And we’re back! Last time we took an in depth look at why Odell Beckham Jr is the best fantasy football value you can buy in Cleveland, and this week we move on to the Baltimore Ravens. Finding an underrated fantasy prospect on a prolific scoring offense isn’t easy, but never fear, we’ve got it covered.
Before we get into it, a reminder of the point of the following exercise. This is not about who will score the most fantasy football points in 2020; rather, who will get you the best value based on their draft position, their output, and their opportunity.
For reference, the following stats are taken from a few different sources, all of which are worth your time to look at.
The ADP is fantasyfootballcalculator.com, which provides exceptional tracking data for ADP’s over the year. The rankings are taken from various sources, most prominently our very own TimeSkew fantasy rankings, which project scores and stats for the 2020 season.
The Ravens rewrote the history books in 2019.
They tore up opposing defenses with a potent rushing attack that totaled 21 TD’s and racked up 3296 yards, the most in NFL history (and nearly 1000 more yards than the second-ranked 49ers). Couple this with a 37 TD passing campaign from MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were unstoppable through the regular season.
The team averaged 33.2 points per game, around three points higher than the second-placed 49ers. They scored 531 total points, 52 more than the #2 team and they scored 64 total touchdowns; eight more than the closest competition.
The stars of the show?
Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Lamar himself led the way in the historic rushing attack, while Mark Andrews and “Hollywood” Brown both emerged as top-end targets. So, in such a prolific and productive offense, who exactly is flying under the radar enough to provide good value on the Ravens in 2020?
If we ignore the “flying under the radar” aspect of this, the obvious answer to the question is Lamar Jackson. His ADP remains in the second round, simply because taking a QB in round one is still considered a risky fantasy football strategy by most. I am a firm proponent of taking the points and taking them early and Jackson is projected as the QB1 by most due to his inhuman rushing ability coupled with his redzone success through the air.
There’s no doubt that he stole the show in 2019, finishing top of the overall pile in terms of fantasy points scored. Grabbing this production in the second round seems like a no brainer. That said, my advice if you don’t have one of the top three picks? Take Lamar.
But you all know that. It’s no secret. And quite honestly, no-one wants to read another piece on how good Lamar will be in fantasy football. Especially when our fine Ravens writers have already tackled this in detail. So let’s explore a Ravens player that underperformed last year, but is in a good spot to produce beyond his ADP in 2020.
Miles Boykin – wide receiver
Miles Boykin is at the very edge of being drafted in most leagues, and in most, will fall off the radar entirely. When this exercise started around a month ago, Boykin’s ADP hovered around 14.04 and his projections ranged between the WR69 and WR89 off the board. In the most recent statistics, Boykin has firmly fallen away from fantasy consideration, clocking in as the WR90 in most leagues and our own TimeSkew rankings placing him at the lowly position WR99.
Taking a quick look at the players ranked around or above Boykin, and you can clearly see the general perception of the second year pass catcher. The WR89-85 list isn’t exactly a who’s who of fantasy darlings:
At 6’4″ and 220lbs, boasting 4.4 speed and one of the best vertical jumps the combine has ever seen, Boykin looked ready to feast on defensive backs in 2019. But, his 2019 season seemed more in line with his underwhelming college production (three years/77 receptions/1206 yards/11 TD’s) and was hampered by the Ravens ground-based attack.
So we’ve established that if he performs in any way come 2020, he is a bargain. Now let’s look at why he will outperform those miserable rankings.
Speaking of second-year players who coaches are expecting to break out, Harbaugh said he has “really high hopes” for wide receiver Miles Boykin. Boykin…should have a bigger role in 2020 and could be a starter opposite Brown. “He’s a big, fast and talented guy,” Harbaugh said.As per baltimoreravens.com
Reflecting on 2019
The 2019 chapter on Miles Boykin is short and underwhelming on the surface. 13 catches for 198 yards and 35-40 fantasy points depending on format. But, dig a little deeper into this tiny sample size and the three touchdowns, 10 first downs, and 186 of those yards in the air before the catch become a little more impressive.
