Though you can definitely make the argument that the Patriots’ defensive numbers are a little skewed by the level of their competition the past two weeks, the fact remains that they have yet to allow an offensive touchdown in 2019. Point out the presence of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Luke Falk all you want, but that’s still mighty impressive. New England ranks first in the NFL in defensive DVOA, first in the NFL in opponent yards per game (199.0) and first in the NFL in opponent passing yards per attempt (4.5). Essentially, if there’s a single crack in this unit, it was not found by Pittsburgh, Miami or New York.
However, the case against John Brown isn’t completely external, as there’s also some internal regression that needs to take place. While most of Brown’s numbers have already tapered off after a massive Week 1 performance, his catch rate remains unstable. The wideout has hauled in a whopping 78.3% of his 23 targets through three games, a total that dwarfs his 50.2% reception rate from 2014-2018. It’s not as if Brown’s running a drastically different route tree, either. His 13.6-yard aDOT doesn’t quite live up to his marks from the past few seasons, but his 13.7 yards per catch is right in line with his career outputs. There’s also the matter of Josh Allen at quarterback. The sophomore has clearly improved his play, however, at the end of the day, he’s a QB with a 55.6 completion percentage over 15 games and one who connected on just 29 of his 91 throws of over 15 yards in 2018 (31.9%). Brown will not stay this efficient forever.
Fantasy Impact: Its commendable that Brown entered Week 4 tied for 13th in the league among wide receivers in receptions (18) and 16th in yards gained (246). Yet, his ability to be considered anything more than a FLEX option in the best of weeks is invalid. This Sunday’s opponent is not appealing. Having Stephon Gilmore - PFF’s No. 1 graded CB in 2018 - shadowing you is not ideal. I’d be looking elsewhere.