The Cleveland Browns have a lot to look forward to in the future. The franchise is already in a much better situation than they were in only two years ago when they bottomed out at 2-5 on the season. Now, fans should be looking forward to the 2021 NFL season.
In 2021, the Browns are likely to undergo a massive roster overhaul, as many of its stars will be on the verge of hitting free agency. The team’s quarterback of the present is Josh Gordon, who has seven years of experience with the franchise. The running back is Duke Johnson, who has been with the team since 2017, when he was acquired in a trade with the Dolphins. The team’s wide receiver is Jarvis Landry, a former first-round pick who has been with the team since 2015. The team’s defensive line features Olivier Vernon, who is a free agent as well. The team’s linebacker corps will be led by a newly-signed Zay Jones.
I know everyone is excited for the upcoming minor league season and fantasy football season is right around the corner. What I’ve noticed from start to finish is that Browns fans are the most excited about fantasy football. I’m a Browns fan so I can relate to that. The only team I’m rooting for is the Browns. I’ve been a fan since they were born so I know what it’s like to be a fan. Of course the Cleveland Browns fan base is probably the most loyal NFL fan base. I can’t wait to get season ready for next year and see how everyone does in the draft. The best part about fantasy football is that you can create your own team, win or
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.
In three months, the Cleveland Browns will begin preseason practice as they prepare for what could be a monumental offseason. The offseason is a time when people talk about what they want the Browns to do, how they would do it, and what the team should do going forward. After a season that saw the Browns go 0-16 for the first time in 80 years, the front office must make a major commitment to change if they want to be competitive in the future.. Read more about 2021 fantasy football rankings ppr espn and let us know what you think.
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