As we rapidly approach the fantasy football season (some of you reading this are already knee deep, I’m sure), I’ve begun my initial scouring of the well-known fantasy sites to gather info and generate data on which players are ranked where, which ‘fantasy guru’ rankings appear as the anomalies, and figure out what they see that everyone else doesn’t.
Yea, it’s a serious problem, I know.
Let’s take a quick dive into the Ravens fantasy prospects and how I feel they compare to the fantasy gurus over at ESPN (Matthew Berry, Mike Clay, Matt Bowen, Tristan Cockcroft, Eric Karabell, Field Yates).
Highest rank: QB14
Lowest rank: QB20
Assessment: Lamar Jackson isn’t going to give you any reason to believe he’s going to light up the night skies with his arm; however, the fantasy point system accounts for total QB yards, not just those gained through the air. Lamar can make up for some of those passing yards with rushing yards… except by all outward appearances, the Ravens plan on limiting his legs this year (rightfully so).
I think 17th is fair. His ceiling is likely 10th in terms of fantasy (assuming his accuracy improves and he’s asked to throw more/run less while YAC racks up yards in the Roman track meet system), but I personally won’t be drafting him this year.
Highest rank: RB17
Lowest rank: RB27
Assessment: Mark Ingram is such a wildcard for Baltimore’s rushing attack. Will he be the bell cow for the first time in his career at age 30? Will he be relegated to split-back touches with Gus Edwards? I tend to believe the latter, simply because it would be foolish to drastically cut touches for Gus after he put up 5+ ypc in 2018. I figure somewhere in the 50%-40%-10% range for Ingram, Gus, Hill, respectively.
If the backs split as I believe they will, Ingram coming in around 17th-20th makes sense as he’ll likely lead the RB committee in total yards each week, but lose some goal line touches to Gus. PPR leagues I’d push Ingram up to the 12th-15th range.
Highest Rank: RB57
Lowest Rank: Unranked (outside of top-RB60)
Assessment: This is an inexcusable slap in the fact for the Ravens sophomore running back. Last season, Gus Edwards didn’t get a worthy look at the field until the second half of the year, and if you projected his 17.4carries per game at the 5.36 ypc he rocked in that stretch, he would’ve been the NFL rushing leader.
So why is Gus so low??
My guess here is that the fantasy dorks at the four-letter network expect Ingram to be a 80-20 type bell cow (despite their ranking for Ingram being so low), which severely limits Gus’s usage. I scoff at that notion based on the type of player he is, and the offense the Ravens will be running. Even if you think Ingram gets 20 carries per game, understanding that Jackson’s rush attempts will be reduced means more carries for the backs, thus likely to bump Gus back into a 12-15 carries range.
For me? Edwards should be RB25-30 range, simply based on his chunk yards and attempts he’ll be getting each game. I still think he has bell cow ability, but that’s just not happening with Ingram and rookie Justice Hill in town.
Lowest: Unranked (outside of top-WR60)
Assessment: Brown is a curious case to project. As of today, we still have no idea if he’ll be ready to roll during Training Camp (although speculation says he will be), but even if he is? The Ravens’ run-first offense will limit his targets on a weekly basis. Then there’s also my “proven-not-prove-it” theory that Harbs simply doesn’t like to start rookies, as he trusts vets who have proven themselves over letting rookies prove themselves on the field. Look no further than the 2018 season, when Orlando Brown Jr. proved himself in camp and the preseason to be the undoubted Right Tackle the Ravens needed Week 1… yet Harbs went with James Hurst…for weeks upon weeks, until his hand was forced.
All of that said, I think this is actually going to be low for the first-round rookie wideout. He may not be the primary option in this offense (I think we’ll see more Tight End and Running Back targets) but when he gets the rock? Watch out! He’ll be a 5/90/1 kinda kid that I believe works his way into the WR30-35 conversation.
Assessment: What the ass is this ranking?! Based on sheer stats alone among 2018 NFL Tight Ends, Mark Andrews ranked 19th in receptions, 16th in total yards, and 10th in yards per catch… and he did that coming off the bench for the better part of the season. Now headed into 2019 where it’s expected Andrews is the Ravens TE1, how can these experts expect regression??
I think every one of these Andrews rankings by the pros is garbage. Andrews is going to be a top-10 NFL Tight End in 2019 (remember – Lamar throwing more and Andrews was a favorite target last year!) and you should be able to steal him in drafts as your 2nd Tight End on the bench.
Assessment: Hayden Hurst notably dealt with a plate and bolt situation in his foot prior to the 2018 season, which curbed him for a few weeks, and never fully felt that it healed (his words – not mine). As such, the stat sheets remained barren for the most part as he was parked behind Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, and Andrews. I have expectations that his game will improve in 2019 with a clean bill of health…but if he wants that TE1 spot, he’s literally going to need to steal it from Andrews…which I don’t see happening.
I think TE29-32 isn’t far off. Hurst will get his targets for sure, but it will never be more than TE2 behind Andrews. Even so, if the Ravens use a lot of intermediate routes between the numbers, this plays to Hurst’s strengths. There’s a lot of NFL teams that don’t even have one good Tight End- we have two!
Assessment: Yeah, that’s about right.
Assessment: Wow. That’s… quite the disparity. I’m assuming this breaks down the fantasy dudes into two groups: the ones who believe losing C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs & Za’Darius Smith means the Ravens regress, and those that realize the Ravens defense is always a reload away from a top-10 unit, that also happened to add Earl friggin’ Thomas, Jaylon Ferguson, and took a few shots on guys like Shane Ray and Pernell McPhee to help an ailing pass rush.
Ultimately, the deciding factor in fantasy tends to be turnovers, which the Ravens struggled with last year (17 turnovers forced – 27th in the NFL). This is awful to say, but from a fantasy perspective – strictly fantasy – I can see the Ravens being in the 8-12 range, while still having a top-5 defense, with the majority of the points coming from keeping opponents off the board, while simultaneously not creating enough turnovers to put them in them top-5 conversation where we’d love to see them.