Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs after a pass reception against Cleveland Browns defensive back Julian Posey (38) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Is Antonio Brown Better Than Dez Bryant?

Last week, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was ranked #25 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2014 list. Last year NFL Network ranked Bryant #35 on the list, behind six other receivers.

Bryant is ranked higher on this season’s list than at least three of the receivers who were higher than him last year; Brandon Marshall fell from #27 to #36 and Larry Fitzgerald fell from #22 to #38. Reggie Wayne was ranked #21 last year, but does not figure to make the list this year since he was injured most of last season.

Though Bryant did move up ten spots from last year’s ranking, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown ranked #23 after failing to make the list in 2013. Did Brown’s performance last season warrant such a high jump in the NFL Network’s popular and hotly contested list?

2013 Statistics
Dez Bryant
Antonio Brown
Games Started1614
Yards Per Reception13.313.6

While Antonio Brown does indeed come out ahead of Dez Bryant in three of the five categories, it could be argued that Bryant leads in the most important categories.

Receptions and yardage can be considered arbitrary at times, especially if a team trails its opponent or relies heavily on their passing game.

Starting every game and catching more touchdowns, however, could be considered more important. The Cowboys know better than most teams that a player cannot be a factor if he is not on the field. Similarly, touchdown receptions usually contribute more to a team’s overall goal of winning than receptions and yardage.

Brown may have led Bryant in several receiving categories in 2013, but Bryant leads by a wide margin in overall production since 2010.

Statistics Since 2010
Dez Bryant
Antonio Brown
Games Started4527
Yards Per Reception14.013.6

Antonio Brown may very well have been slightly more productive in several categories than Dez Bryant in 2013, thus determining his higher ranking on the top 100 list. However, in terms of production over the course of both players’ careers, it is a no-brainer. Bryant is the more impactful receiver.

If you had a choice between Dez Bryant or Antonio Brown, who would you choose?

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  • Craig

    It’s difficult to look at their overall careers and make the type of comparisons you are making. For one thing, the two teams are completely different in how the offense works. Dallas is a pass heavy team, where traditionally, the Steelers have been run first to set up the pass. That changed when Todd Haley came in, which is why there is a change in Brown’s stats last season when the offense began to settle into that new scheme.

    Secondly, you have to look at the roles these two played on their teams up to this point. Bryant has always been just a receiver and target for Romo since 2011 and only having very little of a role in the return game. Bryant became the big dog early. Brown was a major player in the return game the first two seasons of his career. Despite that, he still became the only NFL player to accumulate over 1,000 yards passing and 1,000 in returning punts/kicks. No small feat. Brown also played behind Mike Wallace until he left town for more money. It wasn’t until then, that Brown took the work load as the #1 receiver on the team. Was that a fault of Brown and his skills? No. Wallace was the bigger/taller receiver that was the deep threat. Again, Brown just had a different role on the team at the time than what Bryant had already established on the Cowboys.

    Lastly, (and related to role and size) Bryant (6’2″) is a taller receiver than Brown (5’10″). The types of routes they run are different. The types of passes thrown to them are different. Why does Bryant have more TD’s than Brown? Well for one thing Bryant was used as a Red Zone threat early in his career due to his size. Brown – not so much. That continues today. Brown is used more of the yard getter and first down maker where Bryant is a more down the field type receiver.

    I think you have to keep lots of things into perspective when comparing players and their “impact.” By just comparing stats, you are narrowing things too much – even thought Brown takes some of them. If a receiver caught the ball 125 times for almost 2,000 yards, and 50 of those catches were for 1st downs… but he had no TD’s, would you consider that receiver to NOT be very impactful?

    • ty

      A pretty dumb argument I’m a huge cowboys fans and I had no problem with the placement. Basically Bryant is almost unstoppable in the red zone as Antonio brown is 20 to 20, brown is already legit as Bryant is still arriving and working on route running and getting open.

      • Craig

        I didn’t say I had anything wrong with the placement within the Top 100. And you’re exactly right, and like what I said – they serve different roles on their teams. AB – gobble up yards and first downs. Dez – red zone, TD catcher.

        • revellyre


          Except Brown had exactly TWO more 1st downs than Bryant and a much lower 1st down percentage (72 vs 62.7). And their Avg. yards per catch were virtually even (13.6 to 13.3).

          So what are we left with? IMO, touchdown, (that all-important, game-deciding stat that trumps all others) where Dez has a tremendous lead.

          Put your biases aside, we all have them, and ask yourself, honestly, who would you rather have catching passes from Big Ben?

          Dez or Brown?

          • Craig

            Two different styles of players and I would have Brown every time rather than Dez. IMO personality comes into play as the final factor, and Brown has it all over than Dez. Brown controls his emotions and is a very positive teammate on and off the field. Bryant?! Ha. Laughable the way he acts like my four year old having a tantrum over there on the sidelines.

            Not taking anything away from Bryant because he’s damn good. But, I indeed would take Brown any day. He’s just a better fit for the Steelers. Bryant would not fit as well, just like how Wallace was a constant struggle for this team until he signed with Miami.

