2020 Fantasy Preview: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens were a powerhouse team in 2019. They finished with a 14-2 record and easily secured the number one seed in the AFC for the playoffs. Unfortunately for Baltimore and their fans, we saw Derrick Henry and the Titans come into town and grind out a win in the playoffs. As a team, they were first or second in the NFL in points, first downs, total yards, and rushing yards on offense. Quarterback Lamar Jackson won the MVP trophy and Baltimore had multiple fantasy-friendly options to rely on. On defense, the Ravens were a top-four unit in both points allowed and yards allowed. However, they were just a middle of the road defense in terms of interceptions percentage and sack percentage, finishing 11th and 19th respectively.
Taking a look at 2020, the Ravens lose future Hall of Famer Marshall Yanda at right guard to retirement. Replacing Yanda will be key for the Ravens and Jackson as he had the eighth-best sack percentage and clean-pocket percentage in the league in 2019. In terms of playmakers, Jackson loses backup tight end Hayden Hurst and rotational receiver Seth Roberts, the pair accounted for about 17.5% of Jackson’s targets in 2019. The Ravens drafted two wide receivers and a dynamic running back to help supplement their weapons on offense. They also should have a fully healthy second-year wide receiver Marquise Brown in 2020 after he battled a myriad of lower-body injuries throughout the 2019 season. We know the Ravens will run the ball early and often this season as they led the league in attempts in 2019 and were last in passing attempts. There’s no doubt that this offense is lined up to be a top-five unit again in 2020.
ADP: 20.4, QB2
Lamar Jackson finished 2019 as the number-two overall fantasy scorer and the QB1 by over six points per game. He led the league in passing touchdowns and had over 1,200 rushing yards on his way to the MVP award. He didn’t throw the ball a ton (Ravens were dead last in pass attempts as a team) but when he did he was very efficient. He ranked second in true passer rating and sixth in accuracy rating according to FantasyData. Jackson finished first or second in all of the major rushing categories, but what really ties his profile together is his downfield throwing. He was fifth in adjusted yards per attempt (8.4) and seventh in distance on his deep-ball attempts. In 2019, Jackson ran the ball a lot (led all QB’s), pushed the ball downfield when he did throw it, and was efficient in the red-zone leading to his 36 passing touchdowns.
We know the Ravens are going to run the ball and run it a lot. A big question for this 2020 season will be whether they can stay efficient enough in the passing game to compliment that elite running game. Jackson led the league in passing touchdowns and was top-ten in yards per attempt a year ago but was only 26th in passing attempts for the season. The Ravens have a great team and shouldn’t be trailing much in games. It should be expected that Jackson is outside the top-20 in pass attempts again this season. We can assume that he will lead all quarterbacks in rushing attempts again as he had an absurd 11+ per game in 2019. He ran the ball 67 more times than the second-place quarterback, while also playing one less game (rest). There is no doubt that Jackson should be the QB1 or QB2 off the board in fantasy football drafts this season.
Jackson can build off the strides he took throwing in 2019 while maintaining his elite rushing ability and volume. One of the two rookie receivers steps up to create another weapon apart from Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. The offensive line molds together quickly to replace the veteran Yanda at guard. Jackson posts QB1 numbers again and is a top-five overall fantasy contributor on his way to back-to-back MVP awards.
With the limited offseason, Jackson and the new receivers can’t develop chemistry. Jackson or his key pieces battle injuries throughout this year leading to a good, but not a great year from this whole offense.
2020 Projection: 430 attempts, 288 completions, 3,400 yards, 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions; 164 carries, 1,008 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 fumbles
ADP: 47.9, RB26
Mark Ingram thrived sharing the backfield with Lamar Jackson in 2019. He had a crisp 5.0 yards per rushing attempt in an offense that ran the ball more than any other team in the league. He was also top-ten at the position in touchdowns, yards per touch, fantasy points per game, and evaded tackles. Not bad for a 30-year-old running back. The Ravens did invest second-round draft capital into J.K. Dobbins, a dynamic running back out of Ohio State. With the lack of a proper offseason, it will be tough for Dobbins to carve a significant role at the beginning of the season on a team poised to win now. Backups Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill combined for 206 touches last season. It is easy to envision Dobbins splitting backup work with those two to start the year and then him taking more work as the season progresses. Ingram can expect touchdown regression in the receiving game as he had five scores on only 26 receptions in 2019. He likely won’t be an RB1 again this year due to some receiving regression but is a rock-solid draft value who should put up consistent RB2 numbers in the run-heaviest, highest-scoring offense. He is great value in my opinion and I would be thrilled to have him as my RB3, where he currently is being drafted.
The best-case scenario for Ingram is that Dobbins is slow developing and is fighting for backup work most of the year. The Ravens continue to be one of the run-heaviest offenses in the league (37 rushes per game as a team in 2019) and their offensive line continues its high-quality work.
Ingram gets totally eliminated from the passing game with the emergence of Dobbins and the mobile quarterback factor. He then cedes some rushing work to all three of Dobbins, Hill, and Edwards and this becomes a messy four-man committee with Ingram logging 8-12 touches per game instead of the 15+ he did a year ago.
