Friday, August 12, 2022

2022 Ravens Fantasy Football Preview: Will J.K. Dobbins be ready to lead the ground game?

Lamar Jackson hasn’t lived up to expectations the past few seasons, but this is still an offense with a ton of potential. Rashod Bateman and J.K. Dobbins are both relatively unproven for the roles they’re being asked to fill, but both could be superstars for Fantasy if they hit, and this offense could rediscover some of that 2019 spark if everyone stays healthy. 

2021 Review

Record: 8 – 9 (19)

PPG: 22.8 (17)

YPG: 378.8 (6)

Pass YPG: 233.0 (13)

Rush YPG: 145.8 (3)

PAPG: 35.9 (9)

RAPG: 30.4 (3)

2020 Fantasy finishes

QB: Lamar Jackson QB16, Tyler Huntley QB37

RB: Devonta Freeman* RB32, Latavius Murray* RB42

WR: Marquise Brown* WR24, Rashod Bateman WR78

TE: Mark Andrews TE1

*No longer with team

Number to know: 51.6%

The Ravens threw more than they ran the ball in 2021, the first time that has been true since Jackson became the starter. But don’t think it’s because of some change in philosophy that’s likely to continue into 2022. The Ravens were forced into a more pass-heavy approach due to an almost unprecedented string of bad luck with their running backs: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all sustained season-ending injuries before Week 1, clearing out the team’s RB depth chart before they even played a game.

That left them relying on the undrafted Ty’Son Williams and veteran castoffs like Freeman, Murray, and Le’Veon Bell, none of whom brought much spark to the running game. Jackson and Huntley combined for 1,061 yards on the ground between them, and with Dobbins and Edwards expected back for training camp, expect this offense to lean heavily on the running game once again. 

What that means is that a repeat of Andrews’ TE1 season probably isn’t in the cards, for one. Andrews’ production actually took a huge leap in the games Jackson missed; he averaged 21.96 PPR points on 11.4 targets per game in five without Jackson compared to 16.3 on 8.5 targets with Jackson. Now, 16.3 would still be an awesome season, but it would have finished second to Travis Kelce last season — and would also have been the best season of Andrews’ career by 2.4 points per game. I’m expecting some regression there. 

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

1. (14) Kyle Hamilton, S

1. (25) Tyler Linderbaum, OL

2. (45) David Ojabo, LB

3. (76) Travis Jones, DT

4. (110) Daniel Faalele, T

4. (119) Jalyn Armour-Davis, DB

4. (128) Charlie Kolar, TE

4. (130) Jordan Stout, P

4. (139) Isaiah Likely, TE

4. (141) Damarion Williams, CB

6. (196) Tyler Badie, RB

Additions

S Marcus Williams, OL Morgan Moses, DL Michael Pierce, RB Mike Davis, DB Kyle Fuller

Key Departures

OL Alejandro Villanueva, WR Sammy Watkins, S DeShon Elliott, C Bradley Bozeman, 

Available Opportunity 

287 carries, 71 RB targets, 195 WR targets, 1 TE target

2022 Preview

Rankings

Chris Towers’ projections

QB Lamar Jackson PA: 543, YD: 3961, TD: 27, INT: 13; RUSH — ATT: 163, YD: 899, TD: 7
RB J.K. Dobbins CAR: 218, YD: 981, TD: 10, TAR: 43, REC: 35, YD: 278, TD: 1
RB Gus Edwards CAR: 163, YD: 736, TD: 5, TAR: 22, REC: 17, YD: 130, TD: 1
WR Rashod Bateman TAR: 136, REC: 78, YD: 1010, TD: 6
WR Devin Duvernay TAR: 69, REC: 38, YD: 460, TD: 3
WR James Proche TAR: 63, REC: 39, YD: 458, TD: 3
TE Mark Andrews TAR: 130, REC: 88, YD: 1118, TD: 8

Biggest Question

Is J.K. Dobbins ready for stardom?  

Dobbins sure looked like it down the stretch as a rookie when he rushed for seven touchdowns over the final six games, but that was back in 2020. There’s plenty of upside in an offense that ranked first and seventh in scoring in consecutive seasons before struggling with injuries a year ago, but Dobbins status for Week 1 is more of a question than we initially thought. He may still be ready to go for the start of the season, but don’t be surprised if he’s worked in relatively slowly alongside Gus Edwards and potentially Mike Davis. You might need to be very patient with Dobbins if you snag him as an RB2. 

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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

Both Edwards and J.K. Dobbins are working their way back from torn ACLs, but Edwards’ recovery is a bit more straightforward since Dobbins also suffered damage to his LCL. That doesn’t necessarily mean Dobbins’ timeline is longer than Edwards’ or that he won’t be ready for Week 1, but it might mean there are more obstacles to clear for him. If Edwards is ahead of Dobbins – we’ll know more by training camp – it’s possible he has a bigger role than we’re currently expecting and could be a useful Fantasy option early on. And there’s clear RB2 upside if Dobbins has to miss any time.

The Ravens treated Brown like a No. 1 WR, with a 27% target share that rivaled Andrews’ – and Jackson looked his way more often than Andrews. That’s not to say Bateman will definitely step into a similar role in the offense, but it seems like that’s the expectation after they shipped Brown off for a first-round pick and then didn’t really do much to replace him. Bateman is unproven, but he has the size to win contested catches in a way Brown never really could, so the hope is he’ll be a better fit as Jackson’s top option after Brown and Jackson struggled to get on the same page at times. Brown did top 1,000 yards last season, albeit on career-low efficiency – he needed a lot of targets to get there. If Bateman can be more effective, it’s possible he replicates Brown’s production even in a less pass-heavy version of the offense. There probably isn’t top-12 upside here, but Bateman could certainly be a must-start option.

Andrews benefited from Jackson’s absence not because Huntley is, somehow, a better passer than Jackson, but because Huntley was laser-focused on getting him the ball – 28.2% of his pass attempts went to Andrews. Andrews’ target share of  23.6% with Jackson is still healthy, but between that and the expected dip in overall pass volume, Andrews probably isn’t repeating his outlier 2021. The question is how much he regresses. He set a new career-high in receiving yards per game by 23.3, with 43 more receptions than his previous career best. Andrews is being drafted with the expectation he’ll once again be a significant difference maker at tight end, but if he falls back to 2019-20 levels, he’ll be a disappointment. 

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