          • revellyre

            Why didn’t you bother replying to the stats I compared? Everything you thought your guy did better, turns out Dez does just as well- plus he scores more TDs. You might want to find some better stats to support your argument next time.

            Now since you want to talk ESPN overblown nonsense, let’s do that. If Dez were such a bad apple with an additude, do you really think his teammates would speak so glowingly of him in every interview, w/out even being prompted, and he would be in line for a mega contract like he is? You really think Pittsburgh would turn up its nose for a talent like Dez if he were on the market. You know what kind of bidding war you’d have if a player of Dez’s caliber hit the open market? Look no further than what Wallace got?

            No Steelers have rap sheets, aye?

            What about Big Ben? A suspected rapist who’s just smart enough to get away with it? Now that’s the face you want representing your billion dollar organization, right? What has Dez done to besmirch his organization compared to Ben? Smack his crackhead mom with a baseball cap? Not pay a few bills? Leave a game when the other team was kneeling down to run out the score? His so-called sidelines rants turned into him trying to lift up his teammates spirits. I’d rather take that behavior over a suspect in multiple rape cases, wouldn’t you? Come on, man! Honestly is a virtue.

            But you’re a fan so I understand. I was just trying to talk about how the players’ on-the-field abilities and why I thought Brown was a bit behind Bryant in talent and most importantly, production. Should have known better. I’m done.

          • Craig

            Hey, no need to attack. We have varying opinions and that’s fine. Just because I haven’t seen the light and your way with Bryant doesn’t make my opinion any less than yours. You can stand down on the attacks.

            TD’s are not the only important stat for a receiver.

            Nice job bringing in Big Ben when he has nothing to do with this conversation.

            Lastly, I’ve given a nod to Bryant numerous times stating that he is a very good receiver. If Dez was on the market the Steelers would not go after him. Period. One big reason: 1) MONEY. He’s too expensive and the Steelers don’t go after highly sought and highly paid athletes. They avoid bidding wars. Maybe you should know a billion dollar organization before you criticize on how you think they would operate. Plus they would avoid his attitude – leaving the sideline before the game was over? Unprofessional and a slap to his teammates. If you think that’s being a good teammate, then you can have him.

            Take a deep breath and have a great day.

  • Downtown

    You’re really using starts as a key statistic? Perhaps dig a little deeper, you’d see Brown was in on 968 snaps last season. Bryant? 959. Call it a push.

    Dozens of ways to argue Bryant is a better player, but basing your first argument on starts shows poor comprehension of the comparison. You’re reaching. It’s also skewing what the poll really means (today, not the past) considering Brown was a sixth-round rookie in 2010 while Bryant had the personal investment of the owner backing a strategy to get him the ball early and often in every game. Of course he’s more productive over their careers. He has an entire year of playing time over him.

    And what about special teams? That isn’t even mentioned in here. Brown was fourth in the NFL with a punt return average of 12.8 yards. There’s only one player in NFL history to ever log 1,000 return yards and receiving yards in the same season. Antonio Brown in 2011. While I think it’s silly to go over the careers if you’re measuring players today, the fact you’re glossing over an angle that clearly shows Brown provides more impact than Bryant reveals your bias.

    My opinion, Bryant has better overall physical tools. Brown is a better route-runner and no one in the NFL is faster out of the break than he is. They’re very different receivers and just because they have WR in front of their names does not put them in the same comparative category. I think both teams have excellent receivers, but at least show why Bryant is better in a more comprehensive manner than starts and touchdown catches.

  • Old Frog

    I know the fantasy football guys focus on points but different strokes for different folks. Which is better for the team: 2000 receiving yards and 0 TD’s or 1000 receiving yards and 10 TD’s? One could argue either way.

  • Matt

    This is half-witted “journalism” in an attempt to justify your guy being “better” than a guy drafted in the 6th round of the very same draft…

    Antonio Brown didn’t “start” two games this season because the Steelers first package was run-based with 3 Tight Ends, 1 FullBack and 1 Halfback. He still logged significant snaps in every game though becoming the
    first WR in NFL History to gain 5 receptions and 50 yards in every single game in a 16 game season. So Dez Bryant wins in 1 category of merit; touchdowns which typically are a fluky statistics. However, I will not deny Bryant is, without question, a better scorer because of his redzone abilities. You see… That’s called being unbiased and objective.

    However, calling him better than AB is a push in my opinion. For instance, despite playing significant snaps as a rookie whereas Antonio Brown did not, Dez Bryant only has roughly 500 more career yards. That’s not even factoring in Brown played with a busted ankle most of 2012.

  • Jim

    I’ll take Dez

  • MercWithaMouth

    Ill take Dez any day, but this is the “Top 100 players of 2013″ and why we continue to have arguments in which we use career stats on these lists, I have no idea. Its about what the player did in 2013 NOT what they’ve done in their career. Brown out did Dez in 3 of 5 of the categories you listed from last year. Now Im sure there are other stats that could be put together but being that these are voted on by players themselves I doubt stats come into play much…