Divorce. It has become more common in society today than it has ever been. The same rings true for NFL wide receivers. We, the fantasy football community, have faced situations such as the current Odell Beckham case in previous seasons. Including Stefon Diggs in 2020 with the Vikings and Antonio Brown, twice in 2019, with the Steelers and Raiders. All three of these pro-bowl receivers had the same issue; Not getting the ball enough.
Although Brown never played a single snap for the Raiders, he was traded to the team because he was disgruntled with Pittsburgh’s utilization of a young Juju Smith-Schuster. Diggs was also upset with his role in the Vikings offense in 2019, the one season under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. Once Brown and Diggs found their new homes in Tampa Bay and Buffalo, they thrived with the change of scenery. One would assume Beckham will thrive in the Rams offense, especially after they lost Robert Woods for the rest of the year with a torn ACL. However, I am here to make the argument that it will not be much of a difference.
Diggs vs OBJ
First, let’s compare Odell Beckham and Stefon Diggs. Both played under Stefanski’s offense and had the same role in his scheme. According to Playerprofiler, Diggs averaged 25.3 routes per game and Beckham, in 13 games played over the last two seasons with Stefanski, averaged 25.4 routes per game. Diggs accounted for a 21.9-percent Target Share while Beckham had a 22.2-percent Target Share in 2020 and an 18.8-percent Target Share in his six final games in Cleveland. Similar opportunities for both receivers under Stefanski, but Diggs made more of those chances and averaged 14.4 Fantasy Points Per Game, compared to Beckham who averaged a measly 9.9 Fantasy Points Per Game. Also, Diggs had five top-20 weekly finishes in 2019 compared to just two top-20 finishes for Beckham.
Now, what was the cause for the difference in production between the two receivers? Could it have been Baker Mayfield‘s inability to connect with Odell Beckham on a consistent basis? That certainly was an issue between the two and they never developed the chemistry that Cleveland was banking on. But, Mayfield and the Browns performed better when Beckham was out of the picture. For a quick evaluation, let’s compare the efficiency of the other Cleveland receivers and compare them to Beckham. We will use QB Rating when targeting each receiver, also found on PlayerProfiler. First, let’s look at the 2020 season. Mayfield had a 101.9 rating on Jarvis Landry targets, a 119.0 rating on Rashard Higgins targets, and a 145.8 rating on Donovan Peoples-Jones targets. And for Beckham, Mayfield had a 91.1 rating for his targets.
“Well, that’s because Beckham Jr draws the best cornerback on each team and the other receivers get softer coverage.”
Evidence says you would, in fact, be mistaken. Another telling stat is Target Separation, which is the average yards of separation distance from the closest defender at the moment the pass arrives. Again, let us look at this stat for the top four receivers for Cleveland in 2020. Landry had a 1.00 Target Separation, Higgins had a 1.36, and People-Jones had a 1.47. And Beckham had the highest of the four at a 1.65 mark. So he was the most open, yet Mayfield could not get on the same page with him. Then again, he’s been on the Browns for two seasons and has had two full offseasons to get the chemistry down with Mayfield.
So, what has been the issue?
The biggest reason for Beckham’s drop in production is his injuries, and he has had a copious amount of them. His list includes a fibula fracture, a sports hernia, and an ACL tear. All of these injuries occurred after the 2016 season. He did rebound in OBJ fashion in 2018, putting up 19.2 Fantasy Points Per Game, but after that, each season has been lackluster. Even after the trade to Cleveland in 2019, the production was there but only in spurts. He finished inside the top 20 at the position in four games and outside the top 40 in six games. With the change in offensive scheme and the ACL tear, frustration began to build and now it has officially reached its breaking point.
Odell Goes Hollywood
Even signing with the Rams and their potent passing attack, we need to temper expectations. Odell Beckham just is not the same receiver we saw in 2018, but he can still provide the big plays for Los Angeles. I do not believe he can sustain a high Target Rate before his next injury. Already 29-years-old and with his injury history, Beckham has already reached his peak. However, the name value he carries, paired with the golden opportunity that awaits in greener pastures, will entice your fellow league mates. And you should jump at the chance to get rid of him. If he could not gel with Baker Mayfield, there is no reason to expect him to suddenly revert back to his old form with only half of a season left.
Remember the early season stretch where Robert Woods looked like a complete fantasy bust? That is my fear with Beckham. At this point in their careers, I would argue Woods is in a different stratosphere than Beckham. And now he has to become a great teammate and immediately click with Matthew Stafford? I would not buy into that at all. He has clashed with Eli Manning and Baker Mayfield about their inability to get him the ball. But after eight years in the league, it is obvious Beckham is the problem. This is great news for Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee, and I expect them to soak up most of Woods’ 7.7 targets per game.
In negotiations to deal Odell Beckham, make sure you point out his ability to still get open and how he will be a week-winner for their team with his big play potential. Also, argue for Matthew Stafford‘s MVP case and how he will feed Beckham now with Robert Woods out. Go get someone who actually has produced this season such as a Jaylen Waddle or a Brandin Cooks. Or buy in on the talent of Tee Higgins, Jerry Jeudy, or even Rashod Bateman. Beckham will be better now that he is out of Cleveland, but that is not a high bar to clear. Leave that headache for someone else and get yourself a second-half rebound candidate.