Kickoff: Sunday, September 25th, 1:00 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro Massachusetts
Betting Odds: NE +3, 43.5 total via oddshark.com
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@TheDunit13 on Twitter)
Lamar Jackson (Start, QB1)
Lamar Jackson looked reminiscent of his 2019 MVP season in Week 2. He threw for 3 touchdowns for the second time in 2022 but rushed for 119 yards on nine attempts and added a score. It is what you want to see from the Ravens quarterback. He will be in everyone’s lineup in Week 3 against the Patriots, but it’s not as easy of a matchup as it was in Week 2. Lamar gets the Patriot’s defense that PFF.com rates above the Dolphins in both run defense and coverage. The good news is though they are rated higher they aren’t considered elite in coverage. PPF rated the Patriots run defense at 69.2 and their coverage defense at 53.1.
I don’t expect Lamar to get as many rushing yards as he did in week 2 but he should be able to carve up the secondary. The numbers against the Patriots’ secondary look great but to me are fools’ gold. They are 26th in points allowed to the QB position and haven’t given up more than one passing touchdown in each of the past two games but that was against a Dolphins team still finding its groove in Week 1 and Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers in week 2. This will be the best passing offense they have faced so far this season. With J.K. Dobbins hopefully making his season debut in Week 3, Lamar will have the balance that has been missing. He should be in the QB1 range.
J.K. Dobbins (Start, Flex), Kenyan Drake (Sit)
I’m believing that J.K. Dobbins will be back in week 3. The Ravens want to deploy a single-back system where one guy gets the bulk of the carries. Dobbins will be the guy when he is playing. He faces the 5th ranked run defense based on PFF.com’s ratings, so it will be a tough matchup for his first game back and the Ravens look to be a pass-first team. The hope is that Dobbins can be involved in the passing game which will add some value to him for fantasy. Dobbins may also lose red zone work to Mike Davis who is the bigger back, as Davis took the red zone work away from Kenyan Drake in Week 2. If Dobbins can’t go I think you have to still sit Drake. He is only averaging 2.29 yards per carrying and had an embarrassing Week 2 where he saw six carries and only had eight yards. That was against PFF’s 8th-ranked run defense which also allowed Lamar Jackson to rush for 119 yards.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Rashod Bateman (Start, WR2), Devin Duvernay (Start, WR3), Mark Andrews (Start, TE1), Isaiah Likely (Sit, TE2)
The Patriots come into the game as the 26th-ranked coverage defense. It’s a good sign for the Baltimore pass-catching weapons. The team is still led by tight end Mark Andrews, who saw 11 targets in Week 2, which was the most on the team. Second-year wideout Rashod Bateman has scored in both games this year which has raised his fantasy floor. The Patriots are allowing 19.85 points to the wide receiver position so Bateman can still be put on your roster as a wide receiver for your fantasy team. After posting two touchdowns in Week 1 and then returning the opening kickoff for a score in Week 2, I’m not recommending that you start Devin Duvernay. Unless you are in a league where you get points for return yards you are banking on a player with low volume to score a touchdown. He has only seen six targets on the year and only had two last week. He played on 31 of the 58 team snaps and ran routes on 17 of his 19 passing snaps. He’s only worth rostering in case of an injury to Bateman or Andrews. He is also dealing with a concussion so he may not play at all.
