The NFL world thought it had its big shock of free agency at the end of last week, when Antonio Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders. Sure it was a big move, but he was expected to be moved after falling out with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Odell Beckham on the other hand just got a contract extension before the start of last season. Rumors swirled about teams trying to trade for Beckham for months, most didn’t expect it to happen. Even fewer predicted the team that actually made it happen: the Cleveland Browns. With a young promising quarterback and a strong supporting offensive cast, the Browns are actually a great landing spot for Beckham.
Odell Beckham Fantasy Football Fallout: How the Deal Affects Baker Mayfield and the Browns Offense
Biggest Benefactor: Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield already had a highly promising rookie season. Despite starting the season behind Tyrod Taylor and having his head coach canned during the season, Mayfield shined during his rookie season. In addition, his supporting cast for receivers was less than stellar. Jarvis Landry was solid but had less impact than many expected. From there, his other targets were mainly fellow rookie Antonio Callaway and second-year tight end David Njoku.
One of the biggest things that sapped some of Mayfield’s production was drops. In fact, Landry led the league in drops with 11. Callaway and Njoku tied with a few other players for the number 18 spot. As a team, the Browns had the ninth most drops in the NFL. There were tons of easy catches that Browns players just couldn’t hold onto, and others where Mayfield threaded a pass into tight coverage, but his receiver let him down:
Imagine ripping these tight window throws only for drops that happen 6+ times a game. pic.twitter.com/7tuS5pQTsR
— BrownsFilmBreakdown (@BrownsFilmBDN) October 16, 2018
Now, Beckham slides right into that number one wide receiver spot. Of his 124 targets, he only dropped four passes. Plus, he is as explosive as he is precise. Beckham can blow the top off defenses for huge gains just like Callaway did. But, he’s also one of the best route runners in the game, like Landry. Him being on the field is only going to make both other receivers better, and even open things up in the middle of the field for Njoku.
Mayfield’s development as the season went on was obvious. In fantasy, he was the QB17 on the year. However, looking at just the second half of the season, Mayfield jumps all the way up to being the QB11. Reduce that to the final four games of the season, and Mayfield becomes the QB9. With another year in the NFL, a stable offseason, and arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, Mayfield is almost a lock for a top ten finish. A top-five finish isn’t out of the question either.
Trending Up: Odell Beckham
Most of the time when a wide receiver goes to a new team, their stock drops, mainly due to concerns over how they will fit in with their new offense. In Beckham’s case, he will immediately benefit from a new environment. The New York Giants have had a predictable offense for years. Despite having one of the best wide receiver/running back tandems in the NFL in Beckham and Saquon Barkley, the Giants ranked a pedestrian 17th in offense last season. Cleveland was 13th.
In addition, Beckham has been masking Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s flaws more than Manning has helped him. Beckham is at his best going downfield and making those spectacular catches that made him a superstar in the league. However, Manning was the 23rd ranked quarterback in deep passes last season. On the other hand, deep passes are where Mayfield excels. Mayfield surprisingly ranked as the fourth-best quarterback when throwing deep.
Beckham will love this, and the best part is that he won’t have to do it all himself. While running back Nick Chubb is not quite on Barkley’s level, he still looked unstoppable at times once he took over. Also, don’t forget that the Browns signed Kareem Hunt. It is anyone’s guess when he gets back onto the field, but he will probably get there sometime during the year. Of course, Beckham’s old friend and college teammate Landry is still there as well. While he didn’t put up the number many expected as the number one guy, he will be an excellent compliment to Beckham.
Overall, this is probably the best supporting cast OBJ has had in his entire career. Fantasy team owners should have no problem taking him high in next year’s drafts. Top five finish imminent.
Holding Pat: The Rest of the Offense
As far as everyone else goes, they should stay about where they are. Beckham will eat up some targets and push every wide receiver on the roster down one spot. However, the offense will also be much more efficient. Landry fell short of 1,000 yards last year, but with Beckham drawing attention from defenses, his numbers could reasonably stay the same as he goes against number two corners and has Beckham occupying safeties. Njoku was pegged as a breakout candidate last year but didn’t really live up to those expectations. He still can’t be relied on. As far as Calloway, he was really only a boom-or-bust guy. He was trending up before the Beckham trade, but now he knocks back down to being nothing more than a deep-league streamer.
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