Is Odell Beckham the Best Receiver of This Rookie Class So Far?

Beckham's touchdown catch on Sunday night dropped the collective jaw of the nation, but is he really the best receiver in the class?

Okay. So, two things before digging into the season that Odell Beckham is having.

First, wow.

Second, this article isn't meant to make any long-term projections about the potential of this rookie class. But so many rookie receivers are performing at a high level that Beckham, who has two multi-touchdown games in his first seven, isn't an obvious choice for the best rookie of the season.

In order to do this numberFire style, I'll look into the Net Expected Points (NEP) of the relevant rookie receivers to see just where Beckham, a highly scrutinized draft pick, stacks up against the rest.

Top of the Class?

If you don't know what NEP is, let me explain just a bit further. NEP measures how well a player is playing above or below expectation by indicating how many points a player is adding to or detracting from his team's eventual scoreboard total.

It'll become more obvious once I start delving into the numbers, which I'll do now by checking out Beckham's relevant NEP metrics and comparing them to other rookie receivers with at least 30 receptions entering Week 11. Sammy Watkins hasn't played yet, so this is the safest way to measure up for now. That still gives us a sizable sample - 11 players - but does exclude some intriguing names like Davante Adams and Martavis Bryant.

Here are the stats and metrics of those receivers who fit the criteria.

PlayerRecRec NEPTarget NEPRec NEP/TargetCatch RateSuccess Rate
Kelvin Benjamin5276.7535.340.7853.06%88.46%
Mike Evans4669.4042.480.9864.79%78.26%
Sammy Watkins4560.9221.620.7353.57%93.33%
J. Matthews4453.0830.420.7763.77%77.27%
Odell Beckham3144.4022.480.9364.58%93.55%
John Brown3242.3317.100.6952.46%78.13%
Brandin Cooks5341.5825.650.6076.81%75.47%
Allen Robinson4841.1711.700.5159.26%79.17%
Allen Hurns3041.135.580.7353.57%80.00%
Jarvis Landry4237.2425.000.6876.36%80.95%
Taylor Gabriel3036.8615.210.6653.57%86.67%

Despite playing in just six games to that point, Beckham had already ranked fifth in Reception NEP. Per target, his Reception NEP (0.93) ranks second behind only Mike Evans. Nobody else is better than 0.78 per target. As for Success Rate, measuring how many of a player's receptions result in positive NEP gains for the team, Beckham sat at the top at 93.55%.

But, of course, Beckham's cumulative numbers aren't quite up to par yet - like his Reception NEP - because he missed significant time to start the year. On a per-game basis, though, Beckham is right near the top in receptions, Reception NEP, and Target NEP.

PlayerGamesReceptionsReception NEPTarget NEP
Mike Evans95.117.714.72
Odell Beckham65.177.403.75
Kelvin Benjamin114.736.983.21
Sammy Watkins104.506.092.16
Jordan Matthews104.405.313.04

Of the 11 rookies in the subset, only those five players added at least 5.00 points through the air per game (in terms of Reception NEP). Beckham was tops in receptions per game but second in Reception NEP per game and Target NEP per game behind Evans, who came into his own a few weeks ago.

This is fine and good, and Beckham, through Week 11, was clearly one of the best in the class in the per-target and per-game metrics, which helped even the playing field. But Beckham's best game of the year came on Sunday night when he caught 10 of 12 targets for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Where do his metrics go from there?

One-Man Show

Despite catching only two touchdowns, he added about three touchdowns - 20 points or so - worth of points to the Giants' 28. Basically, he was just shy of three-fourths of the Giants' final score. It really doesn't get much better than that.

Evans, who really had the best claim as the best rookie receiver so far this year, was held in check against the Bears. With just 3 receptions on 11 targets for 47 yards and a touchdown, Evans was responsible for roughly four points of the Buccaneers' 13. Matthews was about the same as Evans was, posting a 6-catch, 8-target, 77-yard game against the Titans.

Kelvin Benjamin had a bye week, and Watkins, again, plays tonight. So while the metrics dust hasn't quite settled on this week, it would take a record-breaking night from Watkins to shake things up.

Beckham clearly took a huge step forward in staking his claim as the best receiver of this incredible rookie class.

The draft pick may have been an easy way to ridicule the Giants in the offseason, but they got this one right. Through 12 weeks of football, Beckham is the best of the bunch.