Within the NFL, a player's durability is valued as much or more than any trait. Everybody knows this.
"Availability is a skill," we often hear.
But it's also true that when players take the field at far less than 100 percent health, their production will be far less than optimal. And when production is sub-optimal, we have fantasy problems.
As you've probably noticed over the years, it doesn't take much more than a single disappointing season — regardless of the cause — to change our perception of a player's fantasy potential. This is one of the easiest and most obvious paths to find draft values.
Which brings us to Odell Beckham Jr.
He entered last season as the consensus WR6, selected 16th-overall in standard drafts. Nine months later, Beckham's average draft position is 29.2 in Yahoo leagues (WR9) and 35.01 at NFC (WR11). So, if you view his 2020 upside as fundamentally the same as last year's upside, he's kind of a steal.
Beckham of course busted for fantasy purposes last season, even if the year-end numbers didn't seem catastrophic: 74 catches, 1,035 yards, 4 TDs. He finished as WR26 in half-PPR formats, which was a small disaster. He produced only two games with 100 or more receiving yards and he never caught more than eight balls in any contest, despite playing all 16. Beckham also saved one of his better performances for Week 17 (3-81-1), helping no one who plays in a legitimate fantasy format.
As we've all learned by now, Beckham was playing through injury in 2019. He had surgery to repair a core muscle issue in January, immediately after the season ended. He characterized the procedure as "one of the worst surgeries I've ever had." Beckham posted to various social channels last month to update his progress, and ...
It's promising. This definitely has the feeling of a situation in which Beckham's availability while injured last season did him no favors in terms of our perception of his talent. Let's just remember a few things:
1) Beckham is still just 27 years old, squarely in his prime;
2) He's averaged 6.2 receptions and 86.8 yards per game over his six seasons;
3) He's still the guy who did this;
4) Beckham gave us a 101-catch season with late-career Eli Manning as his QB:
Again: Promising. Hardly a guarantee, but promising.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had an exceedingly rough second season, you might recall, completing fewer than 60 percent of his throws and tossing nearly as many picks (21) as touchdown passes (22). But he's also still the dude who delivered such a promising 2018, setting the rookie record for passing touchdowns (27) over just 14 games. Let's maybe not write him off entirely, based on a season spent with an overmatched coaching staff.
The Yahoo fantasy crew is just all over the place in our ranks of Beckham; he's as high as WR7 for one of us and as low as WR21 for another. I'm not gonna hesitate to take another shot with a player with OBJ’s proven upside, particularly when we have a clear known (and resolved) reason for his sub-standard 2019. Beckham has top-of-his-position potential if things break right.
I’ll take that all day in Round 3.