The Committee Report: Baltimore Ravens

GEdwardsWe’re always searching for trends when we do our fantasy analysis, and in a league where turnover is quick and merciless, both on the field and among the coaching staff, it’s nice to have a lengthy track record to pull from like we do with John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens.

Of course, even though he’s coached the Ravens since 2008, the personel he’s had to work with has been in constant flux. From the three down workload Ray Rice enjoyed for a short time at the end of the aughts, to the three headed monsters of the last few years, it’s been difficult at best to predict the Raven’s backfield for some time now.

2019 looks to be no different as Lamar Miller returns as the incumbent starter in week 1, and last years second half darling Gus Edwards is suddenly joined by former Heisman trophy winner and New Orleans Saints battering ram Mark Ingram, as well as fourth round draft pick from Oklahoma State in Justice Hill.

So where does that leave us as fantasy players? It leaves us trying to determine who’s likely to get what touches, and why.

Starting with the rookie, it’s unlikely that he sees a large number of first and second down work. His size is a bit prohibitive, and while he’s been compared favorably to last years breakout rookie Philip Lindsay, unlike Lindsay, he has capable runners ahead of him in Ingram and Edwards. What he does offer, is excellent open field play as well as a good pace and motor. Does that mean we can pencil him in for the lions share of targets? I don’t think so.

Since 2014, when Ray Rice led the backfield with 72 targets, there hasn’t been any one standout player in the passing game. The closest would have been Buck Allen, who saw 103 targets between 2017 and 2018, but he’s no longer on the club. Dixon’s 41 targets in 2016 were third on the team, but it shows he can be a valuable part of the passing game as well. It’s more likely that there’s a similar breakdown in 2019, with Lamar Jackson showing last year he’d rather run than check too far down on those broken plays.

On the ground, though, it’s a two man race with Ingram and Edwards battling it out for the early downs. It’s got to be particularly frustrating for Edwards owners in keeper or dynasty leagues as well, since he seemed like he’d done enough to win the job in 2019. After coming into the game in week 10 against Cincinatti, Edwards average 17.5 rushing attempts per game, good for 93.5 yards per contest and a 5.25 YPC mark. Those aren’t the kind of numbers that a team highlights as a reason for adding another excellent running back, but here we are.

Mark Ingram, of course, has had his fair share of issues over the years. While he’s been healthy for the last few seasons, he did have a growing list of injuries, from toe, to knee injuries, and even some time on the shelf due to a concussion a few seasons back. Add to that his suspension last year, and you have a player who’s been both excellent and frustrating at the same time.  His last three seasons in New Orleans were excellent considering that Alvin Kamara’s presence had overshadowed Ingrams. He finished with nearly 200 carries a year (skewed slightly due to the suspension) as well as 1,000 yards per and 8 rushing TDs. He was also used more heavily in the passing game than Edwards, this too in spite of Kamara’s role as the pass catching back.

So who is worth drafting?

That’s the million dollar question, and to really answer it we need to look at their current ADPs.

  • Mark Ingram – ADP 44 (RB 24)
  • Gus Edwards – ADP 153 (RB 58)
  • Justice Hill – ADP – 162 (RB 60)
  • Kenneth Dixon – ADP – 214 (RB 70)

It’s interesting to see Ingram being drafted as the defacto starter in that offense. We know what he’s capable of, and in a two headed monster in New Orleans he was productive, but I think folks are ignoring how this offense is preparing to operate. Lamar Jackson was far from the most efficient passer, so I do expect the run game to see a lot of looks. Somewhere in the 450 attempts range. We’ve also seen Baltimore, under Harbaugh, have a split on the ground. A 60/40 split one way or the other is likely as well.

At his current ADP, Ingram is going along side players like Kenyan Drake, David Montgomery, and Tevin Coleman, and I’d argue he has less of an opportunity than any of those backs. Even if he has lions share of the rushing attempts, I don’t see him having the same kind of impact he had in New Orleans; this Baltimore offense won’t give him as many scoring opportunities.

Edwards, on the other hand, is one of the drafts better values, and is a pretty obvious handcuff for Ingram owners. In the 16th round, he costs you next to nothing, but it’s likely he gets at least a 50/50 split early on, especially given that he’s been practicing with the “ones” in camp so far. Ingrams talent may win out in the end, but I doubt that Edwards loses a significant amount of touches.

Hill is the wild card, though, as neither of the guys ahead of him (Ingram or Edwards) are standouts in the passing game. Ingram is a solid pass catcher, but Hill was drafted to contribute, and much like his comparable (Lindsay) worked into the lineup, I expect Hill to become a favorite target of Jackson as the season wears on. While I won’t go so far to suggest he’ll be a top 10 RB in terms of targets, seeing 60-65 targets isn’t out of the question.

Don’t draft Kenneth Dixon (assuming he even makes the roster). That’s as much as I’ll say there.

Predictions

  • Gus Edwards – 170 Ru. Attempts – 825 Yards – 3 TDS
  • Mark Ingram – 160 Ru. Attempts – 750 Yards – 7 TDs – 30 Receptions – 240 Yards – 1 Rec. TD
  • Justice Hill – 40 Ru. Attempts -155 Yards – 0 TD – 49 Receptions – 400 Yards – 3 Re. TDs

 

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Posted on June 12, 2019, in draft strategy, Player Articles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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