The beginning of the NFL season is (hopefully) getting closer! That means the fantasy football season is also almost here. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been focusing on the key fantasy players on the Baltimore Ravens. I’ve reflected on their 2019 performance and analyzed the factors that will affect them in fantasy in 2020. Lastly, I give my predictions on how each player will do in 2020 and give my advice on where you should target them in your fantasy drafts.
We continue our Ravens fantasy player profile series with rookie running back J.K. Dobbins.
Reflecting on 2019
Dobbins was nothing short of spectacular throughout his three years at Ohio State. His 2019 season was especially dominant when he broke Eddie George’s single-season rushing record with 2003 yards.
He averaged an impressive 6.7 yards per carry and totaled a whopping 21 touchdowns on the ground. As impressive as his numbers were, Dobbins backed them up with the eye test. He hit open gaps hard and showed elite burst in open space. Dobbins has exceptional change-of-direction ability and can stop on a dime. In addition, he has all the moves in the running back tool shed, using jump cuts, spin moves, and stiff arms in ways that made him extremely difficult to tackle.
An effective pass catcher?
One criticism going into this year’s draft was whether he could contribute effectively as a passer out of the backfield in the NFL. He was respectable, however, as a pass-catcher in 2019, adding 23 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
His hands are pretty reliable, although he did have two key drops in his last game against Clemson in the College Football Playoff, courtesy of Cleveland.com. As a rusher, he only fumbled the ball four times in 725 career carries, so that shouldn’t be a concern going forward, according to Fansided.
His lack of eye-popping numbers as a receiver is probably overrated, mostly because he was simply not called upon a ton to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Ezekiel Elliott, another Ohio State running back legend, had only 449 total receiving yards and one touchdown in three college seasons, according to Sports Reference. In his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott has 1619 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference. This shows that running backs of J.K. Dobbins’ caliber are certainly capable of developing into viable receivers in the NFL.
Key factors for 2020
A crowded RB stable
Dobbins is a first-round talent who is capable of carrying a large workload as a rookie. Unfortunately, he landed in a challenging situation for playing time in the Ravens backfield.
Dobbins is probably the favorite to back up Ingram going into training camp, but sharing carries with three other running backs could certainly hurt his viability in fantasy this season.
Greg Roman’s Offense
On the flip side, playing in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s run-heavy offense could offset the plethora of running backs the Ravens have for Dobbins.
Just how much did the Ravens run the ball last year? The Ravens ran the ball 596 times out of 1064 total plays, which comes out to just over 54%. In a league where offenses have become increasingly pass-heavy, this was safely the highest in the league, according to teamrankings.com The Ravens lead in virtually all rushing categories last season, including yards per game, yards per attempt, and first downs per game.
If the Ravens continue this rush-heavy trend in 2020, Dobbins should undoubtedly get enough carries to be a factor in fantasy football despite having to share the backfield with three other running backs.
The Lamar Jackson factor
The reigning NFL MVP has become arguably the most feared player for opposing defenses in the league. Defenses will have to account for Lamar Jackson’s ability to throw the ball or run it himself for massive yardage.
Because of this, Dobbins should greatly benefit statistically from the Jackson threat by seeing larger than normal holes open up, especially in the QB option offense.
Expect this factor to greatly improve Dobbin’s viability as a playable running back in fantasy football.
Looking ahead in fantasy
J.K. Dobbins possesses the ideal blend of size, speed, and production to become an elite fantasy football player in the foreseeable future.
Don’t expect to start him in Week 1 if you are looking to add him to your team. However, as Dobbins gets more comfortable in the NFL and running within the Ravens offense, expect him to earn a larger split of the overall carries in the second half of the season.
If the first padded practice of training camp open to the media is any indication, expect Dobbins to be a key contributor to your fantasy team by the second half of the season. Fantasy football fans should be salivating when reading tweets like this from Ravens sportscaster Gerry Sandusky:
Expect Dobbin’s ADP to be somewhere in the RB28-35 range in any draft scoring format. Since he is projected to be a backup running back, his carries will be more limited. This makes him slightly more valuable in STD scoring leagues than in PPR or half-PPR leagues.
He’s most likely a top 100 overall fantasy player despite being a rookie backup running back. Therefore, prospective owners should look to draft him as early as the 6th round in most 12-team leagues.
If you can steal him as your fourth RB on your roster, you will be in great shape to maximize Dobbins’ value to your fantasy team, but could still be viable as a FLEX start option in certain matchups this season.
PPR – RB29
Half PPR – RB31
STD – RB27