Fantasy Football: Odell Beckham Jr. is overvalued in 2020

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

In fantasy drafts, the first few picks will provide owners the best chance of getting players with elite production.

If your pick busts in the first few rounds, your team is at a big disadvantage. Drafting well early on is key to set your team up for success in the playoffs, which means you need to know who to target and who to avoid.

A good way of evaluating which players have the best chance of succeeding is by determining how much has to go right for them to produce as expected. Top players need to stay healthy, receive high usage, and be efficient with that usage. For example, Ezekiel Elliott has been healthy his entire career, he’s on a top-5 offense that has given him a minimum of 22.2 touches/game in his career and he is efficient with those touches. This makes him a very safe, undisputed top-5 running back.

Someone who I believe does not fit these criteria this year is star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He is currently ranked as the WR11 and the 26th pick overall in ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings) in Half-PPR formats. This sounds somewhat reasonable at first glance. After all, OBJ is a household name and was a top-5 fantasy wide receiver in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Last year could have been a fluke down year, especially because he claims to have been playing injured, and the upside of returning to his former self certainly is tempting. However, when evaluating him, I found this upside narrative seems to be very unlikely to happen.

New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was the offensive coordinator of the Vikings last year, who ran the ball 50.5% of the time, third most in the league. With so many quality passing options, I don’t think that the Browns will replicate this rate. Also important to note, last year they ran 932 plays, the 6th lowest total in the league. This was likely due to Freddie Kitchens not knowing how to run an offense properly, constantly making baffling calls that made drives stall out. So in 2020, with Stefanski replacing Kitchens, I expect the Browns to have more plays on offense, but also run the ball in a greater percentage of these plays.

I project Baker Mayfield to throw 525 passes, slightly less than he did last year (534), but the problem for Beckham is his target share. Last year, he had a 24.9% target share, while teammate Jarvis Landry had a 25.8% target share. Both of these should go down under Stefanski, especially as the Browns brought in Austin Hooper. Stefanski ran more two-TE sets than anyone else in the league last year, and it looks like he plans to do something similar with Hooper and David Njoku, whose contract option the Browns picked up. Also, Kareem Hunt was on pace for 88 targets last year in his half-season.

With so many receiving options on the team, I see OBJ pulling in around 115 targets with 70 catches, 980 yards, and 7 touchdowns, for 210 fantasy points in PPR scoring. There are many ways in which he finishes with even lower numbers than these, including a commitment to the run by Stefanski on par to that of the Vikings last year, more injury issues that have recently become prevalent in his career, or if other wide receivers on the team take away more targets than the little that they are currently projected. The only way that he does considerably better than this line is if someone else gets injured and if he stays healthy.

I don’t believe in OBJ’s ability to stay healthy, I certainly don’t believe in him receiving high usage, and I’m starting to doubt his efficiency after receiving 133 targets last year and finishing as the WR25 with 201 fantasy points in PPR. The only reason I’m projecting an improvement is that he seems to have been playing injured last year, and that he should see some positive TD regression.

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Players being drafted behind OBJ include Adam Thielen, Calvin Ridley, and Robert Woods, who I all believe are much better options that are much more likely to have WR1 seasons. At his third round price, I’m putting him firmly on my ‘Do Not Draft’ list. His upside isn’t as high as the consensus believes and people should realize that before drafting this year.