For the next few weeks before we get to focus on the NFL Draft, I’ll be clearing the tracks for the RotoExperts Fantasy Football Hype Train to talk about some players who may end up being buzzed-about names heading into Fantasy draft season. This week, let’s see what we might be able to expect from Odell Beckham Jr., perhaps the most electric receiver in the NFL already as a rookie with just 12 games to his name.
Beckham had a successful college career, which was capped off by receiving the Paul Hornung Award in 2013, given to the most versatile player in major college football. During his junior season, Beckham finished the year with 57 receptions for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns. Beckham emerged from LSU in last year’s draft as a respected but somewhat overshadowed wide receiver in the same first-round class as Sammy Watkins (selected 4th), Mike Evans (7th), Brandin Cooks (20th) and Kelvin Benjamin (28th). He was taken 12th by the Giants – the third receiver selected – a move that was received with some hesitation by Giants fans because of perceived depth and strength at the position, and myriad holes elsewhere across the roster.
After missing parts of training camp, preseason, and the first four weeks of the season, Beckham made his debut against the Falcons in Week 5 and produced four receptions for 44 yards and a score. I won’t go through a game-by-game stats analysis, but rest assured it was possibly the greatest rookie season by a wide receiver in NFL history. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of his consecutive games streak of 90 or more yards, or his 12-143-3 game against Washington on December 14th, or the catch. We can move on.
Going into 2015, the Giants should be poised to challenge for the NFC East title again, as their championship window begins to close as Eli Manning ages, and they push the chips to the center of the table to go for another Super Bowl title. Beckham has clearly and definitively emerged as the number one receiver, which will allow Victor Cruz some luxuries in terms of the coverage assignments and space to operate in the offense. The Giants do have weapons on offense, and depending on how they do in the upcoming draft and via free agency, could be a candidate for a three-to-four win improvement over last year’s 6-10 record. Will it be enough to stave off the Cowboys and Eagles? Time will tell. But one thing is for sure: Beckham will be a Top-12 pick in all Fantasy leagues this summer.
Hype Train Outlook: Completely worth the hype. I’ll say again: this man, on a balky hamstring across just a 12 game season, finished the year with 91 receptions (franchise record), 1,305 yards (franchise record), nine consecutive 90-plus yard games (franchise record & NFL record, ongoing), and 12 touchdowns. He is a prime candidate for a letdown due to outsized expectations, but I think it’s fair to think he’ll at least match these numbers over a 16-game season. With that four extra game cushion, and accounting for at least 1-2 stinkers, he’s a safe pick at the back end of the first round, and even as early as fifth in PPR-formats. We’ll see how the elite running backs shake out as the offseason marches on, but after being burned by Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Montee Ball, and other consensus top options at the position, if you’re picking seventh or later and want to go for Beckham as your top selection over Antonio Brown and wait to stockpile RBs in Rounds 3-6, is it really that shocking? With another banner year from ODB, it could make for a very rewarding season for both his Fantasy owners and Giants fans as they embark on a quest for another Lombardi trophy.