Pro Football Focus unveiled their 2019 fantasy projections on Thursday and they came in low on Cleveland Browns stars Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham, Jr.
Coming off his impressive rookie season, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is aiming for more in 2019. He started to really come on strong as the season came to a close and even broke the record for touchdown passes by a rookie.
Many are projecting even more out of him this season, and not simply because he has a full season under his belt in the pros. Instead, it’s the fact that he now has a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver to work with after the team landed Odell Beckham, Jr. from the New York Giants.
As for OBJ, he’s also going from a quarterback who has been struggling in Eli Manning, to a much younger — and more accurate deep ball passer. The match seems perfect for both players and should result in great numbers.
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However, the people at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) don’t necessarily agree. On Thursday, the analytical site released their 2019 fantasy projections and while neither Baker or OBJ came in ranked poorly, neither were as high as anticipated.
First up was Mayfield, who was the 15th ranked passer. According to Jeff Ratcliffe of PFF, this seems to be their expectation of a sophomore slump as they think he will regress in touchdown passes and completion percentage.
"“One other player to note at quarterback is Baker Mayfield. Some may be surprised to see him come in at just 15th among quarterbacks. Mayfield has been widely drafted inside the top 10 quarterbacks in best ball drafts this offseason, but our number suggest he may be a bit overvalued. Touchdown regress plus a slight decline in completion percentage due to an anticipated increase in average depth of target are the biggest factors.” — Ratcliffe, PFF"
As for Beckham, they had him at No. 7, simply saying he comes in lower than expected — and they tie this to the projection on Mayfield.
"“You may have heard that Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to Cleveland this offseason. Beckham steps into an appealing situation with an ascending Mayfield. However, our numbers have Beckham at No. 7.” — Ratcliffe, PFF"
While a sophomore slump isn’t impossible, it seems highly unlikely. Mayfield put together his impressive rookie season despite being held back by head coach Hue Jackson for the entire offseason. Jackson also tried to keep Baker on the bench and refused to let him work with the first team.
Mayfield still played well, but we really saw him break out once Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired. With Gregg Williams as the coach and Freddie Kitchens calling plays that better suited Mayfield, he became one of the hottest names in the entire NFL.
Entering 2019, he now is the unquestioned starter and Kitchens is his head coach — and we already saw how well he and Kitchens worked together.
As for Beckham, he’s an absolute monster on the field when healthy and as long as Mayfield is on the field he is going to put up numbers that have him ranked amongst the best in the game.
In the end, the PFF rankings feel too low. It would probably be a good idea to ignore these when building your teams this season.
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