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Rashard Higgins: High-Upside Option After Odell Beckham’s Injury (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Isaiah Sirois | @is_sirois | Featured Writer
Oct 27, 2020

Early in Sunday’s game, Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL trying to make a tackle after a Baker Mayfield interception. The Browns will now have to replace their best receiver.

Beckham earned only one target before his exit, so we got a glimpse of Cleveland’s offense without him around. While Donovan Peoples-Jones secured the game-winner, fifth-year journeyman Rashard Higgins benefited the most. He tied for the team lead in targets (6), and he pulled in all six of those passes for 110 yards.

Higgins makes an interesting waiver-wire pickup this week. While the Browns aren’t passing enough for me to get very excited about him, there should be enough volume for him to be a boom-or-bust play at WR4.

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Player Profile

Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins went in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. After a pair of decently successful seasons as a depth option in 2017 and 2018 — Higgins scored six total touchdowns on 66 catches through that span — he disappeared in 2019. Why? Well, blame Freddie Kitchens.

Higgins has succeeded in the NFL despite his lack of athleticism. He has just 21st-percentile speed, ninth-percentile burst, and 10th-percentile agility. Yikes.

But Higgins makes up for his lack of athleticism with his impressive advanced metrics. He has a 92nd-percentile breakout age (18.9) and an 88th-percentile college dominator score. And in the NFL, he even looked like the better deep threat over then-teammate Antonio Callaway in 2018 (Callaway ran a 4.41 4o-yard dash and has 77th-percentile speed).

In case you’re curious, yes, Higgins remains a PFF darling. According to the site, only Davante Adams (44.6 PPR points) and Tyler Lockett (53) ranked higher than him.

State of the Offense

But good PFF grades don’t always translate into fantasy value — Higgins needs to get counting stats to succeed. Fortunately, Beckham’s injury will open up a share of this offense for him. Unfortunately, the Browns attempt the fourth-fewest passes per game (30.14), and Nick Chubb will be back soon.

Before his injury, Beckham was averaging seven targets per game. But that’s a bit inflated — according to PlayerProfiler, only 69.8% of those were catchable. With just five catchable targets per game now going in Higgins’ direction, you’ll need him to make big plays with his limited opportunities.

The other concern here is that Higgins’ strong Week 7 showing came alongside a banged-up Jarvis Landry, who is still nursing a rib injury, and without Austin Hooper.

So while I’m concerned about the volume, there’s something to be very excited about: chemistry. After a rocky four seasons in Cleveland, Higgins re-signed with the team at Baker Mayfield’s request. The two developed a strong bond back in 2018, and Mayfield has confidence in the fifth-year veteran.

Higgins’ Outlook

The Browns will play the Raiders before their Week 9 bye, and then they’ll play the Texans, Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans. All five teams rank in the bottom-12 against wide receivers, so Higgins has some easy matchups on tap.

That said, Nick Chubb should be back by Week 10, and Kevin Stefanski will probably pivot back toward the run when he gets back. There will still be targets to go around, of course, but it’ll make Higgins a boom-or-bust option as Odell Beckham had been.

Higgins is a great player to add if you need receiver depth, especially because he’ll stay in this role for the rest of the season. The Week 10 bye undercuts his short-term value, but he’s worth picking up in all formats.

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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