One of the most high-octane and exciting offenses in the NFL last season was the Baltimore Ravens. After returning the majority of their starters, they figure to fit right into that area once again. Quarterback Lamar Jackson broke Michael Vick’s record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season. Running back Mark Ingram rang up his third career 1,000-yard season last year while averaging five yards per carry, and tight end Mark Andrews finished as a top-five tight end.
In the first year of Lamar being the full-time starter, John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman completely overhauled the unit to maximize his skill set. They allowed him to create with his athleticism en route to a QB1 season where he lapped the field. With an exotic rushing attack supplemented by a downfield passing game, the Ravens had an offense that no defense in the league was adequately built to stop.
On offense, there were only three major changes. Right guard Marshal Yanda has retired, and they have a few different options in place to replace him, although they’re all unproven to this point. The second change was the addition of J.K. Dobbins to the backfield. He provides a transition from Ingram with great pass-catching and running ability. Finally, they moved on from tight end Hayden Hurst. Hurst was the second tight end on the depth chart, but that mattered more on this team than most due to the frequency of multiple tight end sets.
The thing that set Jackson apart from any other quarterback was his rushing ability. Defenses couldn’t keep up with him, and he could just out-athlete them. However, the way he won changed as the season wore on. After averaging over 225 passing yards per game through the first eight games of the season, he averaged less than 190 while seeing an uptick in his efficiency and rushing yards. If he can maintain his pace throughout the season, he should easily be a top-five quarterback once again.
In the running back room, things are a bit murky. Ingram is the lead back, but it’s unclear what his workload will be. He had 202 carries last season, but Gus Edwards also had 133. Assuming JK Dobbins takes over the Edwards role, that’s a good amount of work Ingram won’t be getting. Ingram thrived on efficiency last year with 5.0 yards per carry. Ingram was RB8 last season, and, unless he maintains his efficiency and touchdown production, I see a hard path to him getting back into the RB1 conversation.
For Dobbins, he’s a consensus top-three running back in rookie drafts taking place this offseason, and there is a case to be made for him having some serious value this season. He is immediately the best pass-catching back in this offense, and he adds a dynamic they didn’t have much of last season. Combine that with his skills as a runner, we could see him serious committee develop as the season wears on.
As far as Edwards and Justice Hill go, I don’t see a huge role working for either of these guys. Edwards has a career average of 5.3 yards per carry on 270 carries, but he adds zero in the passing game. Hill was drafted in the fourth round in 2019 as the potential successor to Ingram, but he only registered 3.9 yards per carry during his rookie campaign before being passed over by Dobbins following the 2020 draft.
Wide receiver is the murkiest position on this team to scout from a fantasy perspective. Marquise Brown was the only player at the position with greater than 50 targets on the year. After Brown, three of the next six guys were receivers with 46 or fewer targets on the season, and they drafted Devin Duvernay in the third round, which further complicates things. Brown could be a WR2 or WR3 this year, but I wouldn’t trust any other guys for production this season other than the occasional week of big production.
After Brown, Duvernay and Myles Boykin are the only two guys you need to be looking at. Willie Snead and the others are largely just filler players. Duvernay offers Jackson a consistent underneath contributor. He caught 106 balls for over 1,300 yards in his final college season, and he can maintain that consistency moving forward. Boykin is a big-play option with his 4.42 speed and 6’4” & 220 pound size, but he didn’t do much last season with just 13 catches in 16 games. If he’s able to show off some more chemistry with Lamar this year, he might be an interesting play in best-ball formats.
At tight end, we have just one guy that we need to be concerned about for fantasy purposes. That is Andrews all the way. He was the team’s leader in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns last year. While other pass-catchers saw their numbers crater in the second half of the season, Andrews actually maintained a high level of production. With a snap percentage increase coming with Hurst’s absence, he should see an even better level of production in 2020.
Let’s head over to the defensive side of the ball. On the front line, Matt Judon broke out last year in the blitz-heavy scheme Baltimore employed, and he feasted with 9.5 sacks and 33 quarterback hits. The other big name to watch is Calais Campbell. The new addition has racked up at least five sacks in the last 11 seasons, and he causes real issues alongside Brandon Williams and Pernell McPhee. The one issue with this front is going to be production coming from everywhere, eating into the value of players as an individual.
At the linebacker position, Patrick Queen is the man that you want. The first-round pick out of LSU has the athleticism to play all three downs, and he’s going to be the next star middle linebacker for the Ravens’ defense. Tackles won’t be an issue, and he will love flying downhill in this offense to get into the backfield. He had 12 tackles for loss and three sacks in his final season. Moseley had 90 or more tackles in all five seasons in Baltimore, and Queen will fill that same role.
In the cornerback room, there are two names to know. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Humphrey is going to get his hands on the ball, and he has no problems tackling. Peters is going to be boom-or-bust in real life, but those booms are great for fantasy. He had three picks in nine games with Baltimore, and two of them were turned into touchdowns. If he can do that again, you’ll have a solid cornerback for fantasy.
Neither Chuck Clark nor Earl Thomas generates a ton of fantasy value from the safety position. Both finished outside the top 60 among DBs last year. I’m more interested in Clark than Thomas because he seems to get more tackles, but he doesn’t generate enough ball production.
This Baltimore group has a pretty clear group of producers. On offense, you want Jackson, Ingram, and Andrews with Brown as an interesting option at wide receiver if you have set producers ahead of him. On defense, your main options are Judon, Queen, and Humphrey. Queen is my dark-horse candidate to become a top-10 contributor at the position immediately. I think he’ll play over 90 percent of the snaps, and he’ll generate a lot of production while he’s out there.
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