The NFL is a quarterback league. Imagine what it would be like if you were to open up a fantasy football website and the first thing you saw on a daily basis was: “All Browns quarterbacks are officially on the shelf, as the franchise is looking to make a run at the Lombardi trophy.” Or, alternatively; “The Browns’ QB situation is not what it once was, as the team is currently looking at all their options in the free agent market.” The team is also pondering going the Tony Romo route and drafting a quarterback with their first pick, and bringing in a veteran to mentor whoever they draft.
The Cleveland Browns have been one of the most disappointing franchises in football in recent years. After making the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, the Browns have sputtered in every season since, and have only been able to win four games in each of the last two years. However, despite their struggles, the Browns are still expected to be one of the most powerful teams in the NFL in the 2021 season, thanks to many of their young stars.
We are going to look at the best players in the 2021 NFL fantasy football draft class and rank them based on the current roster and potential that their new team has for the following season. We will then compare that to the price you would have to pay for their services and give you a good idea of who you should be drafting and who you should be avoiding.. Read more about fantasy football rankings ppr 2021 and let us know what you think.
Things haven’t gone according to plan in Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr. experiment after two seasons. He struggled through the first seven games of last season, averaging less than 50 receiving yards per game, but when his season was cut short due to a ruptured ACL, the Browns offense took off, averaging over 29 points in their last eight games (including playoffs). As a result, there’s a growing (and generally held) belief that OBJ is terrible for Cleveland and that Baker Mayfield plays better when he doesn’t have to pass to his greatest star.
Is there a connection between the story and reality? It’s difficult to say. Beckham has yet to have a season in which he played more than 10 games and finished with less than 1,000 receiving yards, indicating that his skill isn’t the problem.
So, what’s the problem here? Let’s get right in and see whether Odell can reclaim his form in 2021.
Fantasy Football Stats for 2020
I’ll be looking at both 2019 (the year he joined Cleveland) and 2020 since Beckham only played 7 games in 2020 and the narrative around him is based on the previous two seasons.
OBJ has 97 receptions on 176 targets for 1,354 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 23 games with the Browns, good for a 55.1 percent catch rate and 58.9 yards per game. The statistics aren’t terrible, but they’re a far way from what he did with the Giants (16 game averages of 106 receptions, 1,484 yards, 12 TDs).
The 55.1 percent catch rate from the previous two seasons is the most notable statistic. When compared to Mayfield’s 60.9 percent completion rate over the last two seasons, it’s clear that Beckham has not only been a poor connection with Baker in isolation, but also a very unreliable target in Cleveland when compared to the Browns’ other weapons – he has a 62.2 percent completion rate to receivers who aren’t named Odell during that time.
Beckham has scored fewer than 11 points in PPR scoring in 10 of the 23 games he has played, and he has earned more than 20 points in just three of them. He’s been the arch-enemy of the popular high-floor player who has a proclivity to boom on any given week – the boom or bust guy whose booms aren’t worth the bother.
This isn’t meant to be a pity party for OBJ (no pun intended), but he’s been nothing more than a mid-tier WR3 for the last two seasons, and any honest fantasy player knows that.
Let’s dig in to see if there’s anything here that indicates a recovery in 2021 now that we’ve recognized the dangers of the past few years.
Fantasy Forecasts for 2021
Before reading the remainder of this post, I strongly advise you to watch this video on Odell Beckham by YouTube expert Brett Kollmann. With video analysis, Kollmann recounts Mayfield and Beckham’s difficulties from last year, demonstrating that their struggles weren’t due to either of their flaws, but rather to an extremely strange 2020.
Last year, as the X receiver in Kevin Stefanski’s system, Beckham was wide open for big money downfield, but Baker lacked the confidence in himself, as well as the connection with OBJ, to connect or even try to make many of these plays. Though the Browns found their groove and transformed into a really dynamic and balanced offense down the stretch, Baker began calling these new X receivers on these plays, even when they had less separation than Beckham had when he was healthy.
As a result, there’s a lot to be optimistic about this year, since unlike last year, the two have had the whole summer to prepare, in addition to real preseason repetitions.
Furthermore, given that Beckham still surpassed 1,000 yards in 2019, any major progress Odell and Mayfield make this summer should translate into spectacular statistics by the conclusion of the season.
I anticipate a significant improvement over last year, with 1,100-1,250 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, but keep in mind that those statistics aren’t a big leap ahead from Beckham’s 2019 season.
Position in the Rankings
If Odell Beckham comes close to those predictions, he’ll easily offer a return on value of 64 percent at his current ESPN ADP (WR26).
With a whole summer to train with the Browns’ system, OBJ is a far more interesting player in 2021 than Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, and many of the other receivers now being drafted ahead of him.
Despite being one of the most well-known players in the league, a little research and video analysis into the actual issues that plagued his career last season may lead fantasy owners to a player that could easily break into WR1 area in 2021.
If nothing else changes, consider OBJ a mid-to-low-end WR2 with the potential to break into the top-12.
Fantasy football has become a very big deal over the last few years, with the amount of money that is spent on it just completely blowing the whole idea of what a ‘fantasy’ is right out of the water.. Read more about fantasy football 2021 projections and let us know what you think.
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