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Eagles Clash - A.J. Brown vs. DeVonta Smith for 2024 Fantasy Football

DeVonta Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have now played together in Philadelphia for two full seasons. The only major difference was at offensive coordinator. In 2022, it was Shane Steichen, while in 2023, it was Brian Johnson. In 2024, it’ll be Kellen Moore. 

Brown was a second-round pick back in 2019, while Smith was a first-rounder back in 2021. Both guys have turned out to be elite, and there’s no argument to be made otherwise. The question then becomes, which receiver should you draft in 2024 fantasy football? In this article, we’ll dive into the data to help answer that question. 

We’ll look at the head-to-head statistics over the last two seasons to make an educated decision about which receiver to draft in 2024. Maybe it’s Brown, maybe it’s Smith, or maybe it’s both Brown and Smith. Let’s have a look.

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Note: all metrics are courtesy of PlayerProfiler.

Head-to-Head Statistics

2022

Player Games Target Share Target Rate Receptions Per Game Receiving Yards Per Game Touchdown Rate Yards Per Route Run Yards Per Target Fantasy Points Per Game
A. Brown 17 29.0% 29.4% 5.2 88.0 12.5% 3.01 10.2 17.6
D. Smith 17 27.0% 26.2% 5.6 70.4 7.4% 2.30 8.8 15.0

The 2022 season was Brown’s first in Philadelphia and Smith’s second. Both played 17 games and both finished as WR1s in fantasy football. Brown averaged 17.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) and Smith averaged 15 FPPG. However, their target share and target rate were separated by just a few percentage points. 

The biggest differences between the two in 2022 were air yards, average depth of target (aDoT), and yards per route run (YPRR). Brown was fourth among all receivers in air yards (1,772) and second in YPRR at 3.01. His aDoT was 12.1 compared to Smith, who had an aDoT of just 9.9. Smith’s routes were being run closer to the line of scrimmage in 2022. That led to fewer air yards (1,345) and a lower YPRR (2.30) compared to Brown. 

Ultimately, that led to fewer receiving yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points per game for Smith despite having more receptions than Brown.

2023

Player Games Target Share Target Rate Receptions Per Game Receiving Yards Per Game Touchdown Rate Yards Per Route Run Yards Per Target Fantasy Points Per Game
A. Brown 17 30.1% 28.1% 6.2 85.6 6.6% 2.59 9.2 17.0
D. Smith 16 22.8% 19.2% 5.1 66.6 8.6% 1.83 9.5 14.2

2023 was a bit of a different story for Brown and Smith. The gap in target share and target rate was much greater. For the first time in his career, Brown topped a 30% target share. His 153 targets (9.3 per game) was also a career high. His YPRR and touchdown rate were both down a bit from 2022. So, despite the career high in receptions (106), Brown averaged slightly less FPPG in 2023 than he did in 2022.

Smith, on the other hand, saw his target share and target rate hit new career lows in 2023. His YPRR fell significantly to 1.83 (from 2.30 in 2022). That could have been a result of a career high in slot snaps (24.9%). Brown also played 24.9% of his snaps from the slot, but he’s a different player than Smith. He’s a bit more explosive and has the ability to rack up some more yards after the catch (YAC) than Smith. 

With his lower opportunity and efficiency metrics, Smith averaged just 66.6 receiving yards per game and 14.2 FPPG last season. That was good for WR19 for the season.

Where are Brown and Smith Being Drafted?

Brown is currently a late first-rounder with an Underdog average draft position (ADP) of 10.6. He’s being drafted as the seventh wide receiver just behind Amon-Ra St. Brown and Puka Nacua. That makes sense given he’s finished inside the top-six receivers each of the last two seasons and has yet to miss a game for the Eagles.

Smith, on the other hand, is currently a late second/early third-rounder with an Underdog ADP of 35.6. He’s being drafted as the 23rd wide receiver off the board behind Michael Pittman Jr. and DK Metcalf. Even in what was probably a “down” season for Smith in 2023, he still managed to finish as the WR19. As such, his WR23 price tag looks pretty good right now. It looks even better when you consider he’s just two years removed from being a top-10 WR. 

 

2024 Outlook

While the personnel hasn’t changed much year-over-year, Kellen Moore enters the picture in 2024. That could lead to some changes offensively, but that shouldn’t be a bad thing. If anything, that should mean an improvement. Brown has been consistent in his time in Philadelphia. He’s a YAC monster with big play ability that scores touchdowns. He’s as safe a bet as you could make in fantasy football at the wide receiver position in 2024.

Now, let’s talk about Smith’s outlook. The Eagles just gave him a very nice contract extension that locks him in through the 2028 season. People say contract years bring out the best in people, but I think getting paid makes guys want to prove they’re worthy of the contract they just received.

Despite missing a game in 2023, Smith finished as the WR19. That was with a target share of just 22.8%. Currently, he’s priced as the WR23. It’s hard to imagine him falling below a 22.8% target share, so it appears there’s a lot of upside here for the Eagles WR2. 

If you’re looking for safety, take A.J. Brown at the back end of the first round or the front end of the second round. If you’re looking for upside, DeVonta Smith is your answer. Because of their price points, it’s absolutely feasible to roster both guys. I wouldn’t be opposed to that if that’s the way the draft goes. The target tree is extremely consolidated in Philadelphia much like it is in Miami with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.



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