Will more mouths to feed in Cleveland
take a bite out of Odell Beckham Jr.'s fantasy value?
The 2019 NFL offseason will go down as one of the more active ones
in recent history, as three perennial first-round fantasy picks
changed teams. Antonio
Brown forced his way out of Pittsburgh to join the Oakland Raiders,
while fellow former Steeler Le’Veon
Bell sat out all of 2018 before signing a free agent deal with
While both the Brown trade and the Bell signing were not a surprise
to many after what transpired with Pittsburgh last season, the
trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns for a pair of draft picks,
and safety Jabril Peppers was a surprising transaction that sent
shockwaves throughout the fantasy community.
There were more than a few rumblings about the Giants possibly
sending their high priced wide receiver if they were “wowed”
by an offer. The 49ers were mentioned to be a possible landing
spot for Beckham, with San Francisco in need of a No.1 WR and
the cap space to handle OBJ’s contract.
Instead, John Dorsey and the Browns front office came through
with an offer that Giants GM Dave Gettelman could not refuse.
From a fantasy perspective, the move for Beckham Jr. from the
Giants to the Browns is a catch 22 based on which narrative you
choose to believe. With an NFL-record 27 passing touchdowns as
a rookie last season, Baker Mayfield is playing at a higher level
than Eli Manning, as Manning plays out the final years of his
contract. Although Manning was a big reason why Beckham found
so much success early in his career, the veteran QB is well past
his prime, and the Giants intend on evolving into a run-first
But the Browns have more mouths to feed, so expecting Beckham
to garner that amount of targets you would expect of an elite
wide receiver (165+) may be a tough ask. Besides, Jarvis Landry
is already the alpha dog in the offense and the locker room, and
the Browns still have tight end David Njoku who will soak up targets
Perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding Beckham’s
fantasy outlook in Cleveland is the fact that like the Giants,
the Browns are a run-heavy team who intend on leaning on Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson (if he doesn’t get traded), and Kareem Hunt when he returns from suspension.
In the final seven games with Freddie Kitchens running the offense
and the team, the Browns averaged just over 31 pass attempts per
game. If you extrapolate that over a full 16-game season, Mayfield
would have thrown the ball only 505 times, which would have tied
for the fifth-fewest attempts by a team. In addition to adding
Beckham and Hunt to the offense, Cleveland added defensive linemen
Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon, with the intention of being
a stout defense and a run-heavy offense.
Assuming that the Browns throw the ball a similar amount as they
did under Kitchens last year, it would be a safe estimate that
the wide receiving group of Beckham Jr., Landry, Antonio Calloway,
and the remaining wide receivers will have around 350 targets
to split between them (a league average of 65% of the team’s
total targets). Landry will command a ton of those, as will Beckham,
but I doubt either will push the 170 target mark of an elite WR1
Does that mean Beckham Jr. will be a bust in Cleveland? Absolutely
not. In fact, I anticipate he will have one of his better years
as a professional based on the logic that the targets he will
see will be much more valuable than what he experienced last season
with the Giants. Teams will not be afforded the ability to continually
roll safety coverage to OBJ with the other options on the team.
An 85/1400/12 line for Beckham Jr. is well within reach, making
him an excellent value in the middle to early picks of the second
round. Another thing to consider is the boost that Beckham Jr.
gives to Baker Mayfield, as I would not be shocked to see Mayfield
finish as a top-7 QB this season.