Last year in this spot I wrongly (VERY WRONGLY) assumed that
Jackson would struggle to be an efficient full-time quarterback.
For years NFL teams have taken ultra-athletic quarterbacks and
tried to shoehorn them into more ďtypicalĒ roles as
drop-back passers. Well the Ravens bucked tradition and instead
of trying to change the player to fit the offense, they went ahead
and built the entire thing around a generational talent. The result?
A statistical season for the ages and perhaps a blueprint on how
to build a team around a player who breaks the mold.
Twenty-five players attempted more passes than Jackson, but he
still led the league with 36 touchdown passes, tack on another
7 on the ground, (to only 6 interceptions) and Jackson had one
of the most efficient statistical seasons of all time. While throwing
like a QB1, he also, not surprisingly, ran like a RB1, putting
up a 176-1206 line (yes, thatís 6.9 yards per carry!). Think
about that for a second. Jackson played so well that he could
have been a top tier option at TWO different positions. Iíd
love to see the numbers on the percentage of fantasy championships
won by Jackson owners!
What can you expect for your Jackson investment in 2020? History
says that repeating the ground numbers is going to be incredibly
difficult. 2019 was a historical season for the former Heisman
winner, and with teams better prepared for what the Ravenís
want to do, his development as a passer, and the desire to keep
him healthy, you have to believe some of his rush attempts will
be trimmed. Oh donít get me wrong, Jackson will still likely
double the rushing total of the next quarterback below him, but
a simple regression in his overall efficiency has to be expected.
The one giant early season advantage the Ravens have is continuity.
With the insanity and uncertainty of this offseason, Baltimore
will be far ahead in their preparation. I wonít be guilty
of doubting Jackson again, so even with some regression in stats,
his insanely high weekly floor makes him the No.1 quarterback
on my board.
So while I whiffed on Jackson in this column last season in an
epic way, I did call out Ingram as a great value pick; and that
he was! Bouncing back to have one of the best seasons of his nine-year
career, Ingram set a career high in total touchdowns (15) while
rushing for over 1,000 yards for the third time. Part of an unstoppable
backfield, Ingram provided the stabilizing veteran presence on
an offense surrounded by young dynamic talent. Unfortunately for
Ingramís 2020 outlook, that talent got even more dynamic
with the drafting of J.K Dobbins in the 2nd round of the draft.
Ingramís final 2019 numbers look great, but the 5 receiving touchdowns
prop up an otherwise lackluster receiving game. This can be partly
blamed by design as the offense was way down the list in pass
attempts, but Ingram still did sputter at times last season. Two
early season games against KC in Week 1 and Miami in Week 3 provided
50% of his total rushing touchdowns (5) and the lack of receptions
really hurt in weeks he didnít score. There are only so many carries
to go around and the presence of a rushing quarterback like Jackson
and drafting of Dobbins are going to further eat into Ingramís
touches. While an easy RB1 in standard leagues last season, I
think Ingram has to be viewed more of a RB2 in 2020. I donít see
Dobbins taking over as the majority starter this season, but Ingram
is going to need to hold off the explosive rookie as long as possible.
Even if another 1,000 season might be off the table, Ingram still
offers double-digit touchdown potential and will be a solid complementary
piece for your fantasy team.
As a Michigan alum Iíve seen enough of J.K Dobbins. As a
matter of fact, if you live in Ann Arbor just look out the window
and you might see the Wolverine defense still running around trying
to stop him! I do take heart in the fact that Michigan wasnít
the only school that couldnít lay a hand on the former Buckeye,
as Dobbins laid waste to the entire NCAA during his junior season.
The 301-2003-21 line would have been good enough to win plenty
of Heisman Trophies in past years, and it would have been in 2019
if not for that Burrow fella.
Despite joining an embarrassment of riches in the Baltimore backfield,
he does give the offense a home run hitter to pair with Jackson.
With 4.4 speed and chart topping athleticism, Dobbins is going
to instantly push Ingram for significant carries in this offense
and it will remain to be seen just how long the vet can hold on.
I can easily envision a world where Dobbins becomes the main back
by the middle of the year and leads the way to a few fantasy titles.
At times last season Ingram lacked the juice to squeeze through
the holes in the defense left by the attention on Jackson. Dobbins
will not be guilty of this. His speed, vision, and balance allow
him to slip through creases and get down the field in a hurry.
