The path to beating the Ravens in 2021 was throwing the ball, as the Ravens were one of the worst passing defenses in the league. They allowed the most passing yards with 4,742 and the 26th most passing scores, 31. The run defense was phenomenal – first in yards allowed with 1,436 and allowed only 3.8 yards per carry and 13 TDs. The team overall allowed 392 points, 23.1 per game.
The Ravens addressed the departure of defensive tackle, Brandon Williams, on the line with the signing of Michael Pierce and added veteran corner Kyle Fuller in free agency. The draft gifted them Notre Dame’s safety Kyle Hamilton, defensive end Travis Jones, and linebacker David Ojabo, who will miss this season due to injury.
Odafe Oweh, DE
There isn’t much for IDP on the defensive front, it’s a solid unit predicated on stopping the run, but Oweh had a promising rookie year. He earned a 67.9 grade on PFF, had five sacks, and had 33 tackles while only starting two games. Oweh was only in on 56% of the defensive snaps. Expect that number to increase. He’s not going to win you any leagues, but he is a solid end start who hasn’t reached anywhere near his ceiling.
Best of the Rest
Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike are rotational pieces with no value in IDP. Michael Pierce and rookie Travis Jones are each defensive tackles that are strong in run stopping but also can get after quarterbacks. Still, I would only consider each rosterable in DT-premium leagues, and each is depth starts at best.
Patrick Queen, WLB
Man, I had such high hopes for Queen, and he has been severely underwhelming in his first two seasons. He posted 106 in 2020 and 98 tackles in 2021, and, as the three-down linebacker for Baltimore, he is only in the LB4 range for IDP. If you are investing in him now, I love his value and hope that Queen can get a better return. However, if you have invested in him over the prior few years, you are likely cursing him and throwing stuff at your TV when you see him.
Josh Bynes, ILB
Bynes is one of the most underrated linebackers in IDP. Mainly because you can get him dirt cheap, and he’s a consistent producer to throw in your lineup as an LB4 or spot start. He’s good for seven tackles a game like clockwork and is a player you can acquire cheap. Bynes is as solid as it gets. He is not a sexy player, but he won’t let you down.
Tyrus Bowser, OLB
With seven sacks, Bowser led the Ravens in sacks and tacked on 59 total tackles. That will give another option for LB4/5 production, and in big play leagues, the sacks and two forced fumbles are super nice. Bowser will likely hit exactly the same production if he plays all 17 games, that’s where his ceiling is, and his floor isn’t much lower either.
David Ojabo, OLB
David Ojabo hitting the Maxx Crosby eurospin on a guy that I think will be a starter in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/OSQokxFaHg— Mike (@bengals_sans) April 29, 2022
The former Michigan linebacker was getting early to mid-first-round buzz before the draft. A torn Achilles will keep him sidelined this entire season, and it will be interesting to see if it saps any of his speed. Ojabo’s speed and burst were his most enticing traits. If he can make a full recovery, he will lead the Ravens in sacks yearly for quite some time.
Best of the Rest
Malik Harrison is the only other linebacker worth a roster spot, and even then, I don’t see much for him if he does get in. He’s a thumping middle-of-the-field linebacker and looks inconsistent on the field.
Kyle Hamilton, FS/SS
In the ongoing saga of the NFL allowing superiorly talented players to fall to the Ravens in Drafts, Hamilton was selected with the 14th pick of the 2022 Draft. Some projected him in the top ten, even in the top five. The former Notre Dame safety does everything well and immensely helps the secondary. Hamilton can come up and help in run support but is phenomenal in coverage. He’s got an excellent feel for the game, and his instincts are off the charts. The Ravens’ depth chart doesn’t have him starting initially, but they will get him on the field.
Chuck Clark, SS
Clark was the second leading tackler in 2021, with 80 total tackles, and had 12 passes defended. He’s the prototypical strong safety, and we know what we have with him after three years as the starter. Clark will get you some tackles, passes defended, an INT or two, and be a good S3/4 for your IDP squad.
Marcus Williams, FS
The most significant signing, Williams, was brought in to address their biggest weakness. He’s a ball-hawking safety that will patrol the secondary and give help in pass defense. He’ll chip in some tackles, averaging just over 60 a year in his five-year career. Williams is not as good for IDP as he is for NFL and will be a welcome addition in the Charm City.
Best of the Rest
If you have to start a corner, Marlon Humphrey is a decent source for tackles and should be targeted a bunch with the return of Marcus Peters. Corner Kyle Fuller was brought in and will see a good complement of snaps. And historically has a nose for grabbing some INTs and tackles.
It’s tough to imagine the additions and returning players don’t make the Ravens’ passing defense much better, but it’s still probably a middle-of-the-pack secondary. Hamilton was a huge get, and I am curious to see how the Baltimore staff uses him. His versatility is impressive, and he will be a huge help.
This unit isn’t as lucrative for IDP as it used to be, but the Ravens always find a way to deploy what they have best and get the most out of their defenders. It’s never pretty, but the Ravens play with a swagger unmatched in the NFL.
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