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ADP Showdown - Odell Beckham vs Antonio Brown


Picture this, it's the beginning of September and you've just started your 2019 fantasy football draft. It's the middle of the second round, and you're looking to target a wide receiver. Two players you can look to find there are Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns and Antonio Brown of the Oakland Raiders. These two have been at the top of the wide receiver chart for the last five years, but who should you be looking to take this year?

Both players changed teams this offseason, and they'll both be hoping to make their previous teams look foolish for letting them go. Beckham is paired with a budding star quarterback in Baker Mayfield while Brown will be lining up with quarterback Derek Carr, who is just two seasons removed from a borderline-MVP level campaign. Both figure to be major focal points of their offense, but they could put up very different stat lines at the end of the year.

Currently, they are WR5 & 6 on the board. They have an ADP of 2.3 and 2.5 with Beckham getting the slight nod over Brown. They both have a strong case to be drafted as your first or second wide receiver, but who should take if you are faced with this decision? Let's take a look.

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The Case for Beckham

Beckham is a younger and a more explosive talent in an offense that figures to be miles better than the one the Raiders trot out. After firing Hue Jackson ahead of Week 9, the offense under Mayfield became more dynamic and passing based than it was with Jackson in charge. The Browns had four games with less than 200 passing yards during the first eight games, but they had just one after Jackson was fired, in a game they still ended up winning. Meanwhile, the Raiders finished with less than 200 passing yards against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that gave up over 365 yards per game through the air last season.

When healthy, Beckham has been one of the best players in the game. Outside of his injury-shortened 2017 season, he has finished with at least 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in every season of his career. In his first three seasons, he totaled at least 10 touchdowns in every season. Beckham was the opposing team's main focus when he was with the New York Giants, but he was able to make plays regardless of that due to his elite talent. In Cleveland, he'll be playing alongside another Pro Bowler in teammate/best friend Jarvis Landry and a breakout candidate at running back in Nick Chubb.

The major issue for Beckham in his career has been health and attitude. This year, he'll be playing in an offense that should feature him heavily, and he'll be given plenty of opportunities to be the leading receiver. When targeted well, he catches the ball, and he had a better catch percentage than Brown had last season. The only reason Brown outpaced him in certain counting stats came to volume, as Brown had 44 more targets than Beckham did. At his ADP, after being a first-round lock for three years, Beckham is a great grab.

 

The Case for Brown

Over the last six years, Brown has been the best wide receiver in football. In that stretch, he has 686 catches for 9.145 yards and 67 touchdowns. That has been one of the most dominant stretches in NFL history. Now, he's going to a team where he'll be the unquestioned number one receiver for a quarterback that has shown the ability to lead a team to a great season. What changed in the past six months to think that Beckham is the better player?

One of Brown's best skills is his ability to make catches despite close coverage. He averaged just 2.6 yards of separation per catch last season, yet he still had over 100 catches for over 1200 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last season, the Raiders were trotting out Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts following Amari Cooper being traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Neither of those two options can make contested catches the way that Brown does. Carr's windows will be significantly easier to hit if Brown is the one catching the ball.

If this were dynasty drafting, it would be a much different battle as Brown would likely be going at least a full round later. This isn't though, and Brown is still at the height of his athletic prowess with the ability to leave any defensive back standing still with a slight shift. He's likely going to be force-fed the ball while Beckham has to scrap for targets. By volume alone, he should continue to repeat his numbers.

 

The Verdict

They're being taken just two spots away from each other, so you can take either one without feeling you wasted the pick by not taking the other. Beckham and the Browns offense is sure to be a match made in heaven. Mayfield has the arm to make any throw, and Landry is immediately the best wide receiver that he has played next to since he entered the NFL. He should finish with a strong and efficient season this year if all goes to plan.

On the other side, Brown is going to see plenty of targets. As long as he stays healthy, he is going to lead the team in targets, and he should hit at least the 150 mark for the seventh straight season. Meanwhile, Beckham could be in a similar range to the 124 that he had last year. If Carr can bounce back to his previous form, he could help make Brown a steal at his current ADP. The problem though comes down to coaching and offense, and it looks like the Browns and Beckham are going to handily win that battle this year which gives Beckham the edge in that category.

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