Brown will be a big part of the offense, including near the end zone, so he shouldn't have trouble pushing for nine to 11 touchdowns.
In all, Brown's value takes a slight hit, but he remains a top-end fantasy wide receiver and is best viewed as a solid WR1.
Antonio Brown 2019 projection: 161 targets, 102 receptions, 1,333 yards, 10 TD
Of course, this move is also great news for Carr, who quietly had one of his most efficient seasons in 2018 despite an extremely poor supporting cast. Granted, he was conservative (6.9 aDOT), but Carr posted career-best marks in completion percentage (69 percent), off-target rate (10.1 percent) and yards per attempt (7.3), while throwing only 10 interceptions (1.8 percent rate). The off-target rate was the best in the NFL. Crushing his fantasy production was a career low in touchdown passes (19) and career high in sacks (51) and fumbles (11).
Carr's "bounce-back" season came with the likes of Jared Cook, Nelson, Roberts, Richard and Ateman handling a large bulk of the targets. It's worth noting that Carr's YPA dropped from 7.7 with Amari Cooper during Weeks 1 through 6 to 7.1 the rest of the way. Adding Brown to replace Cooper sets Carr up with the opportunity for a big step forward. He's best viewed as a mid- to back-end QB2.
Derek Carr 2019 projection: 385 of 574 for 4,287 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
As for the Steelers, there's still a lot more to come this season, but the departure of Brown means a downtick for Roethlisberger (fringe QB1) and an uptick for JuJu Smith-Schuster (fringe top-five WR). Yes, Smith-Schuster's efficiency could dip with more defensive attention, but he will see a boost in target share, he'll still get plenty of run in the slot and, considering he's only 22 years old, it's possible we've yet to see his best work. Meanwhile, 2018 second-round pick James Washington underwhelmed as a rookie, but his breakout prospects are as bright as ever. He's still a risky bet, but he has WR2 upside and is worth trying to acquire in dynasty and keeper leagues.