Fantasy Football: Odell Beckham Boosts the Entire Browns’ Offense
In a stunning move for both sides, the Cleveland Browns traded the 17th pick, 95th pick, and Jabrill Peppers to the New York Giants for Odell Beckham. How will this impact the Browns from both a betting and fantasy perspective? Let's find out.
The Missing Link?
Every team wants a player like OBJ on their team. He's one of the most prolific playmakers at his position right now. For some perspective, in his first three years, Beckham racked up 288 receptions for 4,122 receiving yards, which are both the second-most of any player's first three years.
However, Beckham also fills a void for the Browns. Jarvis Landry was acquired to be the team's lead receiver. He saw 27% of Cleveland's targets, a career-high. However, Landry's .48 receiving Net Expected Points per target was the receiver's second worst to date. His 41.9% target success rate was a career low.
David Njoku is one of only five tight ends with 1,000 receiving yards by the age of 22. Nick Chubb averaged over five yards per carry en route to a rookie season with 10 touchdowns and 1,145 scrimmage yards. Finally, Baker Mayfield showed off what made him a contender for the best modern quarterback prospect numerous times. The numbers point to Landry as arguably the weakest link on the team. Now, Beckham steps in as Cleveland's top receiver and in doing so, rounds out a truly dynamic offense.
The obvious loser is Landry. He saw 149 targets in 2018. With Beckham (who has averaged 10.5 targets per game) in the fold, that number will take a major hit next season. Landry has always relied on volume to score fantasy points. Now, that volume is gone, and he'll be relegated to second fiddle aside Beckham.
According to numberFire Editor-in-Chief JJ Zachariason, Beckham should be the one pushing for 150 targets.
“Prior to the trade, Jarvis Landry was likely to see about 23% of Cleveland’s pass attempts,” Zachariason said. “He had a higher target share than that without Freddie Kitchens running the offense in 2018, but when Kitchens took over, Landry’s share dropped to under 21%.
“Assuming that type of share stays consistent here in 2019, in what will likely be a pass-friendly offense, Landry was looking at about a 140-target campaign. With Beckham in the mix and taking on a large portion of the volume, Landry’s target projection now sits at 125, while Beckham shouldn’t have much trouble getting to about 155.”
Beckham's value in both the long term and short term is skyrocketing. Originally, he was playing 2019 with either Eli Manning or a rookie passer. Neither are appealing. Now, he'll play with an upstart Browns offense that appears ready to take the next step with Kitchens calling the shots. He'll also be attached to this offense for many years to come, as his contract doesn't expire until the 2023 season. Even if he restructures, it should be sometime before he leaves Cleveland.
The biggest winner of all is Mayfield. Beckham consistently showed the ability to lift up his quarterback while with the Giants.
The only difference now is that he'll be turning a good quarterback into a great one. Expect Baker to be the late-round quarterback of choice for sharp fantasy players.
Other fantasy relevant players on the team like Chubb, Njoku, and Duke Johnson (relevant is used loosely here) may benefit from this move as well. An increase in offensive efficiency and scoring will get the backs and ancillary receiving options closer to the red zone more often. That means more chances to score touchdowns.
Playing the Odds
Cleveland's Super Bowl odds have already surged to +1700, putting them at ninth in the NFL.
Despite the team's potential, now is not the time to bet them. With no first round pick now, the Browns could lose some traction in the Super Bowl race as teams around them take picks and make moves. It's best to wait it out and buy when hype starts to build around teams that "win the draft" or trade up for a win-now push.
Another strategy is to fade their Super Bowl or AFC Championship odds in favor of taking them as AFC North champs. Offense rules the NFL. The top four offensive teams in numberFire's Power Rankings were the four teams in the conference championship round. It's unlikely that the Browns make that big of a leap in one year. However, catching the Pittsburgh Steelers sans Antonio Brown or a volatile Baltimore Ravens team is easily in this team's range of outcomes.