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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Odell Beckham Jr. No. 68

The Browns No. 1 WR comes in at 68 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) warms up before the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Odell Beckham Jr. of 2014 to 2016 has yet to show up for the Cleveland Browns, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t. With only one full season in his last four, injuries have been a major factor in Beckham’s down seasons, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 68, Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns, WR

Ranking Beckham Jr. is always fraught with peril. We know how good he can be, but we also haven’t seen those upside results we keep hoping for. but as the Browns improve, Beckham Jr. will also see his realistic upside improve.

Competition for touches

Not including the game he was injured and the game against the Steelers when the Browns were absolutely demolished and Baker Mayfield completed just 10 passes before being sat, Beckham Jr averaged 7.8 targets per game through five games last season. That put him on pace for 125 targets. That would put him on pace for a 67/941/10 line, not including the rushing touchdown he had against Dallas. Jarvis Landry had 101 targets last season while nobody else topped 52. There is some young talent at receiver in Cleveland, but nobody is ready to step in and take looks away from Beckham.

Team offensive expectations

The offense was inconsistent last season, but also had two crazy wind games and that wild beat down by the Steelers, who they went on to beat in the playoffs. Mayfield improved his numbers late in the season. He had an 89.7 QBR through the first 10 games that jumped to a 103.4 in the final six games. He then put up a strong showing against the Steelers top defense in the playoffs.

What’s his upside?

Beckham’s upside remains at least near his first three seasons with the Giants. The Browns will run the ball plenty, but he is still the No. 1 receiver on a team set up to go to the playoffs once again. Scoring opportunities will be there and we saw him score three touchdowns in one game last season. He’s not washed up.

What’s his downside?

His downside is low, as we’ve seen him injured in three of the last four seasons and not always on the same page with Baker Mayfield. It will take a leap of faith to draft him at his ADP, but at least his ADP is much lower than in previous seasons.

Projection

85 receptions, 124 targets, 1150 yards, 6 touchdowns