What to Expect from Amon-Ra St. Brown in 2021

May 10, 2021
What to Expect from Amon-Ra St. Brown in 2021

Writing about the fantasy impact of a wideout taken on Day 3 of the NFL Draft is not exactly the norm, however, the Detroit Lions’ fourth-round selection of Amon-Ra St. Brown at pick 112 could have significance for the 2021 season.

St. Brown walks into arguably the worst receiving room in the league, led by a new quarterback and a mostly fresh coaching staff. There appears to be a path to fantasy relevance for the rookie WR, so let’s explore it.

All in the Family

St. Brown comes from hyper-athletic lineage. His dad was a two-time Mr. Universe and three-time Mr. World and produced three pass-catching sons, one who’s currently a member of the Green Bay Packers (Equinemous), the other a Stanford wideout (Osiris).

While at USC for three seasons, St. Brown posted 2,270 yards and 16 touchdowns on 178 receptions. As a true freshman, he led the Trojans in catches and finished second behind Michael Pittman Jr. in receiving yards. Despite a shortened six-game campaign in 2020 due to the pandemic, he still managed to find the end zone seven times.

The receiver’s usage in college was a mixed bag including jet sweeps, WR screens and routes of varying distances. St. Brown showed the versatility to play both wide and in the slot, but projects to slide into the slot as a starter immediately in his rookie season.

Motor-City Opportunity

After the yard sale Detroit held during the offseason, trading Matthew Stafford to the Rams and letting both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones head to other teams, the Lions offense certainly has a new look heading into 2021. This team boasts the highest number of vacated targets in the NFL (21.9 per game), with 58.5% of last year’s targets thrown to players no longer in Detroit.

During free agency, the new regime brought in Tyrell Williams, Breshard Perriman and Kalif Raymond, three wideouts with very little experience in the slot. Oh, and former Detroit slot-man Danny Amendola is also currently unsigned, leaving that spot free and available which bodes well for St. Brown’s immediate fantasy relevancy.

Goff’s Gonna Lose his Mind in Detroit Slot City - (It’s a KISS reference for you young folks)

LA and Detroit swapped QBs this offseason, bringing Jared Goff to the midwest to quarterback the Lions in 2021. Goff has not only supported a slot guy before, but he elevated Cooper Kupp’s game with a high volume of work while with the Rams. Check out Kupp’s usage and output over the past two seasons from the slot with Goff at the helm.

Cooper Kupp Slot Volume, 2019-2020
Year Slot Target Rank Slot Targets Slot Receiving Yards Rank Slot Receiving Yards
2020 5th 75 5th 591
2019 2nd 99 1st 853

New Beginnings

Not only are Goff and St. Brown new, but most of the offensive weapons are first-time Lions with the exception of D'Andre Swift, Quintez Cephus and T.J. Hockenson. They will be coached by a fresh staff as well, with Dan Campbell in his first year as Detroit’s head coach and Anthony Lynn as their new offensive coordinator, along with the rookie campaign of former NFL WR Antwaan Randle El as the Lions’ receivers coach.

They’re all thrown into this offense together so it’s not like St. Brown will have this crazy disadvantage of learning a new offense with all the parts already in place. Sure, he’ll have to get used to the NFL’s speed and physicality, but everyone will need to create chemistry together.

What Does it Mean for Fantasy?

While his path to volume is pretty clear of branches, debris and other players, let’s not get too overly excited about St. Brown’s potential in 2021. His slot work could make him promptly relevant in full-PPR redraft and best ball leagues, and in half-PPR formats like Underdog, the rookie makes for a great late-round target. His ADP is currently in the 15th round at 174.7 and could easily climb if the 21-year old becomes a training camp darling.

St. Brown may go undrafted in many home seasonal leagues, so be sure to keep him in mind as a final-round stab because he may end up as a coveted waiver wire add at some point in the season.

Bottom Line

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown ended up in arguably the best possible location for a receiver who projects to man the slot.
  • He’ll be catching passes from new Detroit QB Jared Goff, a player who targeted Cooper Kupp at the fifth and second-highest rate in the slot, respectively, over the past two seasons.
  • Consider Amon-Ra St. Brown a WR5/6 with plenty of upside heading into the 2021 season. His 15th-round Underdog ADP presents possible value if the rookie emerges as a legit weapon in this new-look offense.
  • Many in seasonal leagues may pass on St. Brown due to the perception of a depleted Lions’ offense, making him most likely available as a late-round flier or one to keep an eye on for waiver-wire scooping.
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