DON'T SLEEP ON ME: Odell Beckham Jr.
Fantasy Football is a very unforgiving game within a game. We set imaginary lineups in a game based on players playing another game. When things are going good, and the players on our teams our performing well, we treat them like kings. We will defend them against anyone who would dare to question their abilities. On the flip side, when a player underperforms, we crucify them. "Their" bad season in turn was "our" bad season. "They" missed the Pro Bowl. "We" missed our fantasy football playoffs. Often times this creates a thinking of Overrated! He's a bum! Never draft again. We've all been there, myself included. One of those players this season was Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ's average draft position for 2019 was pick 12 according to FantasyPros ADP data. He finished the season ranked 47th in PPR points when excluding all QB's. On a points per game basis, he ranked 66. He was a total bust. I doubt there was a single player who received more criticism than OBJ. But, has the hate gone too far? In my opinion.....ABSOFRIGGINLUTELY!
Has everyone forgot just how good Odell has been over the course of his 6-year career? In case you have, let me reiterate just how good he has been. These are just some of the NFL records OBJ held during his first three seasons. (Note: most of these records have been broken by Saints WR, Michael Thomas)
- Fastest player to 250 receptions
- Most receiving yards in first two seasons
- Fastest player to 4,000 yards
- Most games with 125 yards or more during first 3 seasons
- Only player in NFL history to have 1,300 yards in a season while playing 12 games or less
Have the last three seasons been as good as his first three? Of course not. But saying Odell has sucked for the last three seasons is completely inaccurate. Anyone who says that has not taken a closer look. The 2017 season saw Odell average the 3rd most fantasy points per game. And that was after seriously spraining his ankle during the 3rd preseason game of that year. He was putting up those kind of numbers playing on an ankle that was lucky to be at 75%. Unfortunately he ended up fracturing the same ankle after just 4 games and missed the rest of the season. Cut to 2018, Odell finished as the WR15 in ppr scoring. He managed that in just 12 games. On a points per game basis, he was the WR7. He also managed to do all of this with a badly declining Eli Manning throwing him the football. Then of course we all know what happened this past season. However, even if we include that 2019 season and take the averages over the last three seasons, Odell is still averaging 16.8 points per game. That would have been top 10 this season.
So, what happened? It's pretty simple actually, and it's this: HE HAD A BAD SEASON!!! One bad season in a 6-year career. Is he not allowed to have a bad season? Did everyone forget about DeAndre Hopkins' 2016 season when he scored 197 points and was the WR26. In 2017, Mike Evans finished with the nearly the same amount of fantasy points as Odell did this year. Or how about Amari Cooper's 2017 season when he scored a whopping 158 points and finished as the WR36. Or Larry Fitzgerald's 2012 and 2014 seasons when he was the WR32 and WR51. Were those players total bums? Of course not, and neither is Odell. He had a bad season on a new team that had bad coaching and very bad quarterback play. Odell wasn't great either, but it wasn't all his fault.
There are positives however that can be taken from his bad 2019 season. When looking at his snap share, Odell ranked number 6 in the NFL. He had the 2nd most deep targets in the league. His 133 targets were the 12th most. Those are good numbers. You want volume and you want that volume in the form of deep targets. Prior to last season Odell averaged 1.94 points per target. If he can get back to that number instead of the 1.51 he averaged this year, he would be closer to the 258 point range. Even though the new offense is likely to run more under Kevin Stefanski than it did this past season, I still believe we see Odell in the 130+ target range, but likely with much better efficiency. Combine that with some improved play from Baker Mayfield and I think we easily have our top 10 wideout back. I'd put money on it.
In dynasty he is a player I am absolutely buying if his owner has soured on him, and I'm looking to get him at value next season in redraft leagues. You should too.