Odell Beckham’s 2019 season was one of missed opportunities. Beckham was plagued by a core muscle injury all of last year and never developed chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield. Despite the growing pains, Mayfield gave Beckham plenty of chances. Beckham finished 12th among wide receivers in total targets, and many of those targets were down the field. Beckham finished second in the league in deep targets, third in air yards, and third in total target distance, yet only finished with 1,035 yards, good for 23rd out of all receivers. In other words, Mayfield was looking for Beckham down the field with frequency, but they rarely connected. The reasons why are too complex to narrow down to a single issue, but Mayfield’s poor accuracy and Beckham’s injury certainly contributed. Mayfield should experience positive regression under new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski this year, who is a proponent of play action, an area where Mayfield excels. Beckham is reportedly healthy after undergoing surgery earlier in the offseason. Beckham’s raw talent remains among the best in the league at the receiver position and he provides a ceiling that would crush his current draft spot of a low-end WR1/high-end WR2.
The concerns with Beckham are that he never develops chemistry with Mayfield and the Cleveland passing game sputters for its second straight year. The Browns’ offense is stacked on paper, but just ask anyone who drafted Beckham last year if that guarantees the offense will perform well on the field. Beckham’s underlying numbers also suggest there is some cause for concern. He was completely neglected in the red zone last year, finishing with a pathetic five red zone receptions and only four total touchdowns. Beckham also finished among the league leaders in drops with 11 and was inefficient in managing only 7.8 yards per target, good for 58th in the league among wide receivers. Beckham could also experience a reduction in volume due to Stefanski’s run-heavy scheme. Beckham has a high ceiling, but his range of outcomes is among the widest in fantasy at his position.
2020 Bottom Line
Beckham has the talent to finish as a high-end WR1 if the stars align and Cleveland has a productive passing game this year. Last year should make drafters hesitant to break the bank on Beckham, but a discount is already baked into his ADP as he is currently going as a high-end WR2 in some drafts. Beckham carries plenty of risk but has substantial upside and is an exciting pick in the late third round.