2020 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview

by Michael Tomlin
2020 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview

I can feel it in the air: the 2020 Fantasy Football season is right around the corner! Well, at least the draft preparation is kicking into full gear! I'm excited to get started with the 2020 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview.

The Baltimore Ravens are coming off the best regular season in their history. They looked destined for the Super Bowl… until the Titans put up a blueprint for how to beat the Ravens, especially Lamar Jackson. (Hold that thought for a couple of paragraphs.)

So where does that leave the Baltimore Ravens going into 2020? Well, they are basically the co-favorites to win the Super Bowl and have the second favorite to win MVP. But for Fantasy Football, I do not think they are anywhere near the top of the league.

Here is the 2020 Fantasy Football team preview of the Baltimore Ravens.

2020 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview

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I said it the night that the Titans wiped the floor with the Ravens: that is the blueprint that the rest of the league will follow. This is where I was vilified on Twitter. “But he threw for 365 yards and ran for 143! By Fantasy Football standards it was an ELITE game!”

Which, yes, it was a solid quarterback week for Fantasy purposes. That’s 28.9 Fantasy Points depending on your scoring setup. However, those people are failing to grasp the most important factor: the Ravens lost.

They did not just lose; they were dominated and were never really in the game. So Lamar Jackson had a career-high in passing yards AS WELL AS the second-best rushing day of his career and it was easily the worst loss of his career. If that’s not a huge red flag then I don’t know what one would be.

There is other statistical data that shows the Beat Lamar Blueprint. In games that Lamar has thrown the ball more than 20 times, if his completion percentage is 54.5% or less than the Ravens are winless.

Yes, that sounds like a losing stat for ALL quarterbacks. Well in 2019, the win percentage for quarterbacks with that stat was nearly 25%. In 2018 the percentage was closer to 33%. So Lamar cannot overcome a bad completion percentage day as well as most quarterbacks.

Well, that’s not rocket science. Make the quarterback complete fewer passes is a way to win. The other factor I found was intended air yards per attempt. Three of Lamar’s highest four games in that statistic are losses. So whenever Jackson is forced to throw the ball down the field, he is much less accurate than most quarterbacks.

Long story short, the way to beat Lamar Jackson is to force him into adversity. To avoid adversity, you play it safer with him. That would mean throwing the ball less down the field and running less. In the two wins where Lamar had his highest average depth of intended target, he scored almost 17% of his Fantasy Points on the season. So if you are limiting those outings, you limit some of his biggest games.

I’m not saying he is going to be unstartable or anything. I simply saying that these factors combined with his regression on touchdown percentage and injury luck makes the price tag on him too much for my taste.

Robert Griffin is a must-have for any Lamar drafters though. He is one of the few people on the planet that can at least give you a solid percentage of what Lamar can do.

Running Backs

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Mark Ingram just keeps plugging along. The 30-year old running back put up his third 1,000-yard season in four years and added (a career high) 15 total touchdowns.

Every year there seems to be a new, young back to take his place. Every year Ingram seems to fight them off. Last year it was Justice Hill and Gus Edwards. Ingram managed to still accumulate 51.4% of running back rush attempts and 56.9% of targets.

This year that new flavor of the week is J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins was nothing short of amazing at Ohio State. The Texas-high-school product rushed for 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns over just three seasons in Columbus, second all-time at a historic school for running backs.

However, Ingram is not exactly slowing down. He had the second-highest yards per carry of his career. Only Derrick Henry had a higher YPC with at least 155 carries among backs.

The biggest knock on Dobbins is the current situation. With no mini-camps and limited interaction due to the pandemic, rookies will be further behind than usual. As far as Hill and Edwards, I think the draft capital spent on Dobbins says it all (2nd-round pick). He will at least eat up the non-Lamar/Ingram touches and be worth a late-round pick.

Wide Receivers

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  • Marquise Brown
  • Miles Boykin
  • Willie Snead
  • Devin Duvernay
  • James Proche

Hollywood Brown may as well be called Desean Jackson Jr. In games that Brown did not score (he only had spikes in five games), he averaged 27.6 yards per game. There was a game he had NEGATIVE yardage for the whole game.

So if his whole Fantasy relevance was based on scoring touchdowns, what does that mean for an offense that is due for serious regression in passing touchdowns? Also, Baltimore had the lowest percentage of targets to receivers of any team in the league (42.22%). For comparison’s sake, the Cardinals targeted their wide receivers nearly 70% of the time.

Willie Snead had the second-most catches and yards among receivers last season for Baltimore, but those totals were just 31 and 339 respectively. The offense, in general, is more of a run-the-ball, dump-it-to-tight-ends type of show.

However, the two rookies from the state of Texas are intriguing. Duvernay gives the offense some serious YAC potential. He’s a bigger body but almost as explosive as Brown/Snead. He will be able to take screens/quick-game passes and turn them into big plays.

James Proche is a super deep sleeper. If he had gone to a bigger school he would have been drafted much higher than Round Six. He caught over 200 balls for 2,424 yards and 27 touchdowns in the last two seasons at SMU. Oh, and he can make spectacular, highlight-reel catches.

Tight Ends

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At the other end of the target spectrum for the Ravens’ wide receivers were the tight ends. No one in the NFL had as high of a target percentage to tight ends as Baltimore last season. Lamar and co. threw towards their tight ends 42.7% of the time. Only two other teams even crossed the 30% barrier. The Patriots only targeted tight ends 9% of the time.

The tight end position combined for 180 targets, 125 receptions, 1,522 yards and 14 touchdowns last season in Baltimore. Gone is former first-round pick Hayden Hurst. The Ravens did not really replace him either.

That leaves these two quality tight ends as possible Fantasy options. Andrews is a small leap away from joining the elite tier at the position. In just his second season, Andrews hauled in 64 passes for 852 yards and ten touchdowns. He quickly became Lamar Jackson’s favorite option as he led the team in targets.

It wasn’t a fluke either. In the last five games that Andrews played his rookie year with Lamar, he averaged almost 60 yards per game. Extrapolated out, his yardage total would have cleared the 900-yard mark easily. Andrews is well worth a third- or fourth-round pick this season.

Nick Boyle will have some relevance as well. Obviously, if Andrews were to miss time, Boyle moves into a TE1 role in Fantasy Football. However, in deeper leagues or tight end premium setups, I think Boyle will still be worth a roster spot.

In 2019, 43% of Lamar Jackson’s Red Zone targets were to tight ends. I’ve already mentioned that I think the offense will throw the ball less downfield in general, which will also lend itself to the tight ends. Lastly, Andrews is not a secret anymore. He will be the focus of the defense, and Baltimore had multiple tight ends on the field 41% of offensive plays, third-most in the league.

Final Verdict

The Ravens’ offense has a strange mix of different types of players as we head into the 2020 Fantasy Football season.

There are two absolutely elite players. One is being over-valued (Jackson) and one is valued correctly (Andrews).

Baltimore has the older, established running back (Ingram) as well as the flashy, new-toy-rookie (Dobbins). I tend to always lean to the proven production there.

Their receivers are all a crapshoot because of the lack of targets their way. However, this could lead to multiple tight ends being worth starting in deeper leagues.

In the end, expect heavy regression from the offense as a whole. Nevertheless, there are still quality options to roster on your Fantasy Football squad.

Now swing by Keith's Baltimore Ravens projections because agrees with me on the Lamar regression.

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