Those fantasy owners with the foresight to draft players on the 2019 Raven’s offensive unit were paid dividends in fantasy gold. The Raven’s offense exploded onto the scene in Lamar Jackson’s first full year as the starter. Jackson was fantasy football’s QB1 and 2nd in overall points. He led a Ravens offense that set a record for rushing yards in a single season and was ranked 2nd best player under the age of 25-years old according to Lines.com. The offense produced a number of great players last year including running back Mark Ingram who finished as RB11 in PPR Leagues and RB8 in standard scoring. The offense also created one of the hottest waiver wire pickups of the year in Tight End Mark Andrews, who was placed squarely onto everyone’s radar as TE5 in PPR Leagues and TE2 in standard scoring last season. But with everything we know about this team now, can we expect some changes to the production in 2020? Is there still room for someone else to emerge and outperform his ADP?
Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins was added through the NFL draft in April, many see this as Ingrams sooner than later replacement and an excellent depth player for this season. Dobbins ADP sits at RB34 going into this season, and I consider him to be a must-add if you draft Ingram. He is capable of carrying the load, rushing over 2,000 yards at Ohio State last year with 21 touchdowns. With the appearance of a youth movement on this team, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dobbins eats into Ingram’s role earlier than expected. Dobbins will need a strong camp, however, as he will initially be competing with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill for playing time. He could cut out a niche for himself very early on passing downs, as Edwards has given virtually nothing in that stat column during his first two years in the league. This team is the definition of a crowded backfield, but Dobbins’ abilities may be too significant to deny.
The one subtraction from this offense in 2020 will be Hayden Hurst’s departure to Atlanta, mainly due to their faith in Nick Boyle’s blocking and great fit in their ground attack. Hurst was the odd man out after the Andrew and Jackson connection gelled so well.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (WR27 in 2020) came into the league last year with concerns about his size at 5’10 and 170 pounds but has since bulked up considerably in the offseason. Injuries plagued him throughout his rookie year, and he is another year removed from Lisfranc surgery, having the screw removed from his foot this offseason. Even with these factors working against him, he was still able to perform as the team’s top receiver with 46 receptions for 584 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Raven’s offense is predicated on big-play success that depends on Brown and Andrews but look for Hollywood to get more involved in the screen game. At Oklahoma, Brown was a headache for opposing defenses on screens, and his top-flight speed gave him an average of 6.4 yards of cushion at the snap last season. Brown could be a player that vaults up draft boards in the coming weeks with a strong training camp.
The Raven’s have high expectations for second-year receiver Miles Boykin, hoping his first year was a learning process as is often the case for rookie receivers. Boykin will be on the field as a big-bodied receiver at 6’4”, 220 pounds who excelled at blocking for their top-rated rushing attack. Baltimore invested a 2019 3rd round pick in Boykin and would like to see returns on his potential. He continues to work on the “ins and outs” of route running and making greater use of his size and deceptive speed. After posting only 13 receptions for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2019, his stock is incredibly low. The Raven’s are searching for ways to get the ball outside of crowded boxes and defenses focusing on Mark Andrews in the middle of the field, meaning they are turning to Boykin to step up. You’d be doing a disservice to yourself to not at least keep the probable WR2 from a top offensive unit in mind when looking for upside, especially in dynasty or daily leagues.
A league veteran, Willie Snead IV is still making fine contributions to a winning football team, just not to your fantasy team. Last year he had 31 catches for 339 yards and 5 touchdowns. As one of the best-blocking receivers in the league, along with his knack to make critical chain-moving catches, he will absolutely find the field; however, Snead will be challenged for playing time by rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche, who joined the Raven’s this offseason. Duvernay, a 3rd round pick out of Texas, is expected to have an impact right out of the gate. He can line up at just about any receiver position, making receptions both in the slot and outside. Last year, Duvernay was the highest-graded receiver against man coverage in the Big 12 and led the NCAA in missed tackles from the receiver position at 14. It doesn’t hurt that Harbaugh is extremely high on him and could not hide his excitement when selecting him in the draft. The Ravens traded up to select James Proche out of SMU at pick 201. He fits their scheme as a willing blocker with good hands. Proche tied for the NCAA lead in catches with 111, ranked 2nd in the nation with 8.5 receptions per game and 4th in touchdowns with 15; he’s no stranger to production. He is also a candidate to return punts this season, as he averaged 9.6 yards per return his senior year.
Coach Harbaugh was FIRED UP about that @Dev_Duv5 pick‼️
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 25, 2020
The strategy of targeting players from high-powered offenses is nothing new, and the Raven’s offense has become just that. Baltimore will continue to add wrinkles to their highly touted squad that features more than just the rushing attack. After last year’s success, they have drafted weapons with a history of production that they feel best fit and complement their key strategies. Don’t hesitate to reach a little for a player with Brown’s upside in re-draft leagues, and Dobbins may be much more than just a handcuff. In dynasty and daily leagues, Boykin, Duvernay, and Proche all have a price tag of next to nothing and possibly worth a stash or roll of the dice to get an exponential return. The 2019 Raven’s provided league-winning bargains and 2020’s team may have more to uncover if you’re willing to take the chance.
Jason Staples, better known to friends as “Stapes,” has been playing fantasy football since he was in high school in the 90’s. He has a 7x Diamond rating in Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football with much credit to his team “There’s No L in Stapes.” He has 13 years of experience in education and currently serves as a middle school Reading Specialist, helping students strengthen their literacy skills. He also coaches middle school football, focusing on wide receivers and defensive backs. His favorite aspect of Fantasy Football is hosting an annual draft party as the commish each year with close friends. Jason currently resides in Virginia with his wife and two dogs.