The first major shock of draft weekend occurred midway through Round 1 on Thursday night when the Ravens traded speedy wide receiver Marquise Brown to the Cardinals. Brown adds a vertical component to the Cardinals’ offense that was missing after the Jaguars broke the bank to sign Christian Kirk. On the Baltimore side of things, this clears the way for Rashod Bateman to break out in his second season in the pros. Let’s take a look at how ETR’s projections changed as a result of the Brown trade.
Old projection: 65.9 catches on 107.0 targets for 922.5 yards and 5.9 touchdowns. WR27 on Underdog (56th overall).
New projection: 62.8 catches on 101.2 targets for 782.3 yards and 5.7 touchdowns. WR35 on Underdog (68th overall).
- Brown should immediately assume WR2 duties for the Cardinals, but he now has to compete with DeAndre Hopkins, Zach Ertz, Rondale Moore, and more in Arizona. The Cardinals are a higher-volume passing attack than the Ravens — who we expect to get back to their roots as a run-heavy team after finishing ninth in team pass attempts in 2021 — but Brown’s target share drops in our projections from 19.6% in Baltimore to 17.2% with the Cardinals. Simply put, there’s a lot more competition for looks in the desert, and Brown’s fantasy value falls as a result.
- With that being said, he emerged as a legitimate WR1 in 2021, pacing the Ravens in targets per game with 9.1. We are playing it slightly conservatively given the team change, but Hollywood should still be a strong contributor in fantasy with the Cardinals. Kyler Murray was among the best deep-ball throwers in football last year, which meshes perfectly with Brown’s field-stretching ability.
- I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the #ShowerNarrative of Brown teaming up with his college quarterback.
OTHER CARDINALS PLAYERS
- Brown played the majority of his snaps on the outside last season, indicating that A.J. Green could be the biggest loser of this trade. Hollywood should get many of the vertical targets that Kirk saw during his Arizona tenure, although Kirk worked primarily out of the slot. Green fell from WR90 in our rankings to WR102, and he’s nothing more than a final-round dart throw at this point. He’ll be 34 years old in July and will see decreased snaps now that Brown is expected to take over the second outside receiver role.
- We also decreased Moore’s target share with Hollywood in town. Although the Purdue product will mainly man the slot, he may see fewer snaps now that the Cardinals have another competent receiver, plus Brown and Hopkins offer elite target competition. Moore is unproven as anything more than a gadget player at the NFL level, and his path to a Year 2 breakout got much cloudier with Brown in the picture. He dropped from WR44 to WR55 in our rankings.
- Before last season, Hopkins was typically a near-30% target share player. In 2021, that number plummeted to 20%. The previous lack of target competition offered hope that Hopkins could return to his old form, but the arrival of Brown is a thorn in the side of an age-30 resurgence. Hopkins takes a small hit following the Brown trade.
Old projection: 55.9 catches on 86.6 targets for 665.2 yards and 4.3 touchdowns. WR47 on Underdog (100th overall).
New projection: 68.7 catches on 106.5 targets for 858.4 yards and 5.3 touchdowns. WR32 on Underdog (63rd overall).
- We are currently baking in the risk of them adding another major contributor — Devin Duvernay can’t be their WR2, right? — and Bateman still comes out as the WR32 in our rankings. A first-round pick with a sterling production profile at Minnesota, many analysts regarded Bateman as the second-best wideout in the 2021 draft after Ja’Marr Chase. Injuries (both his own injury and Lamar Jackson‘s) prevented a Year 1 breakout, but he’ll have every opportunity to seize a major target share in his second professional season with Brown now in the desert. Bateman emerged as an every-snap player for the Ravens over the final month of his rookie campaign, and he will look to carry over that momentum into a bonafide breakout in 2022.
- Bateman nearly broke out as a true freshman in college, posting a 28% Dominator Rating, just shy of the 30% threshold needed to count as a breakout. He then got there officially as a sophomore with a 36% mark before posting a gaudy 48% number across five games as a junior. Pair that with first-round draft capital and it’s easy to see why Bateman has a lot of fans in the fantasy community. Now that he has a clear path to a WR1-level target share — albeit in a low-volume passing offense — Bateman falls into WR3 territory with a sky-high ceiling.
OTHER RAVENS PLAYERS
- Mark Andrews broke Travis Kelce‘s five-year streak atop the tight end position last season, and he could repeat that feat next year with Brown gone. We have Andrews leading the Ravens with an enormous 22.3% target share. Considering he’s always been a highly efficient player, the stars are aligning for another massive Andrews season.