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Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch
By Mike Beacom

Rookie Watch – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

No one can say the Giants have not surrounded Eli Manning with enough talent. Since entering the league as the top pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, Manning has been gifted with eight receivers drafted in the top three rounds (and the list does not include Victor Cruz). This May, New York used its first round pick on Odell Beckham, who joins Hakeem Nicks, Ike Hilliard, Thomas Lewis and Mark Ingram as the only first round receivers in franchise history.

Beckham joins a passing game that has ranked in the bottom half of the league in attempts in each of the past two seasons. And Manning is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. Nonetheless, people still see this as one of the NFL’s better passing attacks, when healthy.

Dissecting the depth chart: The Giants have a No. 1 receiver in Cruz, and are betting on Reuben Randle to emerge as a No. 2. Last year Randle was stuck behind the oft-injured Nicks who was discarded this offseason. Randle caught 41 passes in 2013 and led the team with six touchdowns. He’ll be given every opportunity to secure the other starting job opposite Cruz. Jerrel Jernigan has caught just 32 balls in three seasons – this is a make-or-break year for him. New York also picked up Mario Manningham, whose sideline grab from the last Super Bowl is still held in the hearts of the team’s fans.

Just the stats: Beckham was a steady performer in his three seasons at LSU. He caught 143 balls over that span – never fewer than 40 in a season – and his yards per catch rose each year, up to an impressive 19.5 in 2013. The only thing scary that stands out is that a big chunk of Beckham’s numbers came against LSU’s weakest foes (Furman, Mississippi State, UAB). In four games against Alabama he caught 14 passes for 169 yards and no touchdowns.

2014 Projection: 43 receptions, 596 yards, 4 TDs.

2013 rookie comparison: Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
The difference, of course, is that Woods walked into a rebuilding passing attack and Beckham will inherit a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and solid supporting cast. However, there are plenty of similarities, namely size and style. Woods is a candidate to breakout in his second season, which is where Beckham will most likely burst. What Woods did in his first season (40 catches for 583 yards and three touchdowns) is what fantasy owners can expect from Beckham.

Interesting fact that won’t help you: Beckham attended the same high school - Isidore Newman – as all three Manning brothers. Only he and Cooper Manning have logged 1,000 receiving yards in a season for the school.

What he’s worth: Hmmm, probably not worth a pick in most leagues. Fantasy owners like prospects with upside, and Beckham has plenty of that, but Manning’s erratic play last year packaged with the fact that Beckham is probably the odd man out in the depth chart suggest he’s waiver wire fodder at best right now. Someone for dynasty leaguers or big dreamers.

Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom
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