Odell Beckham Jr. Signing: Fantasy Impact for Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, and Rashod Bateman

The Baltimore Ravens are still trying to figure out the whole Lamar Jackson situation. In the meantime, they’re working on solving their ever-present wide receiver issue. Let’s examine the fantasy football impact of Odell Beckham Jr. signing with the Ravens on players like Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman, and the rest of the Baltimore offense.

Odell Beckham Jr. Signs a One-Year Deal With the Baltimore Ravens

While many families were wrapping up their Easter festivities, Beckham’s agent was hard at work trying to get his client a job. Early Sunday evening, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that Beckham agreed to a one-year deal with the Ravens.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero clarified the terms of the agreement. Beckham will receive $15 million guaranteed with an additional $3 million in incentives.

There’s no denying Beckham is one of the most gifted receivers of the past decade, but that’s a hefty sum for a 30-year-old wide receiver with a twice-torn left ACL and several other previous injuries, who hasn’t played football since two Super Bowls ago.

With that said, when we last saw Beckham, he still looked like a guy capable of playing football at a high level. Given that no teams were willing to sign the veteran playmaker last season, we can be reasonably confident that the Ravens did more than their fair share of due diligence to ensure Beckham’s knee is fully recovered.

The former New York Giants star is the quintessential Ravens wide receiver signing. Every prominent free agent wide receiver Baltimore has ever signed — from Derrick Mason to Anquan Boldin to Steve Smith Sr. to Mike Wallace — has fit the exact same criteria: past his prime, but not quite done. Each one of those players was over 30 when signing with the Ravens. Add Beckham’s name to the list.

From a fantasy perspective, Beckham is still capable of being a relevant asset in the right environment. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is it.

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Similar to how DJ Moore’s arrival in the Windy City helps Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears offense more than it helps Moore’s fantasy value, Beckham will be a great addition to the Ravens but probably not to fantasy rosters. His presence will help Jackson and the passing game, but this isn’t a great landing spot for Beckham with regard to his ability to be a high-impact fantasy player.

On the Ravens, Beckham slots in as the team’s WR2 opposite Bateman. But he’s third in the target hierarchy behind Andrews as well. We have never seen Jackson support more than two fantasy-relevant pass catchers. The passing volume just isn’t there.

The Ravens were the third-most run-heavy team last season (50%). Jackson averaged just 27 pass attempts per game. Since 2019, the team’s star QB has averaged 30.6 pass attempts per game.

Even if we take that number, which is more than three attempts greater per game than last season, and assume Beckham can earn a 20% target share, we’re still looking at around six targets per game.

Beckham posted low-end WR3 numbers in 2019 and 2020, and he averaged about 11 fantasy points per game with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021.

It’s been five years since Beckham was a WR1, and it’s been three years since he was even a WR3. Now, on a run-first Ravens offense, after missing all of last season, it would be a major upset if Beckham was anything more than a WR4.

How Beckham Impacts the Rest of Baltimore’s Offense

As you may have gathered, I’m writing this article under the presumption that Jackson is not going anywhere. It goes without saying that if the unthinkable happens, we’ll have to reevaluate everything about this offense.

QB Lamar Jackson

Assuming the Ravens and Jackson work things out, signing Beckham undoubtedly benefits Jackson the most.

Obviously, the former MVP’s fantasy value stems from his rushing prowess, but he’s really suffered from a lack of receiving talent. Last season, it was just Bateman and Andrews. Then Bateman got hurt, and it mattered much more than you may realize.

Jackson played 12 games last year before a knee injury ended his season prematurely. He had a healthy Bateman for six of them. In those six games, Jackson averaged 26.6 ppg. In the six without Bateman, that number fell to 17 ppg.

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Do I think Bateman is the key to Jackson’s success? No. But how can we expect him to excel throwing to Demarcus Robinson, Devin Duvernay, and Sammy Watkins?

Bateman and Beckham are nowhere near the top wide receiver duo in the NFL. But they’re both starting-caliber NFL receivers, which is more than we can say about the guys Jackson was throwing to last year.

Jackson’s past two years have left a sour taste in the mouths of many fantasy managers. Justifiably so. But I’m slowly warming back up to him from a fantasy perspective, especially heading into a season where the elite quarterbacks may have higher ADPs than they’ve had as a group since 2012.

TE Mark Andrews

For an offense like the Ravens’, targets are a zero-sum game. Baltimore isn’t suddenly going to throw the ball more because they have Beckham. He’s an upgrade on what they previously had, but it’s not like they just signed 2015 Beckham. The more players that command targets, the fewer targets there are to go around. With that said, Beckham’s targets aren’t coming from Andrews’ pie.

Andrews has led all tight ends in target share for two straight seasons, and his target share has increased every year of his career, topping out at 29% last season.

While that number is almost certain to drop, it would be a shock if Andrews’ target share dipped below 25% anytime soon. He was at 24.1% in his breakout 2019 season. He should be around 25-28% for as long as he remains good at football. Andrews will be 28 years old this season — that time is not coming soon. The former first-team All-Pro remains the second-best tight end in fantasy football.

WR Rashod Bateman

There’s no question as to who the Ravens’ WR1 is — it’s Bateman. But, in theory, if anyone is going to take a hit due to Beckham’s arrival, it’s also Bateman.

Even so, I don’t think this warrants much of a downgrade — if any at all. The most likely impact is going to be on consistency, rather than overall production.

There will be games where Bateman dominates targets and games where Beckham dominates targets. Logic dictates that the scale will tip toward Bateman rather than Beckham, but the veteran’s mere presence as a quality alternative will result in weeks where Bateman just doesn’t really do anything.

It’s also worth noting that Bateman has yet to be used as an every-down player. As the presumptive WR1 last season, he never topped a 66% snap share in a single game. That’s unheard of for a team’s WR1. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Beckham out there at times as the lone wide receiver in 12- or 13-personnel.

Bateman is still the guy to roster from this WR corps, and Beckham’s targets will likely come from a consolidation of the band of misfits the Ravens deployed last year rather than from Bateman. But Beckham’s presence does cap Bateman’s ceiling a bit. Consider the 2021 first-round pick a solid, floor-based WR3 for now.

RBs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards

Given that these two guys will both be drafted in fantasy leagues this season, they’re worth mentioning.

The Ravens don’t throw to their running backs. Last season, Baltimore RBs combined for a 13.6% target share, the third-lowest rate in the league. In 2021, it was 11.8%, the lowest rate in the league. In 2020, it was 13% (fourth-lowest).

The only meaningful impact Beckham may have on J.K. Dobbins or Gus Edwards is that his overall positive impact on the offense could result in more scoring opportunities. Otherwise, this duo’s values remain the same.

WRs Nelson Agholor and Devin Duvernay

Prior to signing Beckham, the Ravens signed another veteran wideout — Nelson Agholor. They also have Devin Duvernay, who served as the team’s WR2 last season. One of these guys will be the team’s WR3, and the other the WR4.

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Unless Bateman or Beckham gets hurt, neither Agholor nor Duvernay will matter in fantasy, and neither should be drafted.

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