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Fantasy Sports Fantasy Football

2014 Fantasy Football Sleeper Candidate: Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham Jr.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I was thrilled with the New York Giants drafting WR Odell Beckham in this year’s draft. The LSU Tigers product impressed me thoroughly with his physical traits and combine results, and fills the void that Hakeem Nicks has left. Beckham stands at a meager 5-foot-11, but makes up for his vertical reach with his elusive and agile play style.

Among his position in the combine this year, Beckham was tops in both the 20 and 60 yard shuttle. He’s quick on his feet, and is able to create after the catch, not just a lame duck once he catches the ball. His agility also allows him to be a highly proficient route runner, much in the same way Nicks was a good route runner for Eli Manning, being able to draw targets in most situations.

When Nicks was healthy, he was putting up top 15 season performances. Even in his rookie season in 2009, he was a top 30 fantasy option at WR, and that was with his sub-par speed and lack of experience. Beckham only has one of those weakness and has nearly the same vertical reach as Nicks (when accounting for vertical jump and arm length). That weakness is his inexperience, but he’s a three year starter for a top-tier college system that should be able to transition well to the NFL.

In his three seasons with the Tigers, Beckham was able to bookend each season with at least a pair of touchdowns and 40 receptions. Those are good numbers considering two of the seasons were his freshman and sophomore seasons. His junior season, however, he reeled in over 80 catches and hauled in eight touchdowns. That’s an impressive resume, and certainly gained the Giants attention. But Beckham was capturing NFL teams’ attention even in his sophomore season.

As a sophomore, Beckham led the NCAA in punt returns, and took two of his 35 returns to the house. He’s a threat all over the field, vertically or horizontally, providing many options for the Giants. That should get fantasy owners excited, because he’s not just a receiving threat, but an athlete that can be used in a multitude of ways.

However, one should note that injuries are a concern with him. Beckham has missed four consecutive exhibition games, and according to Pro Football Reference, is doubtful for the season opener versus the Detroit Lions. The Giants have also been struggling to piece together new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo‘s offense this preseason. That’s a concern because it shows that even veterans are struggling to run the offensive with ease. So a rookie with no game experience may take time to develop.

But Beckham should be a worthy pick you can stash and reap the benefits in the latter-half of the season if he stays healthy. The Giants typically get off to poor starts as of late, but finish strong. Beckham will likely follow suit as he gains more experience, but is certainly worth picking off waivers (which he’s available in 92 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues).