Overvalued Assets: Odell Beckham
LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been moving up the chart on numerous mock drafts and doesn’t appear to be slowing. ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay bumped the talented Tiger receiver another few notches in their latest mock drafts 5.0. Kiper pushed Beckham into the top 10 where he says the Detroit Lions will snag OBJ with the No. 10 pick and pair him with Megatron, aka All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson. – Jim Kleinpeter, nola.com
This sentiment is not just limited to the talking heads on ESPN. While #DraftTwitter loves to mock Kiper and McShay for some of their truly awful opinions, this is a trend that seemingly all Draftniks have bought in too. This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive post, but this is just another example of some unwarranted and arbitrary hype being generously donated to a good, not great, player and therefore inflating his price for dynasty rookie drafts. Much like Sammy Watkins, much of the praise for Beckham is seemingly arbitrary.
— Jon Moore (@TheCFX) February 10, 2014
By this point, Rotoviz subs should be familiar with this awesome statistic that Jon was able to find. The exact predictive value is unkown, but it’s a horrid accomplishment in any case. If Beckham was so amazing, wouldn’t he make some sort of impact against the best defenses in the country? This is what Beckham did versus the SEC last season.
I mean… raw statistics aren’t the be all end all, but in most of these games teammate Jarvis Landry significantly outproduced him, and those 2 touchdowns in garbage time versus Mississippi State were the only times he scored versus his conference all year. Does a player that performed like Beckham seem like a guy who is ready to fulfill the duties of a first round draft pick? He wasn’t in the top 10 yards from scrimmage in the entire conference and his production was dwarfed by guys like Jordan Matthews, yet NFL teams and fantasy writers are talking about him like a significantly valuable asset.
Let’s look at some of his physical comps, to see if maybe that will help understand the hype.
|Year||Name||College||Height||Weight||40 Yard||Vert Leap (in)||Broad Jump (in)||Shuttle||3Cone||Agility Score|
|2014||Odell Beckham||Louisiana State||71||198||4.43||38.5||122||3.94||6.69||10.63|
|2008||Kenneth Moore||Wake Forest||71||195||4.47||28||120||4.3||7.09||11.39|
|2010||Golden Tate||Notre Dame||70||199||4.42||35||120||4.34||7.12||11.46|
|2006||Greg Jennings||Western Michigan||71||197||4.42||36.5||117||4.18||6.69||10.87|
|2012||Chris Givens||Wake Forest||71||198||4.35||33.5||118||4.23||6.97||11.2|
Not bad at all! Greg Jennings, Golden Tate, Kendall Wright, Andre Roberts and Lee Evans are (or were) all ownable fantasy assets at some point in their careers. Now, they are all basically anti-Rotovizian in that a majority of their success came from an amazing QB player (Jennings) or an unrealistic target volume (Kendall Wright). Still, those are solid comps that performed at the NFL level. The question we are now forced to ask: did those players have such a drastic impact on their offenses that they were worth a 1st round draft pick?
Look at how these players performed when thrown at. This table shows cumulative data since 2006, and comes from our AYA App.
|Palmer, Skelton||Andre Roberts||220||121||1400||6.4||6||9||4.6|
|Hasselbeck, Jackson, Wilson||Golden Tate||253||157||2142||8.5||15||5||7.9|
|Rodgers, Ponder||Greg Jennings||579||349||5260||9.1||38||19||6.4|
|Fitzpatrick, Locker, Hasselbeck||Kendall Wright||241||156||1700||7.1||6||5||6.6|
I’m willing to give Roberts a pass due to horrible quarterbacking play, but Kendall Wright was a capital-D Drain on the Titans offense, and players like James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson (of course) and even Jermicheal Finely were just as, or more, productive than Jennings in the Green Bay offense. So, again, the mass media is talking about Beckham like a top 15 pick in the NFL draft, despite a mountain of evidence that he isn’t going to help his team score points.
Finally, lets compare Beckham to his 2 most successful comps, Jennings and Tate.
*note our dataset picks up in 2006, so Jennings only has one season shown.
Confused? Me too. Tate posted an elite DR of .44, with 2 seasons of above average RZ conversion rates (especially from a smaller WR). Jennings absolutely dominated in his last season at Western Michigan with an elite RZ conversion rate and truly awesome .465 Dominator Ratings. Beckham, on the other hand, had 2 seasons of converting ZERO Red Zone looks into touchdowns and topped out at .35 DR. So, in terms of production, these players aren’t really comparable at all, unless you want to discount Jennings’ production for taking place in a smaller conference.
ODB Isn’t For The Kids… He’s for the Second Round
Beckham is fun! He played at a fun school and has some awesome leaping catches and game watchers say stuff like “oh man, he is gonna catch lots of first downs at the next level” but I’m going to advise Rotoviz subscribers to do the same thing I advised with Sammy Watkins: take advantage of the hype. Rather than fighting with your leaguemates about whether he is overvalued, realize that your 1.05 rookie draft pick is WAY more valuable than previously imagined. Beckham’s comps have rarely posted WR1 seasons (and when Jennings did it, he had the best quarterback in the NFL) and honestly, he isn’t even quite on their level as a prospect due to posting a weak final season DR. In what seems to be a continuing series of me being a negative Nancy, I will leave you with advice: the mainstream analysts are not always wrong but sometimes the most helpful thing you can do as a fantasy player is ask “Why?”