It does seem that there is another tight end to know in Baltimore. Isaiah Likely was involved in the passing game in Week 2. He saw five targets and ran routes on eight of his 16 passing snaps. It’s a small volume right now, but for a guy who flashed in the preseason, it’s signs of things to come. Lamar Jackson was the NFL MVP in 2019 when the Ravens employed a two-tight end system and it looks like they are returning this year. Likely is someone worth monitoring.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Start, QB2)
If ever there was a week for Mac Jones to shine it will be against the Ravens. They are allowing the second most points to the quarterback position with 26.61. PFF ranks them at 56.3 which puts them way down the list at 25th overall. The Raven’s secondary has struggled with injuries. Marlon Humphrey played the most snaps in Week 2, playing on 56 of the team’s 71 snaps. They have rotated players in and out of the secondary which allowed a historic day for Tua Tagovailoa. I’m not calling for Mac Jones to have that sort of day because he lacks the weapons that Tua has but Jones should come close to having a career day which would be around 310 yards and 3 touchdowns. It’s the type of matchup that fantasy managers who have been holding Mac Jones have been waiting for. It’s been a sub-standard year so far with only 1 touchdown and 1 interception each week for Jones. The game script should play into Jones’s favor as they don’t look to be ahead and passing should always be part of the play calls. If Jones can’t do it in Week 3 it might be time to move on from him.
Damien Harris (Start, RB2), Rhamondre Stevenson (Start, Flex)
It’s been a saying in fantasy for a while now: never trust the Patriots’ backfield. People thought maybe this year we would get clarity, but we did not. Damien Harris leads the team in carries with 15 and scored a touchdown on the ground. He is the only running back to get any sort of red zone work. All of those are great signs for his production. What’s not so great is that Rhamondre Stevenson played on 60% of the team’s snaps. Harris only played on 40%. Stevenson only got nine carries. He also played on 28 passing plays, and despite running routes on 23 of them only saw two targets, which was the same as Harris who only played on 12 passing snaps and ran only nine routes. It seems Harris is volume-proof.
There is still hope that Stevenson can be more efficient on his higher volume and can push for more opportunities. It’s a good matchup against PFF’s 24th-rated run defense. Rookie Pierre Strong is a name to keep in mind as he could step into a bigger role if something were to happen to Harris or Stevenson and with Ty Montgomery on IR. This week considering the matchup Harris is a high-end RB2 who could easily jump into the RB1 category. Stevenson is worth a flex play with a low floor but high upside considering the volume he is getting.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Start, WR2), DeVante Parker (Sit), Nelson Agholor (Start, WR3), Kendrick Bourne (Sit), Hunter Henry (Sit, TE2), Jonnu Smith (Sit)
The only thing more frustrating than the Patriots backfield might be the Patriots pass catchers. Veteran DeVante Parker has been nonexistent in the offense only seeing two targets each game this season despite playing 52 of the team’s 68 team snaps in Week 2. 2021 leading receiver Jakobi Meyers played 56 of the team’s total snaps and saw 13 targets last week. He caught nine of those for 95 yards. He still failed to get into the end zone which was the issue he had in 2021. He didn’t score his first touchdown until Week 10 last year. There is hope that he continues with this volume and that the touchdowns eventually come. Nelson Agholor only played on 50% of the team’s snaps (34 total), but somehow got six targets and he caught all of them for 110 yards and a touchdown. He was second on the team in routes run with 29 behind only Meyers. It’s a sign that they may want to get him more involved. Kendrick Bourne only played on 23 passing snaps and ran 21 routes but only saw three targets. Baltimore is giving up the most fantasy points to the wide receiver position so it’s a great matchup for the likes of Meyers, Agholor, and Bourne. You can start Meyers as a solid WR2 with WR1 upside if he can find the end zone. Agholor is a boom/bust option who normally would be a flex play but with the matchup can produce WR3 numbers. You have to sit both Parker and Bourne. Until we see it you can’t trust them.
Other players, you can’t trust are the duo of tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Neither of them topped 60% of the team’s snaps in Week 2 which is concerning given it was a close game and passing was still part of the game plan. If you had to pick one it looked like Henry is the one to hold. He played on 24 passing snaps compared to Smith’s 16. He ran 22 routes compared to 13 for Smith. He has at least seen a red zone target this year which is a positive. Even with the matchup, I’m not starting Henry outside of two tight-end leagues. The Ravens are giving up 9.1 points to the tight end position which is 8th most in the league.