The Baltimore Ravens set the NFL and fantasy world ablaze last season. Was it a one-year phenomenon, or can we count on them to repeat their fantasy success?
When looking at fantasy players – or anything, really – we tend to look at them in isolation. We see something, focus on it and think of it in a vacuum. However, plenty of insight can be gained by looking at a player’s supporting cast and the infrastructure around them. Here at DynastyFootballDigest.com, we’re taking a team-by-team look at impactful fantasy players. In these season previews (which began with the Arizona Cardinals) you can expect to see:
- Top performer – The player I project to finish the highest at their position on the team.
- Biggest bust potential – Who is most likely to fall short of expectations this season?
- Sleeper to watch – This player, whether a rookie or an unheralded veteran, has a shot to make a splash in 2020.
- Stash for the future – One dart-throw to hold onto for future seasons. Relatively low cost, potentially high reward.
Without further ado, let’s dig into one of 2020’s most intriguing teams, the Baltimore Ravens.
Top Performer – Lamar Jackson, QB
My overall assessment of last year’s MVP will probably lead me to being crucified in the Twitter streets: I have Lamar Jackson finishing just outside the league’s top five quarterbacks in 2020. The Baltimore Ravens ran the ball at a staggeringly high rate in 2019, rushing on more than 57 percent of their plays. The next-highest team, the San Fransisco 49ers, ran the ball about 51 percent of the time. We can assume Baltimore leads the league in rushing percentage once again, but assuming any team goes 14-2 two years in a row is foolish. Let’s assume they lose a couple more games and that rushing percentage drops down to 55 percent – still an incredibly high number.
This difference, along with teams having a full season of film of Jackson, I believe equates to a slight regression, which isn’t a bold take by any means. Here’s a look at last year’s stats compared to what I have projected.
2019: 265/401, 3,127 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, 6 interceptions … 176 attempts, 1,206 yards, 7 touchdowns
2020 projected: 300/450, 3,272 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 8 interceptions … 138 attempts, 894 yards, 6 touchdowns
One thing stands out as borderline ridiculous: Jackson is projected to throw the ball 49 more times but wind up with 15 fewer touchdowns. I know, I know. But Jackson threw a touchdown on 8.98 percent of his throws last year, which is the highest single-season rate of any active NFL player, per footballdb.com. It was actually the highest touchdown rate of any player since 1966 … better than the MVP seasons of Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, etc. He was that efficient as a passer last season.
I could be wildly wrong and overplaying how much I think he regresses from a touchdown standpoint, but even if that holds true, my projections have him finishing with 324 points, which would have been good enough for QB6 numbers last year.
Biggest Bust Potential – Mark Ingram, RB
I know nobody is heralding Mark Ingram as a top running back option (his July ADP is RB30), but I think second-round rookie J.K. Dobbins is a more immediate threat to Ingram’s fantasy production than most assume. I’ve seen contenders buying Ingram for a late first or early second, but I worry Ingram won’t be able to help those teams contend in the latter weeks of the season. Think of Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde. Hyde began the season as the starter, Chubb ended it. Similar situation with Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard. Although Howard got hurt, Sanders began picking up steam as the season progressed.
I think the same can happen for Dobbins. Dobbins and Ingram are on opposite sides of the age spectrum. Despite Ingram’s continued longevity and production, that cliff’s edge is coming sooner than later. I still have Ingram as a quality flex play this season, but his stock – and weekly output – could easily dip if Dobbins impresses out of the gates.
Sleeper to Watch – J.K. Dobbins, RB
To most in the dynasty community, J.K. Dobbins as anything but a sleeper. However, when looking at 2020 projections, it is presumed Dobbins will make only a small ripple in the fantasy waters this season. As mentioned above, I think Dobbins’ talent is already shining through the proverbial cracked door in Baltimore. I think it’ll only take a handful of games for him to knock the hinges off that door and take over that backfield.
Dobbins played with another mobile quarterback at Ohio State, and he’s just quicker, faster and an overall better athlete than Ingram at this point in his career. Even if he starts off slow, I think he can be a league-winner because of a late-season surge. Again, think rookie-year Nick Chubb or Miles Sanders. Call this bold, but for dynasty purposes, I have Dobbins in the same tier as Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor. I love him in this offense that much. He’s going as RB22 in our July ADP. If you’re taking him after guys like Chris Carson or LeVeon Bell, you might be regretting it midway through the season, and certainly in the years that follow.
Stash for the Future – Justice Hill, RB
One year into his NFL career, Justice Hill finds himself buried deep in the Ravens’ depth chart. Ingram will likely start the season as the lead back, followed by Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Hill should inch his way up the ranks with time, but it’ll be hard for him to ever garner a large workload in Baltimore. I could see him developing into a viable PPR flex option in the future, similar to the value Duke Johnson or Tarik Cohen provide. That might come at the end of his first contract with another team, assuming he gets one.
Best-case scenario: Next season, the Baltimore Ravens take the out in Ingram’s contract, and they also opt to let Gus Edwards walk. That would provide Dobbins with the lead back role, possibly allowing Hill to slide in as the secondary option out of the backfield, which should hold significant value in Baltimore as long as Jackson is there. He should be incredibly cheap, and perhaps even free, after Dobbins was selected in the second round of April’s draft.