Note: We originally published sections of this analysis shortly after Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns. In this update, we will focus on what has changed since the March 12 deal.
Star New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been on the trading block for some time now, and as recently as Monday (March 11), the front office wouldn’t dismiss the rumors of Beckham being available for the right price.
The precise haul happens to be first- and third-round picks in 2019 and promising safety Jabrill Peppers. The Cleveland Browns reunite OBJ with last year’s prize free-agent addition, Jarvis Landry, as the two were teammates at LSU.
The biggest winner of this situation is quarterback Baker Mayfield. After authoring one of the most promising rookie seasons in recent memory, he now has two of the best receivers in the game at his disposal, in addition to tight end David Njoku and a pair of potentially explosive backs.
One has to believe the offense will be more competent all around in 2019, and Mayfield will be that much more comfortable with the intricacies of piloting an NFL offense.
Update: The Browns spent five of their seven draft choices on the defensive side of the ball, and the only offensive pick was on a reserve lineman (Drew Forbes) in Round 6.
Fantasy football outlook
Beckham was the offense in New York prior to the arrival of Saquon Barkley, and now he is poised to be slightly less the center of attention — likely the primary threat on intermediate and deep routes, but Landry could hog some of the short stuff. Then, assuming he isn’t traded after all, Duke Johnson is in the mix out of the backfield. Eventually it figures to be Kareem Hunt in that role.
Beckham probably will lead the team in touchdown receptions but may have to make the most of his catches with all of the weapons to be thoroughly dominant in fantasy. That is not to say he’s going struggle to find looks, since the trade cost so much and what he’ll be paid, although there’s a chance the volume is considerably lower than the nearly 164 he averaged during his 2015-16 seasons. In only 12 contests as a rookie, he, of course, put on his finest per-game showing with 24.8 PPR points per game. That figure hasn’t topped 18.7 in any of the last three seasons.
He has missed 16 games in the last two years. And Beckham has more or less been a victim of circumstances when he has been on the field with Eli Manning’s struggles. While still in his prime (27 in November), Beckham is an injury risk, and his sideline antics can grow tiring. But there is no reason to believe he will be anything less than a No. 1 receiver in fantasy.
Update: He is going right around the turn pick in most formats with an ADP of 14th overall and usually doesn’t fall out of the first 18 picks in conventional scoring systems. In PPR scoring, Beckham is the fifth receiver chosen, on average, courtesy of our friends at FantasyFootballCalculator.com. Going ahead of him: DeAndre Hopkins (7th overall), Davante Adams (8th), Michael Thomas (10th) and Julio Jones (11th). Unless you want to reach for Beckham into the first round (say, 8th or 9th), then he’s typically going to be drafted by teams picking in the 10th-12th spots of normal serpentine setups. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to go with an RB first or if your intentions are to target him at any point in Round 2. The lowest he has gone in observed drafts is Pick 2:10.
Update: In standard-scoring leagues, OBJ has been drafted once again as the fifth receiver taken but a couple of picks later at No. 16. His low in this format is 3:01. Beckham is the most likely wideout to lead Cleveland in touchdown catches this year, so Round 3 would be a steal by any standard. He’s more valuable in standard even though he goes later — the main reasoning is you are able to land a strong RB in Round 1 and then grab him at just about any point in the second, on average, of course.
The move makes Landry a safer WR2 in PPR given all of the attention Beckham draws. Njoku, while still a liability in the hands department, should be free to see single coverage all day long. The athletic tight end is a low-tier starter in fake football.
Beckham’s addition only improves the rushing attack and the should force defenses to pick their poison. Of course, chemistry is always a factor one cannot predict, but there is enough talent throughout the offense to give Cleveland the benefit of the doubt — for as difficult as it may be to stomach.
As of the time of this update, OBJ and Baker Mayfield have been working together during mandatory minicamp. Mayfield received praise from the wideout for his arm strength and confidence.
Mayfield goes from a fringe QB1 to a signal-caller in the middle of fantasy starters. There will be a few hiccups along the way, but his sheer potential for greatness is impossible to ignore.