The Baltimore Ravens have been one of the more consistent teams in the AFC North over the past decade, holding onto a bruising style of play and a solid defense to maintain relevancy even behind the aging arm of Joe Flacco and his massive contract. In 2019, they finished 10-6 while averaging 374.9 yards per game (good for ninth in the league) with an emphasis on establishing the run, resulting in 152.6 rushing yards per game. In terms of fantasy, this is a team entirely anchored to the success or failure of second-year QB Lamar Jackson, who has superb rushing ability but is questionable with his accuracy and precision as a QB.
The wide receivers for the Ravens likely will continue to suffer as they put the emphasis on the running game once again, which makes their running backs useful should one emerge as the No. 2 option. Unfortunately, the Ravens are big on using a committee backfield, and it muddies the waters for the 2020 season for those looking for the focal point of a likely boring offense.
Key Departures:Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver; Joe Flacco, Quarterback
Key Acquisitions:Mark Ingram, Running Back; Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Wide Receiver
2019 Fantasy MVP
Lamar Jackson, QBLike I mentioned in the intro, the Ravens’ entire season will be connected to the outcomes of Jackson. We saw Jackson have a lot of success running the ball in 2019 with 695 rushing yards on 147 attempts (an absolutely insane amount of rushing volume for a QB), but he was underwhelming to say the least when it came to his passing efficiency. He only threw for 1,201 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 58.2% of his passes. If you extrapolate those out 16 full games (he started seven), he would end up with just about 2,600 passing yards and 15 passing TDs with around 1,800 rushing yards and 10 TDs. By that estimation, he’s an incredible asset in fantasy.
The worry for myself and others is whether defenses are able to adjust to his running and keep him in check, forcing him to have success through the air. There’s no doubt he has the upside to be a league-winner, but we have seen an instance like this before with Robert Griffin III and it didn’t end up well. His fantasy ceiling is essentially Cam Newton with worse wide receivers, and so long as he can adapt to what is sure to be a stacked box every game, he is going to be the largest indicator of success for a Ravens team in a wide-open AFC North.
2019 Breakout Player
Willie Snead, Wide ReceiverSnead has had moderate success in the NFL as the secondary option but never really has had his time in the spotlight until now. In 2018-19 he was plenty serviceable as the Ravens’ top receiving option, racking up 651 yards on 62 receptions, but he wasn’t a red zone threat and only found the end zone once. We should expect his numbers to get boosted up a bit with the Ravens dropping Michael Crabtree in the offseason, which should free up extra marketshare for the other wideouts.
We shouldn’t expect the Ravens to come close to their passing numbers from last year with an entire year of Lamar Jackson, but 70-80 catches and 1,000 yards is entirely within the conversation for Snead, and we pretty much have to assume he will get more than one touchdown on the year. It’s worth considering him as a breakout in what will be his first season as a true WR1 on an offense.
Final ThoughtsOutside of a couple key pieces, you aren’t going to find much fantasy relevancy here. A team that runs the ball upwards of 30 times per game is only going to be able to support one WR in terms of upside, and depending on the packages the Ravens run out of it might only maintain one relevant running back to compliment the QB. The defense will continue to be solid under scheme and the strength of schedule against a faltering division should keep them within the status quo. If you sense early in the season Jackson is getting shut down, it would be smart to jump ship as he is the key to their success.
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