Amon-Ra St. Brown looking to join the league's elite in Year 3
Last season, Amon-Ra St. Brown hauled in 106 passes for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns for a Detroit Lions team that unexpectedly went 9-8 on the year. St. Brown was a huge part of the reason the Lions made a sizable leap from 2021 to 2022, as he was quarterback Jared Goff’s go-to weapon in an offense that averaged 26.6 points per game (fifth most in the league). Despite that, DraftKings Sportsbook set St. Brown’s receiving yard total at 1050.5 for this season. And I think that number is too low.
The Lions did use the 12th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who is electric as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The pick came as a surprise to many, but Detroit clearly has big plans for him — and it isn’t hard to see how he’ll fit in offensive coordinator Ben Johnson’s offense. But Gibbs’ presence isn’t enough for St. Brown’s production to fall off a cliff. Especially with DJ Chark Jr. and his 4.7 targets per game out the door, and second-year wideout Jameson Williams suspended six games for violating the league’s gambling policy.
There just isn’t anything out there that suggests any sort of third-year dip from St. Brown. The former USC star averaged 9.1 targets per game in 2022, which was a top-10 mark in the NFL. And only 11 players in the league had a higher target share than St. Brown last season, which goes to show that he’s as big a part of his team’s offense as any wideout in the league. And those numbers match the eye test, as it genuinely seems like every passing play starts with Goff looking in St. Brown’s direction.
St. Brown is also a player that badly wants to improve. We saw on Hard Knocks last season that he has a tremendous work ethic, and his father, a bodybuilder in the 80’s, has him living in the gym. With that in mind, I don’t see why the first instinct is to expect him to fall short of last year’s numbers. St. Brown is already one of the league’s best route runners, and he has a great feel for finding holes in the defense. And if that isn’t enough, he has a very reliable set of hands and can gain yards in bunches after the catch. Simply put, St. Brown is a star in the making and should find a way to exceed expectations with two years of experience under his belt.
It also doesn’t hurt that St. Brown has said himself that he can be counted on to put up big numbers this season. Speaking on Barstool’s Pardon My Take podcast, St. Brown had the following to say when talking about why fantasy football players should select him:
“I’m gonna be honest. I haven’t had that many bad games in my career.” He also noted that he gets “targeted a lot.”
Of course, fantasy and betting aren’t the same, but you can apply similar logic to player props over the course of a season. St. Brown knows how important he is to Detroit’s offense, and he’s so confident that his role will remain unchanged that he’s speaking on it publicly. That said, I think the only concern with St. Brown is whether he can stay healthy enough to rack up this many yards. But that’s not something you should worry about with him.
It can sometimes feel like betting on season-long player props is a bet on a player’s health, and there’s no denying that staying healthy is imperative for Overs to hit. Very few players can help bettors cash if they’re only playing half the year. But this total feels low enough for St. Brown to hit in 14 or 15 games, which is part of the reason I like it so much. It’s nice knowing that he can get a little banged up and still potentially go Over the number. And St. Brown has missed only one game since entering the league.
In 2021, St. Brown averaged only 53.6 receiving yards per game over 17 games. But he raised that number significantly in 2022, averaging 72.6 receiving yards per game in 16 games. I'm not expecting another increase of 20 or so yards in 2023, but I do think it's likely that St. Brown will average close to 80.0 yards per game this season — and that projection feels like it's on the safer side with the Lions having a relatively easy strength of schedule. If he does make that slight improvement, he'd probably need to play in only 13 games to hit the Over on this mark.
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