Forgot About Dre: What's Next for Andre Brown?
It's November 1999. The world is in full blown panic over the Y2K virus, or the impending apocalypse. On November 16, 1999, however, everything changed. Darkness was driven back from whence it came, as Chronic 2001, Dr. Dre's first album in seven years, finally hit the streets and gave the people what they so desperately needed: a hip hop icon was back along with his thumping beats and star-studded guest list. Perhaps no song on the Chronic 2001 summarized Dr. Dre's feelings towards the rap game quite like "Forgot About Dre" - wherein the good Doctor eviscerates those who had determined Dre has "gone pop".
Dre was back, and now everyone was on notice.
Fast forward exactly 14 years later, November 2013, and the New York Giants football world has a similarly bleak outlook on the season. An 0-6 start was compounded by intense ineptitude on the ground. A team with Super Bowl aspirations, the Giants fanbase was wondering if they might even win a game.
Entering the bye week at a meager 2-6, the run game's prospects were only made bleaker when fantasy darling David Wilson hit the IR, ending his tumultuous season. But, from the ashes, emerged a new Dre: Andre Brown was making his return from injury.
Though Brown had been drafted in most leagues, his fractured leg quickly had owners bailing on him, particularly with the prospects of David Wilson being able to have a full load week-to-week for 10 weeks. Even with the return from injury and no real threat to carries, there was at least still some pervasive feeling that the Giants would be unable to run the ball on a consistent basis. Brown proceeded to drop his version of Forgot About Dre against the Raiders, exploding back onto the fantasy scene, and all of a sudden making the Giants a somewhat viable rushing team.
Y'All Know Me, Still Same Old G
Though his opportunities were limited last year, Brown was extremely effective with the caries he had. Amongst running backs with at least 70 carries, Brown finished second in success rate, only trailing Kendall Hunter. This tells us that Brown was more consistent with each run than all but one running back in the entire league.
Additionally, Brown finished with the fourth-highest Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) last year, trailing only Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spiller, and Marshawn Lynch. Again, sample size is limited, but at the very least, Brown has used the opportunity he has been granted extremely effectively. There are probably a variety of compounding issues that lead to the extremely high metrics (e.g. teams not planning around the run when he was in, using him in situations with high likelihood to succeed, etc.), but I would not be so quick to dismiss numbers this out of hand.
The fact of the matter is, when Brown has been given the opportunity to run, Brown has been effective running the ball. And ultimately, as a fantasy owner, that's all that matters. We know Dre, and if he's even close to the same old G he was in 2012, with the opportunity to run coming in spades for Brown, he should be an extremely viable start moving forward. Brown has been nothing but effective for the Giants, and, to be honest, they really have nobody else that really jumps out as someone that is going to steal touches. He's the guy moving forward - his 30 rushes last week against Oakland is not a simple anomaly.
Did Y'All Think Imma Let My Dough Freeze?
Talent is all well and good, and we know Brown has it in spades. He also showed up against Oakland, as the Giants moved from the worst Rushing NEP team after Week 9 to leap frog two teams after Week 10, essentially all on Brown's legs. However, as fantasy owners, we have to care not about past performance, but rather whether or not Andre Brown will be able to get his label off, add to his wall full of plaques, and continue to perform at a high level as fall turns to winter. Matchups are going to play a huge role in determining who to start and when, as owners might be scrambling due to injury and desperately needing a win to secure playoff position.
This is where Brown gets interesting. Coming up, Dre has Green Bay, Dallas, Washington, San Diego, Seattle, and Detroit. Those teams rank 17th, 26th, 25th, 32nd, 12th, and 4th in Adjusted Rushing NEP - a metric that looks at a defense's ability to stop the run, adjusted by strength of schedule.
That's four consecutive bottom-half teams heading into and including the first week of the playoffs. You would have to get to your fantasy finals in Week 16 before ever playing a team that provided an even remotely scary matchup for Brown. Seattle is somewhat colloquially scary, but I think that's due much more to reputation than anything else, as the numbers bear out that Seattle is an average rushing defense paired with an exceptional passing defense.
At the end of the day, Brown is going to have nice matchups week after week.
Who's the Doctor They Told You to Go See?
In case you haven't gotten it yet, Brown is a must add in all formats moving forward. Running back has been a wasteland in a lot of ways this year, and coming down the home stretch, it appears that Brown is a guy that is going to make or break a lot of teams.
That said, Brown is probably owned in your league if anyone is paying attention. If someone in your league owns Brown, I would throw an offer for him, but my guess is whomever was high enough on Brown to pick him up before last week only feels more strongly about it now. The trade market is more than likely a bit high for him, but like always, it really depends on your depth at other positions and what you could afford to part with.
Given his upcoming schedule and performance thus far, he's at least worthwhile to try and get.