The Cleveland Browns will have to continue their 2020 season without wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. The star pass catcher texted reporter Josina Anderson to announce he suffered a torn ACL in Week 7. He suffered the injury attempting to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield threw an interception.
The loss is a big one for the Browns, but opens the door other receivers to make contributions. In the team’s Week 7 win over the Bengals, receiver Rashard Higgins led the team with six receptions for 110 yards and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones had three receptions for 56 yards and what proved to be the game-winning score. It was also a big day for the Browns tight ends, with Harrison Bryant finding the end zone twice and David Njoku adding a touchdown.
You don’t easily replace an OBJ, but the Browns showed they could spread the ball around without him. They don’t get to face teams like the Bengals every week, but they face a relatively modest schedule in the coming weeks. They host the Raiders, and then after a bye host the Texans and Eagles before traveling to face the Jaguars. They still have to face the Titans, Ravens, and Steelers, but with games against the Giants and Jets mixed in, this is a team with a strong chance of earning a wild card bid.
Impact on playoff odds
Prior to the injury, DraftKings Sportsbook had the Browns at +1400 to win the division, +1800 to win the AFC title, and +4000 to win the Super Bowl. They entered Week 7 at -182 to clinch a playoff berth, and when new odds arrive on Tuesday, they should improve even without OBJ on the roster.
The Browns are 5-2 and have quite a few winnable games on their schedule. Next week against the Raiders is a tough one, and I don’t expect them to beat the Titans, Ravens and Steelers. But even if they lose all four of those games, the remaining five games are eminently winnable. If they can beat the Texans, Eagles, Jaguars, Giants, and Jets, they finish the season 10-6. With three wild card berths available this season in an expanded playoff pool, a 10-6 record will get a team in the playoffs.
Impact on fantasy football
Rashard Higgins looked like the big beneficiary out of the gate, tying for the team lead in targets and converting all of them into production. It’s too soon to tell what we can expect week in and week out from Higgins, but he is trending in the right direction.
Jarvis Landry is the Browns top receiver with OBJ out. Landry has developed a firm fantasy floor, but his ceiling has not been great. He has a chance to break out moving forward, but for now he remains a solid PPR option and a flex in standard leagues.
Baker Mayfield struggled early in the game but got on track in the second half. That can be par for the course for Mayfield against bad defenses, so we’ll need to hold off before making too many judgments. But, the matchups are there for Mayfield to take advantage. He is not a regular fantasy start, but there are some great spot starts to be found in the Browns remaining schedule.
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