It seemed to be a fait accompli that the Ravens end up as at least the AFC Champions last year. They went 14-2, vanquishing strong foes like the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. Their offense was one of the best we’ve ever seen, mostly thanks to Greg Roman’s adept scheming around Lamar Jackson. What can we expect out of the Baltimore Ravens and their fantasy options in 2020? Here are my picks for the sleeper, breakout, and bust for the 2020 Baltimore Ravens.
Sleeper – J.K. Dobbins, Running Back (RB42, 107 overall)
By some people’s reckoning, Dobbins was the best running back in the class. By most people’s reckoning, he was third-best at worst. That’s a pretty lofty ranking, and given the Ravens used premium draft capital on him (a second-round selection), it makes sense that the multi-talented back sees the field early and often, and even if he doesn’t supplant Mark Ingram, the Ravens offense is built for his success in the short side of the platoon.
Per Baltimore Ravens’ General Manager Eric DeCosta, not taking Dobbins in the second would have been “irresponsible” given his skillset. At this point, I’m not sure if he’s a speedy back with more power than you would think or a powerful back with more speed than he has any right. The kid is good, is the short of it. And while Mark Ingram led this backfield in touches, he only had 228 of them overall. Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, who aren’t nearly as good as Dobbins, combined for 206 touches. If Dobbins can get the lion’s share of those touches, and steal some from Mark Ingram, then we have something cooking there.
There’s also the possibility that he supplants Mark Ingram entirely, but we will get to that later.
Breakout – Marquise Brown, Wide Receiver (WR32, 77 overall)
This one isn’t really fair to Marquise Brown. He already broke out, but then various injuries derailed his rookie year. These injuries led Head Coach John Harbaugh to note that we still haven’t seen Marquise Brown at 100%. He injured his ankle and was on-and-off the injury report for the rest of the year with the issue. Surprisingly, it was not his Lisfranc injury that cost him most of his rookie year, injuries derailed his first season, as Brown played only four fully healthy games all year. Still, Brown ended 2019 with 46 receptions for 584 yards and 7 touchdowns. The seven touchdowns are impressive, and they ranked him third behind A.J. Brown and Darius Slayton among rookie wide receivers, tied with Mecole Hardman, Terry McLaurin, and D.K. Metcalf. Again, he did this with an ankle injury hampering all season long.
As for 2020, Marquise Brown has some great rate stats that point to a breakout campaign if he can stay on the field. He has the sixth-highest QB rating when targeted (123.2), and the eight-highest fantasy points per route run. That second stat isn’t surprising for a deep shot artist on a run-first team who was rotated through due to injury. You’re not running a lot of routes, and when you’re targeted, it’s a big play. Still, you actually have to come down with the deep balls. There’s also the question of a healthy Marquise Brown. Given that he had to get his Lisfranc pin removed this offseason, we may not have seen it. But, in the first four games of 2019, before things started to fall apart, he played on a 72-catch, 1,216-yards, 8 touchdown pace. That sounds like a good floor for his 2020 season.
Bust – Mark Ingram, Running Back (RB21, 45 overall)
There aren’t many running backs who see their heir apparent going in the second round of the NFL Draft who end up going inside the top-24 at the position. Marlon Mack and Kerryon Johnson are RB33 and RB34, respectively. Kerryon has injury concerns, but you can’t really point to anything Mack did wrong in 2019 except getting replaced in the draft. One could argue that also holds true for Ingram, yet he sees no corresponding drop in draft value.
Mark Ingram benefited from some extremely high efficiency in 2019 as his role in the powerful Ravens offense was to take the cheap shots and to keep the ball moving. He was tasked with almost no targets (instead of dump offs, Lamar Jackson likes to run), and boasted the second-highest yards-per-carry of his career. He scored one touchdown every 20.2 carries, which is extremely efficient. His number would be slightly higher, if not for the limited number of touches (backs in the 18-22 carry per touchdown range usually average about 12 touchdowns a year). Mark Ingram was the right guy in the right place, but his time might be waning. I could be way wrong about this, but Dobbins should take over the strong side of the platoon in the second-half of 2020. Ingram had the #1 juke rate last season, which speaks to his ability, but he had the #17 rate in 2018.
One Mark Ingram injury, however, it is all over in 2020. It’s going to be the J.K. Dobbins Show as he grabs ahold of the reins and doesn’t let go, relegating Ingram to a platoon role.