The days of Odell Beckham Jr. being a shoo-in starter for your fantasy football lineups are no more. And his placement amongst the NFL’s upper-echelon of wide receivers appears to be dwindling in front of our eyes.
After being held under 30 receiving yards just twice over his 59-game career with the New York Giants, last Sunday marked Beckham’s fourth such occurrence over his mere 17-game career with the Cleveland Browns, per Pro Football Talks’ Michael David Smith.
Will a Week 2 matchup against the division foe Cincinnati Bengals help the three-time Pro Bowler turn things around? Or will OBJ simply burn a hole in your fantasy lineups if you so choose to roll the dice on him this Thursday night? Let’s discuss.
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Odell Beckham’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals may seem like a cakewalk matchup on paper, but dig a bit deeper and you find out they’ve actually been quite stout against opposing wideouts over their last 17 games. Cinci allowed just the 18th-most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2019.
They’ve since added to their secondary with the additions of Mackensie Alexander and Vonn Bell. In return, they held both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen below 70 receiving yards and scoreless in their 2020 season debut.
With that said, we’re not quite ready to give the edge to the Bengals just yet. For starters, as much of a question mark as Baker Mayfield may be, the Browns continue to be willing to put the game in the hands of their quarterback, for better or for worse. He’s averaged more than 34 pass attempts per game over his NFL career and added another 39 attempts to the stat sheet last weekend.
More attempts means more opportunities for Beckham, who despite his struggles, remains Mayfield’s top target in Cleveland, evident by the fact he outpaced Jarvis Landry in targets 10-to-6 in Week 1. Speaking of Landry, the Browns wideout is expected to play on Thursday but may be limited due to a hip injury.
The Bengals defense has also allowed 11 different opposing receivers to top 100-yards receiving and/or score at least one touchdown over their last 11 games. One of those wideouts just happens to be Beckham himself, who back in Week 17 of last year finished as a top-17 fantasy play at his position after posting 81 receiving yards and a touchdown against Cinci.
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Should You Start or Sit Odell Beckham in Week 2?
We touched on the Bengals’ new-look secondary above, what we failed to mention is the fact that three of their top-five defensive backs combined for an average Week 1 Pro Football Focus grade of 60.1.
There are holes to attack in the Bengals defense, it’s just a matter of where. For instance, Cincinnati held opposing running backs to the ninth-fewest reception total at the position last season, and Austin Ekeler to just a single catch in Week 1. In return, this could mean a lighter workload for Kareem Hunt as a receiver, who has averaged nearly six targets per game since joining Cleveland.
Those targets will need to go somewhere, so how about a wide receiver who has scored a touchdown in two of his past three games? Don’t expect OBJ to have a field day on Thursday night. However, if you’re okay with a floor point output in the mid-to-low teens Beckham is your guy, and for that reason, he’s a mid-tier WR2 play vs. the Bengals.
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