People leaping to the defense of the hyper-athletic second-year receiver immediately point to his blocking prowess as a WR. They’re not wrong in this regard. Take a look at the below from his final year at Notre Dame (Boykin lines up at the bottom of the screen):
A good run blocking receiver is a necessity in an offense that plans to run the ball as the foundation of their offense, and Boykin’s hard work in the run game is a massive positive. Unfortunately, pancakes don’t win you fantasy football leagues.
Fortunately, the level of expectation on Boykin as a third-round pick was fairly low, giving him time to develop. He showed flashes of his extreme athleticism with some thrilling grabs (see above) and some great catches on the perimeter; an area neglected by an otherwise potent Ravens offense.
Lamar Jackson was exceptional by any standard in 2019, but every player has an area of improvement and deep perimeter shots are Jackson’s. As you can see from the below, Jackson was well below the league average rating where passing deep to his left, the spot where Boykin lined up for nearly 50% of his snaps.
Did the draft impact Boykin?
The new kids on the block are talented, no doubt about it. Devin Duvernay and James Proche are both talented rookies that could secure a rotational spot in the line up sooner rather than later. But taking into account that around 68% of Boykin’s snaps came from an outside receiver position, it seems unlikely that the two rookies (both of which project as slot receivers) will prise this snap percentage from him.
How does 2020 shape up?
With the offseason fantasy football hype train steaming along the tracks nicely for most teams, most of the noise around the Ravens has centered on Lamar’s desire to use his arm more and run (a little) less.
“I feel like we need to hit a lot more deep passes that we didn’t last year…I doubt if I’m going to be carrying the ball a lot going on in the future,” Jackson said. “We’ve got dynamic running backs. We’re going to have even more receivers. We’ve got Hollywood, Mark Andrews, Nick (Boyle), Willie Snead, Miles (Boykin). We’re going to be pretty good. I don’t think I’ll be running a lot.”As per baltimoreravens.com
This can only signal positive things for Boykin as he looks to improve on his underwhelming rookie campaign. Boykin excelled in college at going up for and snagging deep passes from far less accurate QB’s than his MVP signal-caller in Baltimore, and more opportunity means more value.
Boykin looks like an undervalued and undrafted fantasy football prospect that has room to develop in an offense that will have to evolve to experience the same success as 2019.
Our own TimeSkew rankings (30 targets/16 receptions/1 TD) certainly put Miles way out of useful fantasy consideration, but if all the above clicks into place for the second-year receiver, we might be looking back at Boykin as one of the best waiver pickups in 2020.
Value for your pick
If you take a glance back to his final season for the Fighting Irish, you can see Boykin’s numbers with only a modest uptick in receptions, creating a reasonable expectation for Boykin going into 2020.
Put the above stats into a fantasy football context and Boykin would have scored around 135 points in standard leagues, putting him firmly in the top 25 of scoring for receivers.
I hear you – 100 targets is a stretch, even with a large amount of positive spin. But having Boykin close in on a 50 reception season is definitely within the realms of possibility. So let’s take the expectation down to a sensible level and say Boykin secures 80% of the above (47 receptions/697 yards/6 TD’s) and we’re left with a 105 point player, which would have placed him just inside the top 40 in 2019 fantasy football.
The latest ADP’s have Boykin falling off the map entirely, positioning him as the WR90 or lower (as per fantasypros.com and TimeSkew rankings). Grabbing him at the very tail end of your draft as a shot in the dark, or keeping him in your back pocket for an early waiver wire claim is the way to go here. We could very well see Boykin outperform his pre-season ranking by over 50% and everyone wants to be that person who “just knew”.
Believe in Boykin.
Up next in the AFC North series – the Cincinnati Bengals…
Jack is an NFL nerd with a passion for player stories and watching too much draft coverage. He's a DB coach with the Exeter Demons University team in the UK and a Steelers fan.