Like it or not, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be heavily debated heading into the 2019 fantasy football season.

Which one will you take in fantasy football? According to, both players are ranked in similar tiers, with Brown ranked as the seventh wide receiver (20th overall) and Smith-Schuster as the eighth-ranked wide receiver (22nd overall).

We don’t know average draft position, so that will be telling, too. So who am I going with in my 2019 fantasy football rankings? It’s complicated, but I’d side with Smith-Schuster.

Antonio Brown may have some challenges in 2019. Flickr/ Ward

Here’s why:

Big Ben is still in Pittsburgh

Quarterbacks are a big reason why wide receivers succeed. Brown has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in recent years, thanks in at least some part to Ben Roethlisberger.

And while Roethlisberger is aging, he’s still a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. And with all the drama that occurred in Pittsburgh in 2018, something tells me that the Steelers are going to make a statement in 2019 with their passing game.

Smith-Schuster is a top target for the offense and Pittsburgh should still be an above-average offense.

Too many questions with Carr

I don’t know what to make out of Carr. He’s looking for like a quarterback who enjoys checking down, instead of airing out the ball, similar to Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger has very little fear when chucking the ball down the field, allowing Brown the opportunity to be highly targeted and effective.

Carr operates with a difference style. And his offensive line isn’t as good as Pittsburgh’s, so he won’t have as much time to drop back in the pocket and find Brown. The weapons aren’t as good in Oakland either, as evidenced by last year’s disappointing offensive showing by the Raiders.

At one point, Carr was a up-and-comer as a quarterback. But as evidenced by last year, he just doesn’t utilize his No. 1 receiver enough to justify such a high price in fantasy football.

Brown is better than Amari Cooper, but we all saw what happened with Cooper in the last two years in Oakland. After the trade, it appears much of that blame should be shouldered by Carr and the Raiders.

Smith-Schuster is ready

Smith-Schuster has shown the ability to be a No. 1 wide receiver. His target share increased at a solid level in 2018, going from 79 targets in 2017 to 166 in 2018. His receptions showed a healthy increase, too, going from 58 receptions in 2017 to 111 in 2018.

He’s been productive in his two seasons in the NFL, and has 14 total touchdowns in two seasons.

He’ll get an even bigger share of the targets and opportunities at production with Brown and Le’Veon Bell out of the picture. Meanwhile, Brown has not seen his production be out of this world like it was in 2014-15. And his yards per game has dipped below 90 in two of the last three seasons.

Brown is still a quality receiver, but I would say there’s more question marks surrounding Brown than Smith-Schuster. The Steelers will still be one of the better teams in the AFC, so Smith-Schuster should have plenty of opportunities at production.

It’s close, but I’d favor Smith-Schuster in the 2019 season.

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