Iíd be surprised if you donít see a 50+ yard touchdown
by Dobbins on a read-option by Week 5. Keep in mind, with low
pass attempt numbers, and Ingram and Justice Hill being capable
3rd down backs, Dobbins has a serious lid on his receiving numbers,
but heís a player worth considering as you move into the
2nd half of your draft. He can be an RB3 even in a time-share,
and a RB1 if Ingram were to go down.
Despite flashing a bit in the seasonís final two games,
Justice Hill was largely left out of the rushing bonanza that
Baltimore put on last season. Edwards meanwhile took advantage
of some blow-out victories to secure a quality follow-up to his
solid rookie season. Fantasy prospects for both of these guys
were positive heading into 2020, that was until Dobbins fell into
the Ravensí lap in the 2nd round of the draft. With that
selection went any realistic hopes of Hill or Edwards being a
fantasy factor this season, or beyond. Between Jackson, Dobbins
and Ingram, there will only be measly scraps left for these guys.
Itís going to take a long term injury or illness to pry
them off the waiver wire.
A dynamic debut in both the regular season and playoffs bookended
a rollercoaster season for the rookie from Oklahoma. An offseason
foot injury that lingered on into the year, Brown was never quite
able to duplicate his breath taking 4-147-2 NFL debut in Week
1. A strong 8-82 line in Week 2 was followed-up with boom and
bust weeks until a 7-126 line in the playoff loss to the Titans.
To say his rookie season was up and down was an understatement.
During the most important part of the fantasy season (Weeks 13-16)
Brown had three games where he COMBINED for 5 yards. While some
inconsistency was expected from a route-limited rookie receiver
coming off a foot injury, that was a painful pill to swallow.
A healthy off-season as the teamís clear WR1 should go a long
way to improving Brownís second year numbers, as he becomes an
integral part of the evolution of this passing offense. A large
part of the reason the Titans were able to throttle the Ravens
in the playoffs was the lack of Jacksonís ability to connect with
his receivers consistently. WIth Mark Andrews bottled up, the
passing game sputtered. An extension of his route tree, combined
with his game-breaking speed and quickness, Brown is set up for
a second-year surge. The rare WR3 with week winning potential,
Brown is a player I want to own as many shares of as possible
in standard leagues. With a slight uptick in passing attempts
and continued health, Brown has a chance to catch 70 passes. This
coaching staff has shown that they are willing to devise schemes
to best match their players, and I see Brown having the type of
talent and opportunity that could greatly outpace his current
Short of Brown getting hurt, or the Ravens suddenly transforming
into the Run and Shoot, no other receiver on this team is currently
worth a sniff for fantasy purposes. Boykin would be my first choice,
as heís likely to start opposite Brown on the outside and
with elite size and athleticism, he offers much more upside than
the veteran Willie Snead. The reality is that Baltimore will remain
a run-first offense and itís a numbers game for Boykin.
Andrews and Brown will siphon off the majority of the targets,
and while Boykin might make a few big plays to help the Ravens
win games, heís not going to get enough opportunities to
help you win yours.
I clearly did not give the Baltimore coaching staff enough credit
when evaluating this offense last year. While people were laughing
at Jacksonís struggles throwing the ball, and the team spending
draft picks on the entire Oklahoma Sooner offense, the front office
was quietly building a juggernaut. They identified the scheme
they wanted to run, and went out and found players that fit it
perfectly. Andrews was one of those guys. Strictly a ďmoveĒ
tight end for the Sooners, Andrews was the Ravenís 3rd round
pick in a 2018 draft that saw them pick another tight end, Hayden
Hurst, in the 1st round.
While Andrews had a solid rookie year, the presence of Hurst
made it unlikely 2019ís monster season could be possible. But
it happened anyway! Andrewsís 98 targets easily led the team,
as did his 65 receptions, 852 yards, and 10 touchdowns. His skillset
proved to be perfect for the offense. A big body who glides in
and out of his routes, Andrews took advantage of the attention
paid to Jacksonís misdirection plays to gallop wide open down
the field on many occasions. He was incredibly consistent on a
low-volume pass offense, and his 10 touchdowns doubled almost
all other players at the position in the top-5.
Unfortunately the Titans found the blueprint for stopping this
offense, and that just happened to be stopping Andrews. Itís
logical to think that the health of Brown, and need to develop
the young receivers will eat into Andrewsí target share.
But despite a slight regression in his numbers, Hurst was traded
away in the offseason and Andrews is still the top option in this
passing game, and an easy top-5 fantasy tight end.