Antonio


Bold Predictions – Record Breaking Receiver


By Jay Stoltenburg, DFW Writer 

// DFW / REDRAFT 2016 SERIES

Now that Calvin Johnson has retired, it’s time to talk about another Wide Receiver in the NFL that has set the league on fire with his ability to catch the ball.

It’s not so much a bold prediction to say that Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is destined for a huge season but I am one-upping that prediction and saying that he will break Brandon Marshall’s single-game reception record of 21 and goes on to be the first Wide Receiver to eclipse 2000 yards receiving in a single season and will be a strong candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player at seasons’ end which, if he should win, would make him the first WR to win the league’s MVP award.

So now that I shared the rest of my prediction, I must ask……is that BOLD enough?  I am not just going to give you an MVP recipe with the ingredients but no directions so let me explain how I picture that final product.

AB #1

First and foremost, Antonio showed that he is every bit capable of meeting my predictions last year after exceeding 1800 yards in receptions and catching as many as 17 balls in a single game so why can’t he improve on those numbers this year? And all of that without his starting Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a quarter of the season.

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Antonio has not been prone to injury aside from a cheap shot by Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict in the playoffs last year resulting in a concussion and also in Adam “Pacman” Jones accusing Brown of faking the injury and questioning him if he didn’t play in the next game against the Denver Broncos which he did not and led to a quick apology by Pacman himself.

The whole point of this is that Antonio has a history of being healthy and on the field instead of watching from the sideline. This is something he will need to continue this year if he has a chance to meet my predictions which I believe he will.

The retirement of long-time Steelers Tight End Heath Miller and the year-long suspension of the promising third-year WR Martavis Bryant will only add to the number of astronomical number of targets Brown had last year (193) leaving Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey at WR and Ladarius Green and Jesse James at TE to compete for the remaining targets at the receiving position who had 195 combined last season. Running Backs LeVeon Bell and DeAngelo Williams did combine for another 73 targets last year as well but I do not believe that takes away much from the opportunities for Antonio.

Coming off a year in which they finished 21st in total defense, the Steelers lost many of their defensive players to free agency forcing them to spend their first three draft picks on defensive rookies this year. Lack of experience and rhythm on defense will only put more pressure on the Steelers offense to throw the ball more and put points on the board in order to keep up with their opponent.

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If Antonio Brown (and QB Ben Roethlisberger) can stay healthy for yet another full season, I can’t imagine my prediction(s) to be out of reach with the Steelers losing their #2 WR for the year and their #1 TE retiring and I believe that the return of LeVeon Bell will only open up more opportunities for Antonio Brown to pick apart the opponents defense as he has so efficiently done in the past.