It’s all happening in fantasy land. Super keen redraft leagues are drafting, dynasty drafts are underway and Twitter is awash with “would you accept this trade?” poll questions. As you know by now, responsibly providing wild fantasy football predictions is the deal, and you won’t be disappointed with the menu today. Sit down, settle in, and grab your cutlery – we’re going to chow down on the most valuable fantasy players in the AFC North in 2020.
Before we get started, the point of the following exercise should be made clear. This is not about who will score the most fantasy points in 2020; rather, who will get you the best value based on their draft position, their output and their opportunity.
For reference, the following stats are taken from a few different sources, all of which are worth your time to look at.
The ADP is fantasyfootballcalculator.com, which provides exceptional tracking data for ADP’s over the year. The rankings are taken from various sources, most prominently our very own TimeSkew fantasy rankings, which project scores and stats for the 2020 season.
The value placed on the player then comes from the most jarring disparities between those two values; for example, Mark Ingram has an ADP of 3.12, making him the 19th running back off the board in most drafts, but projects to score as the RB28 in a 12 team standard league.
Look out for my next series where we will talk a bit more about Ingram and other AFC North players to avoid in fantasy this year. But for now, let’s start of the series by looking at the…
The Browns were far and away the winners of the 2018 offseason; creating a mesmerizing mix of hype, hope, and potential before a snap had been played in 2019. It’s fair to say that they stumbled. First-year HC Freddie Kitchens was one-and-done as the leader in Cleveland, the dream team of OBJ and Jarvis Landry underperformed and the pre-crowned King of Ohio, Baker Mayfield, struggled mightily through the season. The combo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt provided some spectacular bright spots, but couldn’t drag the team past their 6-10 record in the AFC North.
Looking forward to 2020, Cleveland is a polarising spot for most fantasy owners. Besides Nick Chubb, projecting the potential of the skill position players for the Browns is difficult. However, pleasingly for the stats people, most of the Cleveland Browns are ranked and projected in similar spots. Making the decisions fairly simple depending on your draft position. Need a starting FLEX and you’re in the middle of the fifth? Jarvis Landry is your guy (ADP 5.08/PROJ WR29). Missed out on the top TE targets and need to grab a high floor guy in the seventh round to provide consistent points? Austin Hooper step right up (ADP 7.04/PROJ (average) TE11).
However, there is one glaring anomaly that provided the inspiration for this series, one of the most dynamic and divisive players in the game; Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ is currently holding an ADP of 7.09, but is likely to move up to the early seventh as we get closer to the season. Based on that, he is the 34th receiver off the board in most leagues.
Pause for a second and imagine going back to your 2017 self during the NFL season and telling them that OBJ would not only be playing in the AFC North as a Cleveland Brown in 2020 but would be drafted in fantasy AFTER Amari Cooper, Will Fuller, Devante Parker and some guy called Terry McLaurin. You’d be locked back in the DeLorean and sent on your way.
There is no doubting the otherworldly talent of Beckham. In his career so far, he has made an indelible impact on NFL history; leaving his name plastered all over the NFL record books:
The doubt here is squarely around the Cleveland Browns ability to utilize Beckham in an up and down offense that failed to function at times behind a porous offensive line.
Reflecting on 2019
Let’s look at what Beckham actually accomplished (good and bad) in a season retrospectively marred by a torn abductor and torn rectus abdominis and a hindered by a disappointing Cleveland team:
- 75 receptions (133 targets)/1035 yards/ 4 TD’s
- 4.6 receptions per game/64.7 yards per game/55.6 catch % – all career lows
- 14 yards per reception (3rd highest in career)/longest reception of 89 yards (longest of career)
- Most jarringly – a 6% drop rate on his catchable targets; up from 2.4% in his last year in New York.
That was good for a #31 placed finish in most standard leagues; with PPR leagues moving him up into the mid 20’s. Based on his sky-high ADP from 2019, Beckham was most likely a frustrating pick for someone in your league.
How does 2020 shape up?
Shift that to a 2020 outlook and Beckham is most definitely splitting opinions. According to NFL.com fantasy, he is the 33rd ranked WR. He’s the WR24 according to fantasy guru Adam Rank, and the WR17 according to Sleeper (12 team half PPR). It goes without saying that the scoring can radically change the ranking, but that is still a wide spread. Even if we look at one of the higher rankings out there, our own TimeSkew WR rankings, which projects Odell as the WR14; he still represents tremendous value based on his seventh round ADP. A quick look at the projections for OBJ tell a positive story for 2020:
|2020 Projections||Yards||Receptions||TD’s||Fantasy Points|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||1189||79||8||207.1|
A lot of doubt remains around Beckham, but even playing injured alongside another elite WR target in Jarvis Landry, he still produced ‘decent’ (not fantastic) numbers. With time to heal, a revamped offensive line, a new coach that made Kirk Cousins a consistent top 15 quarterback during his time in Minnesota and a distinct lack of hype in comparison to the 2019 season; Beckham is in a good spot to produce.
There we have it. The magical (and in no way mathematical) “Value x Expectation x Opportunity” formula spits out Odell Beckham as the best value player on the Cleveland Browns for your 2020 fantasy team. Be confident grabbing him as your WR2 in your draft’s mid-rounds.
Next up in the AFC North- the Baltimore Ravens…
Keep an eye out for more fantasy content from myself (@Jackmullins55 on Twitter) and the great cast of writers at TimeSkew.
Jack is an NFL nerd with a passion for player stories and watching too much draft coverage. He's a DB coach with the Exeter Demons University team in the UK and a Steelers fan.