Fantasy Impact: Odell Beckham Jr. Traded to the Browns
While free agency has had the spotlight for the last 32 hours or so, the Browns and Giants just took center stage after they announced a trade involving Odell Beckham Jr. In the trade, the Browns will ship away their first-round pick in 2019 (No. 17 overall), their second third-round pick in 2019 (No. 96 overall), and safety Jabril Peppers in exchange for Beckham.
We’ve heard rumblings about a Beckham trade for well over a year now, though the Giants appeared unwilling to move their superstar. There were multiple teams who had inquired about Beckham, though the asking price was apparently too high. Many will say (myself included) that the price to get him wasn’t that high.
ALL-TIME GREAT WITH GIANTS
While with the Giants, Beckham has dealt with some injuries, missing 21 games in five years, with 16 of them coming over the last two seasons. But when on the field, Beckham has been as good as anyone in the game, even with Eli Manning as his quarterback. The results haven’t been compiled for the 2018 season just yet, but based on my Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between series, Beckham would go down as an all-time great for his performances throughout the first four years of his career. Here’s a look at his numbers compared to some of the greats of this era.
|Player||GAMES||WR1 %||WR2 %||WR3 %||BOOM %||BUST %|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||47||48.9%||74.5%||76.6%||34.0%||8.5%|
As you can see, Beckham’s numbers are shockingly good and it’s fair to say that he’s played with maybe the worst quarterback of the bunch. Keep in mind that ‘boom’ stands for 25-plus PPR points.
OPPORTUNITY FOR NEW HEIGHTS?
Now that he’s off to the Browns, it’s fair to wonder what his ceiling might be. During his rookie season, Baker Mayfield tossed 27 touchdowns despite not starting until Week 4. Without looking, how many seasons do you think Eli Manning had 27 or more passing touchdowns without Beckham? He did that three times in 10 seasons (never more than 31 touchdowns). Even better is what Mayfield did once Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator.
|With Hue Jackson||60.0||252.6||6.7||10||7|
|With Freddie Kitchens||68.3||279.6||8.9||17||7|
It appears that Mayfield is the real deal, so now we need to address the target situation among the skill-position players on the team to ensure he’ll get enough volume to post elite numbers. Mayfield attempted 221 passes with Kitchens as the offensive coordinator with 122 going to wide receivers, 54 to running backs, and 42 to tight ends (three unaccounted for). That’s a 55.2 percent share to the wide receivers, which would have ranked 23rd in the league in 2018. While that’s not great, you can make the argument that they would’ve targeted the receivers a bit more, had there been a true No. 1 receiver on the roster, like Beckham.
During the seven games under Kitchens, the Browns averaged 31.6 pass attempts, which would amount to just 505 over a full 16-game season, which again, is not a lot. That would have tied the Texans for 27th in the league last year. Kitchens did take over mid-season, Mayfield was a rookie, and they didn’t have a go-to receiver on the perimeter, so we should expect that number to go up, though I’d urge you to proceed with caution from raising it too much. The Browns defense has a lot of talent and they just added Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson to an already stout front-seven. They also added Kareem Hunt to pair with Nick Chubb, so they’re going to run the ball an awful lot. It would be optimistic at this point to say the Browns throw the ball more than 550 times in 2019.
Even if we raise the number to 550 pass attempts and bump the receivers up to a 60 percent share of the targets (would rank 10th-highest), we’re looking at 330 targets to divide between Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and others. Remember, that’s best-case scenario. The Browns aren’t going to cut the already semi-low target share for David Njoku, and the running backs are going to be involved. This could turn into a Stefon Diggs/Adam Thielen-type situation where Beckham and Landry cap each other’s target upside, though you should put your money on Beckham to get a larger piece of that pie. The good news is that Beckham has never been a crazy-high-target guy, as his career high is 169 in one season, with three of the others 130 targets or below. On top of that, Landry wasn’t exactly what you’d call efficient with his targets last year, averaging just 6.6 yards per target and scoring four touchdowns on 149 targets. Worst case scenario, Beckham moves to the top of the totem pole and takes Landry’s targets, while Landry moves closer to the 100-target mark, leaving Callaway and others to battle for the remaining 80 targets.
No matter which way you slice it, this is exciting for Beckham and his fantasy prospects, though the offense may not be as pass-happy as we were hoping. Still, Beckham is now paired to Baker Mayfield for the foreseeable future and that should be exciting for football fans. He’s already flashed an all-time floor in one of the most predictable offenses with a quarterback who was clearly on the downside of his career. While it may take him some time to develop chemistry with Mayfield, you should be confident in Beckham as a top-five producer at wide receiver in 2019 redraft leagues, making him worth a late first-round/early second-round selection. He’s clearly moved back into the No. 1 wide receiver slot in dynasty formats with this move, as he’s just 26 years old and tied to one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. If there’s someone who loses a lot of appeal with this move, it’s Jarvis Landry, who might see a 40-plus target reduction in 2019. As for Mayfield, it’s fair to say he’s worthy of a top-eight quarterback selection and the argument can be made for top-five, though the lack of attempts may cap his upside. My early 2019 projection: 151 targets, 95 receptions, 1,352 yards, 9 touchdowns