The Detroit Lions selected St. Brown in the 4th round with the 112th pick overall in this past draft out of Southern California. Brown had a solid run during his career in Southern California. His best season came in 2019 when he recorded 77 receptions for 1042 yards and 6 touchdowns and added 60 more rush yards and another score on the ground. That career year was sandwiched between a 750 yard, 3 touchdown freshman year and a 478 yard, 7 touchdown season last year. Had the COVID 19 pandemic not wiped out parts of the season, his numbers last in 2020 could have been even better.
Now he looks to take his game to the next level in the motor city for a Lions team that has endured a drastic offseason makeover. Gone is longtime franchise QB Matthew Stafford and in his place is former Rams starter, Jared Goff. He will also have a new head coach in the energetic and lively Dan Campbell who looks to usher in a new era of the tough, hard-nosed (and maybe carnivorous?) brand of football. St. Brown, while a 4th round draft pick, will have every opportunity to contribute meaningful snaps and ascend to the top of the depth chart in a Lions passing attack that is unknown, to say the least.
The Lions receiving corp is youthful and wildly inexperienced now that Kenny Golladay is gone. Seriously, no one has probably heard of these players: Victor Bolden Jr., Damion Ratley, Quintez Cephus, Tom Kennedy, Kalif Raymond. These are just some of the players that fill out the Lions roster as of now. Then there are veterans like Breshad Perriman and Geronimo Allison but are they a threat? Perriman is on what, his fifth different team in four years? Geronimo Allison is only fantasy-relevant when Aaron Rodgers wanted him to be.
The only sure bet for fantasy production from this passing attack is pro-bowler T.J. Hockenson. Thus, the door is open for Amon-Ra St. Brown to have an immediate impact on the Lions. I do not recommend Jared Goff as a starting fantasy quarterback for this year. His weapons have downgraded significantly from Los Angeles to Detroit and so consequently he will at best be a matchup-based, bye week fill-in this year. However, St. Brown’s build and attributes remind me of one of Goff’s former teammates in LA: Robert Woods who (surprise!) also played his college ball at USC. Woods and St. Brown both check-in at 6’1, 195 lbs and both are especially proficient in the mid-range, intermediate aspect of playing wideout.
Woods thrived playing in various parts of the offense as well as the slot and had his best production with Goff as his quarterback (89 receptions, 1100 yard avg. between 2018-2020). The Rams also used Woods as the man in motion, getting him the ball on reverses, screens, and end-around plays which often found success. Wood averaged 7 YPC over the last three years and has at least 1 touchdown in each year. Woods’ profile compares similarly with St. Brown so I would conclude that the Lions look to utilize him in ways similar to what was done with Woods in LA.
St. Brown was selected in the middle rounds of this years’ draft but that does not mean that he will be a lackey to the other “veterans” in Detroit. In a previous article, I have him projected as the 14th ranked rookie to keep an eye on this year. Just to be clear though, T.J. Hockenson will lead the passing attack, and second-year back D’Andre Swift and Green Bay Packer import Jamaal Williams will be involved in the passing game as well. After that targets will be up for grabs (pun intended). St. Brown likely will not be selected in standard 10 and 12 team leagues but he could be counted on to contribute as the season wears on. A savvy owner with an eye on 2-3 years down the line would be wise to take him in a dynasty league.
REDRAFT ROUND: UNDRAFTED (in standard size leagues)
2021 Projections: 45-55 receptions, 600-700 yards, 4-6 Touchdowns