Odell Beckham Jr. Trade Reaction: Browns Get NFL’s Best WR, Baker Mayfield’s Fantasy Stock Rises

Odell Beckham Jr. Trade Reaction: Browns Get NFL’s Best WR, Baker Mayfield’s Fantasy Stock Rises article feature image

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Odell Beckham Jr.

  • The Odell Beckham Jr. trade gifts the Cleveland Browns with the NFL's best active receiver and boosts Baker Mayfield's fantasy football stock.
  • Ian Hartitz breaks down what this deal means for both teams on the field, plus more fantasy takeaways.

It actually happened: The New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns for a 2019 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers.

Yes, that certainly doesn’t seem like much for a consensus top-five wide receiver. Some (including myself) even believe that OBJ is the NFL’s best active receiver.

Four players have 40+ receiving TDs since 2014 …

AB: 59 TDs in 76 games
Nuk: 45 TDs in 79 games
OBJ: 44 TDs in 59 games 👀
Evans: 40 TDs in 77 games

🗣 Odell Beckham Jr. is the best wide receiver alive

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 23, 2019

Let’s break down the on-field and fantasy football impacts of this blockbuster deal for both teams.

What This Trade Means for the Browns

The Browns have their first true No. 1 outside receiver since prime Josh Gordon.

Beckham has played in just 59-of-80 (74%) games since entering the league in 2014, but he’s still established himself as one of the best to play the position through his first five seasons: OBJ’s average of 92.8 receiving yards per game trails only Julio Jones (96.7) among all wide receivers in NFL history.

Beckham has ranked among the league’s top-five fantasy options whenever he’s been healthy enough to suit up.

Here are his season-by-season averages in PPR scoring and overall per-game rankings among all fantasy players:

  • 2014: 24.58 PPR per game (1st)
  • 2015: 21.29 (3rd)
  • 2016: 18.54 (6th)
  • 2017: 18.5 (3rd)
  • 2018: 19.2 (8th)

Only Antonio Brown (22.58) has averaged more PPR points per game than OBJ (20.6) since 2014.

OBJ will undoubtedly be ecstatic about getting to play with former LSU teammate/longtime BFF Jarvis Landry again, but the really great news is his upgrade at the quarterback position: Baker Mayfield finished 2018 with significantly better numbers than Eli Manning in touchdown rate (5.6% vs. 3.6%), yards per attempt (7.7 vs. 7.5) and ESPN’s Total QBR (55.7 vs. 51.2).

To reiterate: Beckham has a very real case as the best receiver in the league.

Imagine trading away Odell Beckham Jr. pic.twitter.com/X7bbXNvXhX

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 13, 2019

It’s feasible that Landry and OBJ could each see 150-plus targets in 2019, but it would be a shock if Beckham doesn’t lead the way. Breshad Perriman, Rashard Higgins and David Njoku will have to deal with a new alpha receiver and the reduced target share that comes with that situation.

Still, OBJ’s playmaking ability should draw plenty of coverage his way and help heighten the overall ceiling of the Browns offense.

Mayfield is easily the happiest man in continental United States. He already surpassed expectations as a rookie and managed to function as the fantasy QB11 after taking over the starting job in Week 4 through the end of the season.

The ceiling is the roof for the future of the Browns’ franchise under center.

What This Trade Means for the Giants

The Giants will still have OBJ on their books for $16 million in dead money, according to OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald.

Saquon Barkley’s already monstrous workload is about to get even wilder while Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram will be relied on to pick up the slack.

The most troubling aspect of this deal is just how much worse the Giants — and particularly Manning — have been without OBJ in the lineup over the years.

What better way to extend your aging QB's career than to trade away the only thing that made him somewhat average?

Eli Manning with Odell Beckham Jr. since 2014 (59 games):
22.6 PPG
64% cmp
7.1 Y/A
4.6% TD rate

Manning without OBJ (20 gms):
18.6 PPG
61% cmp
6.4 Y/A
3.8% TD rate

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 13, 2019

It’s tough to see the Giants being competitive in 2019 considering their roster already lacked plenty of holes.

Barkley’s status as one of the league’s only true three-down workhorses makes him pretty much matchup-proof, but fantasy investors should be cautious about this passing game as long as Manning remains under center.

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