The 2020 NFL season is mere months away! It also means that the fantasy football season is approaching. For Baltimore Ravens fans, this means figuring out if and when to select their favorite Ravens players, while still building a competitive fantasy team.
In this series, I will break down the Ravens offensive players with fantasy potential, as well as the D/ST for the Ravens. I will discuss their 2019 performance, factors that may determine value this upcoming season, and predict where you should be drafting each player.
Let’s begin the series by breaking down the 2019 MVP himself: Lamar Jackson!
Looking Back At 2019
2019 Season Achievements
So much for a sophomore slump! Jackson had a year to remember in 2019. He finished the regular season throwing for 3147 yards and 36 touchdowns while committing just six interceptions. In addition, he rushed for 1206 yards and added 7 rushing touchdowns. The rushing yards were the most by a quarterback in a single season in league history.
What makes his performance even more impressive is that he did it in only 15 games, while also sitting out the entire 4th quarter of five of those games. When looking at all of his accomplishments, it is no surprise that he was named the Most Valuable Player.
2019 Fantasy Value
Jackson was a Fantasy Football monster in 2019 in all league scoring systems. According to FantasyPros.com, Jackson finished as the scoring leader in Standard scoring and Half PPR leagues. He finished second in scoring in PPR leagues, with only Christian McCaffrey scoring more.
Teams that drafted Jackson got tremendous value and most likely did quite well in their fantasy leagues. According to FantasyPros.com, who analyzed Jackson’s Average Draft Position (ADP) among six major commissioner sites, he was the 15th quarterback drafted. Expect Jackson’s ADP to be one of the most drastically improved among all players in 2020.
Read my five takeaways from the Baltimore Ravens 2020 schedule here.
Fantasy Profile: Looking Ahead to 2020
The Ravens bring back all of Jackson’s top offensive weapons, while adding a couple of new intriguing pieces this season.
In the receiving game, they return their top three wide receivers. Among them, second-year player Hollywood Brown is poised for a potential breakout year and is a serious fantasy sleeper (more on that in a future article). Also returning is tight end Mark Andrews, who was Jackson’s favorite target last year. If he’s healthy, he should be one of the best offensive tight ends in the league.
The Ravens also added two wide receivers in the draft, Devin Duvernay and James Proche in the 3rd and 6th rounds respectively. Duvernay especially looks to play a significant factor in improving the 24th ranked passing attack a year ago.
In the running game, the Ravens bring back all three of their running backs from their top-ranked rushing attack in 2019. They also drafted J.K. Dobbins in the 2nd round of this year’s NFL Draft and who should be an immediate big-play threat. Mark Ingram is set as the starter and should garner early-round fantasy draft considerations. Dobbins and the rest of the stable of backs should still get plenty of touches in this run-heavy offense.
Overall, the Ravens made an effort to give Lamar Jackson more receiving weapons this offseason. Additionally, adding a starting-quality rookie running back to an already-dominant rushing attack should open up opportunities for Jackson in the passing game as well. All of this should lead to positive fantasy projections for Jackson in 2020.
The Offensive Line Factor
The Ravens will bring back most of what was a very good offensive line in 2019…with one significant omission. For the first time in over a decade, the Ravens will trot out a starting line without Marshal Yanda. The eight-time Pro Bowler was a steady presence in the passing game and a straight up mauler in the running game. Yanda played a huge role in the Ravens offensive success last year and it remains to be seen how much he will be missed.
If Yanda cannot be adequately replaced, this could have a significant impact on Jackson’s performance in a few ways. If the offensive line can’t open up holes for the running game, it will force Jackson into obvious passing downs. This makes the offense more predictable and less dangerous. Also, if Yanda’s replacement can’t hold up in pass protection, it will give Jackson less time to sit in the pocket and make accurate throws, or forces him to scramble more than he would like to.
Lamar Jackson’s fantasy success this year will depend heavily on the success of the offensive line.
Coaching and the Offensive system
The Ravens were able retain offensive coordinator Greg Roman after he became a top head coaching candidate earlier this offseason. He should continue to engineer a run-heavy offense, which sets up Jackson well to use his feet off of play action. Jackson showed more than capable of making accurate passes while on the move, or running for a first down on his own.
A major key to Jackson’s success last year was the pistol formation. It gives Jackson the option of handing the ball off to the running back lined directly behind him or keeping the ball himself. This gives Jackson the freedom to use his excellent decision-making skills and superior athleticism to keep the opposing defenses guessing.
From a fantasy perspective, Lamar Jackson can only benefit from playing within the same offense for the second year in a row.
Fantasy predictions for 2020
I predict that Jackson will have a similarly dominant season for fantasy owners in 2020 as he did in 2019. He should be able to increase his passing yardage and completion percentage as he develops as a natural passer. Jackson may not be able to match his 1206 rushing yards from last year, especially if you believe his own words. He doubts that he is “going to be carrying the ball a lot going into the future,” per Clifton Brown of the Ravens official website.
If you really want to draft Jackson, expect to draft him in rounds 2-3 of most 10- or 12-team leagues, and rounds 1-2 in 16-team leagues.