Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski won’t say for competitive reasons if Odell Beckham Jr. will play Sunday in Kansas City. But the Browns’ medical staff has been encouraged by the progress made by Beckham, who has suffered no preseason setbacks 10 months after undergoing surgery to repair the torn ACL tendon in his left knee. Will he be ready for fantasy football lineups, or will Beckham’s injury need further time?
Odell Beckham Jr. trending in the right direction for Week 1
Beckham practiced all week on a limited basis, and the Browns listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game against the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs.
“He was limited today,” Stefanski said Friday. “We’ll use the next 48 hours with all of these guys to determine who’s playing and who’s not. We’ll let you know 90 minutes before the game.”
That would suggest the Browns expect Beckham to travel. Players who do not must be ruled out the day before the game.
The Browns have played a bit of a cat-and-mouse game all summer regarding Beckham’s status. Reporters haven’t seen him do a full-speed 11-on-11 drill since his injury last October.
The Browns have not made Beckham available to the media all summer. Even his prolific Instagram account, with its massive 14.4 million-user audience, has been a bit quiet. Not including stories, his last post was August 31.
The Browns proved last year they can win without Beckham — they went 11-5 and won a playoff game — but their offense has the potential for greatness if he can find his old form.
OBJ in the lineup gives Browns an advantage for Week 1
Baker Mayfield is coming off the most efficient season of his young career, and the Browns have weapons everywhere. Beckham, if he’s available, would join Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones in a loaded receiver rotation.
Plus, if there is a potential weakness on the Chiefs’ defense, it’s in the secondary. Even though Tyrann Mathieu was removed late Saturday afternoon from the COVID list, he has missed practice time this week.
Additionally, Kansas City has real questions at cornerback with L’Jarius Sneed (a fourth-round pick in 2020 who started nine games last year), Charvarius Ward (who allowed a passer rating of 103.1 in his coverage area last year), and Mike Hughes (a former first-round pick that the Vikings gave up on after four injury-plagued years) the best of what’s around.
Beckham seemed destined for Canton after his first three NFL seasons, with over 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns each year. But he hasn’t replicated that success since suffering a series of injuries to his left ankle in 2017. Beckham has missed 25 games in the last four years, including the last nine in 2020.
Beckham had his knee repaired surgically in November. The average return to action for such a procedure is nearly 11 months, meaning he would have a faster-than-expected recovery should he play Sunday.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s fantasy outlook and analysis for Week 1
Fantasy analysis provided by PFN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Eric Moody.
Beckham’s statistical production over the last two seasons has been underwhelming. He’s only averaged 7.7 targets and 12.6 PPR fantasy points per game in 23 active games. It’s a far cry from the 10.5 targets and 20.7 PPR fantasy points per game Beckham averaged from 2014 to 2018.
Last season, Beckham never seemed calibrated with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. That will change in 2021. Multiple reports suggest that Beckham and Mayfield have worked extensively together this offseason. That work will be on display in Week 1 against the Chiefs in what many predict to be a high-scoring affair. Beckham is likely to line up across from Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes a high percentage of offensive snaps. This is a very favorable matchup for him. Beckham is firmly on the WR2 radar this week.