Remember when the Browns were the laughing stock of the NFL?
Forget about it -- those days are over.
Jabrill Peppers, Beckham will anchor a Browns passing offense that came alive with Mayfield under center last season. The then-rookie tilted defenses for 266.1 yards per game and 27 touchdowns in 14 appearances.in the 2019 draft along with safety
Beckham has been among the best and most consistent Fantasy receivers since joining the NFL, posting 10-plus Fantasy points in 40 of 59 regular-season games (a 68 percent success rate). He's done this on a steady diet of targets from Eli Manning, who in particular was on the decline in 2018 while playing behind a bad offensive line for the first half of the year. Beckham still recorded 10-plus in eight of 12 games. He's a supremely talented receiver with well-documented hands and athleticism who will now catch passes from Mayfield. FYI, our buds at Pro Football Focus ranked Mayfield second-best in deep passing behind Drew Brees last season.
About the only knock we can put on Beckham is that injuries forced him to miss much of 2017 and the end of 2018. You can certainly say he's an injury risk, but when he's not sore he has the potential to decimate defenses. Most will overlook the injury concerns in favor of the consistency and potential. There's no doubt about his status as a top-five Fantasy receiver and a top-15 overall pick.
Beckham figures to share the field with his long-time buddy and former college teammate Jarvis Landry. Miscast as the Browns' No. 1 receiver last year, Landry struggled to see regular targets from Mayfield, particularly since Mayfield challenged defenses further downfield from where Landry ran. Maybe it's too simple to say Landry is a slot receiver, a possession receiver and a not-No. 1-receiver, but that's what he is. And he's gonna be good with it moving forward since defenses will do more to take away Beckham than slow down Landry. Expect Landry to make good on the limited targets he gets, maybe five per game. It's not going to be enough to consider starting him on a regular basis in non-PPR, but he could be a good No. 3 receiver in full PPR. Expect him to be taken around 85th overall in PPR drafts and after 100th overall in non-PPR.
Obviously the news casts a dark shadow on the upside of Antonio Callaway. He's got a good shot to own the No. 3 receiver role with Cleveland but won't amass many numbers doing so. Maybe he gets taken very late in Fantasy drafts.
David Njoku also faces an uncertain future. On one hand, he's almost certain to enjoy single coverage in the red zone. On the other, he wasn't a consistent enough red-zone force with Mayfield last year and definitely isn't promised to be one with Beckham on his squad. All four of his 2018 touchdowns came from Mayfield, all in the red zone, but he had one game north of 70 yards last season (and two in his career). He's a touchdown-or-bust tight end who might get overdrafted because of where he plays and who he catches balls from (imagine that!).
It's the Captain Obvious statement of the century to say Beckham's arrival will mean nothing but great things for Mayfield. He averaged 20.3 Fantasy points per game without a stud receiver last year. While there are slight concerns about how well his offensive line will perform, especially after moving right guard Kevin Zeitler already this spring, his potential will drive up his Fantasy price tag -- and rightfully so. He's easily a top-10 Fantasy quarterback worth taking before the very end of Round 7 in my mind, but anticipate excited football lovers to reach for him sooner than that.
But perhaps the biggest winner of all is Nick Chubb, at least until we know exactly when Kareem Hunt will be back on the field. With Beckham on his side, defenses will have no choice but to play their safeties back and create some very favorable running situations for the Browns. Chubb stands to benefit the most after his outstanding rookie season. Like Mayfield, he dominated when given the chance in 2018 and should take advantage of defenses forced to account for the Browns passing game. Beckham had a profound effect on Saquon Barkley's numbers and will do the same for Chubb. He should actually be the first Browns player drafted in non-PPR Fantasy leagues, provided Hunt isn't a factor for at least the first half of the upcoming season.
Even this guy who you barely knew existed gets a bump since the Browns offense should be stronger than ever and create more scoring opportunities than ever before.
It would be over-dramatic to say Saquon Barkley will be a bust just because Beckham isn't drawing defenses away from the line of scrimmage. In four games without Beckham last year, Barkley had at least 13 non-PPR and 18 PPR points in three of them. The Giants' offensive line is improving and there's absolutely no doubt about who will get most of the work in this offense moving forward. A pessimist would argue Barkley could get worn down with as many as 350 touches in his future, but it's not enough to make an argument for passing on him with a top pick in PPR. I would entertain Ezekiel Elliott ahead of Barkley in non-PPR since both are in run-first offenses, but Elliott has Amari Cooper to help draw some coverage away from him.
Evan Engram has some injury issues but might wind up being the biggest benefactor from Beckham's bye-bye. In 16 games without Beckham spanning two seasons, Engram has at least seven non-PPR points in 10 of them. He did better with more targets going his way, which makes sense, but also with defenses able to key in on him, which is a credit to his game. Engram is evolving as a route runner and has a chance to be a breakout tight end in 2019. With Fantasy owners clamoring for tight end value, Engram will get snapped up before Round 6 ends regardless of format.
Beckham's departure should also pave the way for Sterling Shepard to see more targets. Unlike Engram, however, Shepard's numbers never were great without Beckham. He had just three games with 10-plus Fantasy points in the 16 games Beckham missed in 2017-18. We're talking about a good receiver with very nice route-running skills, but he's not a fixture for the offense. He's a Round 10-ish pick in non-PPR and closer to Round 9 if catches count. Expect the G-Men to try to find a big-play receiver in the draft to free up Shepard.