At this point, no matter what happens, the Baltimore Ravens can’t be excited about their 2020 campaign. As I write this, they are fighting for their playoff lives, one year after Lamar Jackson was the runaway MVP (pun intended). The Ravens cruised to the playoffs before the Titans knocked them off last season. This season, COVID-19 threatened to derail their season. That uneven performance has led to some fantasy football disappointments all around for the Baltimore Ravens. But, what should we remember about the 2020 Baltimore Ravens as we head into our 2021 fantasy football leagues?
What to Remember from the 2020 Baltimore Ravens Season
- Since 2010, no QB has two seasons of averaging 24+ fantasy points per game. In 2019, Lamar Jackson finished with 27.7 fantasy points per game, and in 2020, he ended with 22.61. A lot changes when a rushing quarterback goes from 80.4 yards per game down to 64.9 yards per game. His passing touchdowns cratering from 36 to 23 certainly didn’t help either. It was an across-the-board contraction from L-Jax from a season-long perspective. But, over the last four games of the fantasy football season, he paced out to 2,784 passing yards, 48 total touchdowns, eight picks, and 1,332 rushing yards. Except for the passing yards (which come close), this stretch is across-the-board better than his 2019 campaign.
- One of the reasons for Lamar Jackson’s retraction in 2020 is Marquise Brown’s failure to develop as a top receiving threat. He ended the year with just 728 receiving yards on 92 targets. In his last five games, he blew up (but not really). Hollywood carried a 106-target pace in the last five games… but he turned that into just 950 yards. His fantasy finish in those weeks (WR14 in the last five weeks) stems mostly from four touchdowns in five games. In the end, his hog rate decreased in 2020, from 13.3% to 12.5%, mostly thanks to his snap rate going from 59% to 85%. Despite getting the 35th-most targets, he had the sixth-most deep targets in the league. If one grows—which it should—the other should grow, as well. He experienced some growing pains and should come at a deep discount in 2021.
- Lamar Jackson’s other receiving threat, Mark Andrews, finished the year as the TE4 in fantasy points per game. He finished as a top-twelve TE in 8-of-13 games during the fantasy season, with 75% of his top-twelve performances coming in the top-five. Unfortunately, Andrews’ consistency stemmed solely from touchdowns. He averaged 51.8 yards per game at the position, which was fourth, but also well behind the 94.4 from Travis Kelce, the 80.9 from George Kittle, and the 71.9 from Darren Waller. We acknowledge Robert Tonyan and Mike Gesicki as touchdown-or-bust, and Andrews sat closer to their yardages (40.6 and 46.9 yards per game, respectively) than the big boys. He should sit in the tier with those guys, not with the big boys… where Darren Waller took his place. Andrews’ early-season struggles were hidden by five touchdowns in his first five games, but in games when he didn’t score touchdowns before their week seven bye, he averaged just 24 yards per game.
- The conventional wisdom surrounding the Mark Ingram-J.K. Dobbins handover is that Ingram ceded to Dobbins as the season wore on, allowing for the transition of power. In reality, Mark Ingram ceded to Gus Edwards, not Dobbins. Ingram started the year with a rolling four-game average around 25%. Then, in the second half of the year, he was inactive more-often than not, notching just 35 snaps after the week seven bye. If you look at a four-game rolling average of Dobbins’ snap percentage, he started around 35%-45% before the week seven bye and ended up with a four-game average between 45% and 55% in the post-bye Ravens. He topped out at 55% of snaps in a rolling four-game average. Edwards, on the other hand, started around 30%-40% of the snaps and ended up playing at least 40% of snaps in three of his last four games.
- But what about J.K. Dobbins, the hot new rookie phenom running back for the Ravens? Dobbins ended the year on a hot streak, averaging 13.64 fantasy points per game over the last five weeks. Unfortunately, we need to look deeper to find some troubles with that. First, he scored a touchdown per game in five-straight games, which accounts for 44% of his fantasy points in that span. Why are his fantasy points so low? He had more touchdowns than targets in the last five games of the year, hauling in 3-of-4 targets for 32 yards. In reality, his breakout was increased usage and lots of touchdowns. If you want to believe in the touchdowns, have at it, but the lack of targets will cause problems with his upside in 2021 and beyond. Nevermind the Gus Edwards Problem (I think the Ravens keep him around as the new Mark Ingram).