2020 Projection: 180 rush attempts, 882 yards, 9 touchdowns, 2 fumbles; 28 targets, 24 receptions, 192 yards, 2 touchdowns
ADP: 74, RB32
This Covid-19 dominated offseason is no doubt a hindrance for the 2020 rookie class as they have to rely on zoom meetings to interact with their coaches while trying to make a positive impression. The Ravens already have a crowded backfield with incumbents Ingram, Edwards, and Hill. I would expect Ingram to resume his lead role, early on especially, and to see J.K. Dobbins mixing in with the other two backups. Dobbins was drafted as a big value for the Ravens instead of a need so it will be interesting to see how he is utilized and if he can dethrone Ingram as the season progresses. If Dobbins can take over the lead role he will be a weekly RB2 for sure with his passing ceiling capped by the Ravens lack of passing attempts to their running backs. In 2019, the Ravens were last in the league in passes to their backfield, and that may not change with Jackson at quarterback. Dobbins seems like a much better dynasty asset than redraft at the moment. But, he is only an injury away from being the potential lead back in the leagues most run-heavy offense, and there is certainly value in that. However, his draft price seems a bit steep for me at the moment. I love the talent, but he is being drafted as an RB3 and we have no idea what kind of role he is going to have on this team right now.
Ingram’s age catches up to him or he is hampered by injuries and Dobbins steps into the lead back role in this offense. A non-injury scenario would be Dobbins stepping in immediately to play the passing downs and overtaking Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to make this a two-man backfield.
The lack of a true offseason program hurts the rookie and he gets the Justice Hill treatment from 2019. He becomes largely an afterthought this season playing behind Ingram and Gus Edwards/Justice Hill.
2020 Projection: 120 rush attempts, 564 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 fumble; 26 targets, 22 receptions, 195 yards, 2 touchdowns
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown
ADP: 67.1, WR27
Marquise Brown comes into 2020 as the clear number one wide receiver and the number two option in the passing game behind tight end Mark Andrews. Brown dealt with a variety of injuries last year; he had a Lisfranc foot injury coming into the season that lingered, followed by an ankle sprain and a thigh strain in the middle of the year. He flashed for some big plays at various points in the year but never seemed to put it all together consistently. One can make a convincing argument that we didn’t see the best of Brown. He was hampered by injuries all season, evidenced by the fact that he only played on 59% of the snaps in 2019. He did show what he can do with a full complement of snaps in the playoffs, however, hauling in seven receptions on a team-high 11 targets for 126 yards. Brown should be closer to a full-time player in 2020 but could be subbed out for larger running formations to get better blockers in there. He pairs up well with Lamar Jackson’s deep-shot skillset ranking eighth in fantasy points per pass route. I like Brown this season, he is being drafted as a high-end WR3 right now and could be in line for increased production with a boost in playing time and if his health holds up.
Brown becomes the 1A to Andrews’s 1B and consistently performs on the level that he did in the playoff game against the Titans. He pushes for a 1,000-yard season and is a consistent WR 2 in fantasy leagues.
The run-first nature of this offense overshadows Brown and he becomes a distant second option to Andrews. The rookie wide receivers perform well and start taking chunks out of his target share and then he is a risky WR3/4 on a week to week basis.
2020 Projection: 94 targets, 67 receptions, 890 yards, 6 touchdowns
ADP: 196, WR 85
ADP: 207, WR 93
ADP: 245, WR 113
ADP: WR 150+
These receivers will be fighting for a distant third/fourth/fifth in terms of options in the passing game. Unfortunately, they are on the team that passes the least in the NFL. Snead was third on the team in team target percentage and he was only at about 10%. Boykin is being drafted as a WR7 right now and these guys can mostly go undrafted or be a late, late dart throw if you want to take a shot on a breakout. They are worth keeping an eye on, however, because there is talent here with two slot-type rookies in Duvernay/Proche and the tools of Miles Boykin (check out his player profile). Keep an eye on snap percentages and targets through the start of the season for these four.
An injury opens up a significant role in the passing game for one of these four receivers.
The four wide receivers cannibalize each other’s targets or are on the field hardly at all, making them only a stash in dynasty leagues.
ADP: 40, TE3
Mark Andrews broke out in a big way in 2019, almost doubling both his targets and receptions from 2018 and more than tripling his touchdown total. He finished 2019 as the TE5 (tied for 4th in PPG) and that was despite popping up with four different injuries throughout the year. He battled through knee, ankle, and foot sprains, as well as a knee contusion. He was top-five at the position in receptions, receiving yards, and led the group in touchdowns with 10. All of the underlying stats back up his performance too. He was third in percentage of team target share, third in yards per route, first in end zone targets, and first in deep targets at the tight end position. Shockingly, Andrews only played on 43% of the snaps despite all of the production that he had. It’s easy to see a scenario where he is healthy, playing more snaps and repeating or improving his stats from 2019. I have no issue where Andrews is being drafted and hope that the injury bug can stay away from him this season.
Remains the most consistent and reliable top option for Jackson in this high-powered offense. Andrews plays 75% or more of the snaps, goes over 1,000 yards, and finishes as the number one tight end this season.
The injuries from last year wear Andrews down and the receivers/running backs take on a larger role in this offense. Leaving Andrews as a productive but volatile TE1/2.
2020 Projection: 105 targets, 67 receptions, 900 yards, 8 touchdowns
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)