Let me let you in on a little secret: last year I drafted Odell Beckham Jr. Here’s another secret: knowing what I know about Beckham’s fantasy football production in recent years, I still decided to trade for him this year. Oh, and last week I traded him for Jaylen Waddle. So this story ends well. But if you start Beckham tonight, it’s not likely to end well.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s role in Cleveland
My PFN colleague, Tommy Garrett, shared earlier this month that “you can’t reliably start Beckham with the way things currently stand.” He was referencing the Browns’ extraordinary backfield, which through Week 5 was on pace to help Cleveland smash the all-time single-season record for rushing TDs. This has been, after all, a run-friendly offense for years.
Beckham’s high-water mark in Cleveland was his first year with the club in 2019 when he eked out a 1,000-yard campaign. But Kareem Hunt only played half of that season, and Baker Mayfield averaged 33.4 pass attempts per game. Last year, Mayfield’s attempts dropped to 30.4. This year? 28.8. Only six teams have thrown fewer passes. This is not a time to shine if you’re a Cleveland receiver.
Unless you’re David Njoku in Week 5 or Donovan Peoples-Jones in Week 6.
And that’s the point — until this week’s matchup against the Broncos, the Browns have remained committed to an elite rushing attack. Their minimal interest in the passing game has left room for maybe one receiver to shine each week, and another to be adequate.
Last week, Peoples-Jones dominated with a 4-101-2 receiving line. Beckham had one of his best games in a while — 5-79-0 — which a few years ago might have been a disappointment for fantasy managers. How times have changed.
As of Thursday morning, Beckham reportedly was facing an “uphill battle” to play tonight as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. But a short time before the opening kickoff, he was declared active. Meanwhile, Jarvis Landry has been activated from IR and is expected to play. With both Nick Chubb and Hunt sidelined, the Browns will probably be forced to throw more than usual. And with Mayfield’s injured shoulder sidelining him, we’ll see what Case Keenum can do in his first start since 2019.
Should you start Beckham in Week 7?
Let’s face it — this is a mess. But we have to make sense of it. Beckham is a mostly TD-dependent WR4 who could exit at any time. It’s worth noting the Broncos have the league’s fourth-best pass defense.
The Browns can support one receiver any given week. Supporting two against Denver is a tall order. Beckham is a benchable hold or a sell, depending on your needs.