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Lamar Jackson can regress and still have epic 2020 season behind elite Ravens squad

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Baltimore Ravens.

Even if Lamar Jackson doesn't replicate his historic rushing totals from 2019, at what draft position does he make you forgo the late-round QB philosophy in 2020?

Andy: First of all, let’s note that Jackson averaged 79.4 rushing yards per game over the final seven weeks of his rookie season and 80.4 rushing YPG last year. As long as he remains healthy, I expect him to continue piling up rushing yards at a similar rate. It actually wouldn’t shock me if his rushing TDs increased a bit in 2020. The area in which I think we need to expect some regression is Jackson’s passing TD rate; he led the league at 9.0 percent last season, which is simply not the sort of rate anyone maintains over multiple years.

In any case, I think both Jackson and Patrick Mahomes get interesting near the Round 3/4 turn. Those guys belong to a tier of their own. Over the past two years, they’ve produced the highest-scoring QB season in fantasy history (Mahomes) and the highest-scoring QB season on a per-game basis (Jackson). Either can be a league winner. Generally speaking, I’m going to land RBs and WRs with my first three picks. After that, I’m willing to take a shot with one of the top two QBs.

Dalton: This hypothetical would never happen, because it would be at least Round 5 before I’d even start debating taking a quarterback in a non-superflex league. The running back position is simply too important not to attack early, and quarterback is deeper than ever. It’s also safe to expect LJax to regress some in 2020. We’d have to be at least 50 picks in before I’d consider drafting Jackson (or any QB in any year).  

Liz: I agree with Andy that Jackson’s rushing ceiling has yet to be met. In his first year with OC Greg Roman the 2019 MVP averaged nearly 7 yards per attempt and over 80 rushing yards per regular season contest. Marshal Yanda’s retirement certainly leaves a hole at right guard, but the franchise is high on second-year player Ben Powers as well as Joe D'Alessandris’ ability to coach up raw talent.

Roman has a knack for optimizing the explosiveness of a mobile QB and Jackson certainly has the talent to ascend. It’s also possible that the potential regression in his passing efficiency (112.5 True Pass Rating, QB2) is made up for by an increase in productivity, when considering consistent health from Marquise Brown and growth from Miles Boykin.

I, in fact, recently completed a Best Ball draft in which I selected Jackson at the end of the second round, just ahead of the turn. I would likely do the same in Super Flex formats. In standard redraft, however, I’d prefer to focus on RB in the first three or four rounds (depending on draft position) and roster a mobile QB like Kyler Murray in the fifth.

This is an offense situated around the running game. Can a fantasy manager conceivably draft both Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and be fine, or should one RB be prioritized over the other?

Liz: Dobbins was my No. 1 ranked RB heading into this year’s NFL draft. His three-down skill set, authoritative running style, and experience as a pass protector align perfectly with the Ravens’ scheme and style. But Mark Ingram is still it. Sure, he’s 30-years-old, but he’s also a key piece of Baltimore’s team culture, which is something the franchise has historically valued in veteran players. Furthermore, Baltimore doesn’t have a contractual out until 2021

It makes sense then that as long as he’s healthy, Ingram will work as the team’s RB1. Therefore, I’d prioritize the vet over the rookie, BUT if a manager made a different player or positional choice in the fourth round (which is where Ingram seems to be coming off the board) then I’d certainly target Dobbins in the double-digit rounds. Ultimately, having a piece of this rushing attack should be #goals.

Dalton: Considering the Ravens ran for nearly 1,000 more yards than the No. 2 team last year, both Ingram and Dobbins could finish as viable fantasy RB2s in 2020. But I’m prioritizing Dobbins, who’s younger and seemingly a perfect fit coming from a similar RPO system in college. Baltimore management loves the rookie and graded him as their No. 1 RB and as a first-rounder in the draft, and he’s coming off a final season at Ohio State that was more productive than Ezekiel Elliott’s. The Ravens don’t throw to backs much and Ingram remains (although he’s 30 with an injury history), but given his situation and talent, Dobbins has legit first-round fantasy upside as a rookie.

Andy: There’s little question at the moment that Mark Ingram is the guy at the top of this team’s backfield depth chart. He’s an excellent all-purpose back coming off a terrific season (5.0 YPC, 15 TDs). Of course he’s also 30 years old; Dobbins was drafted as both his understudy and, in all likelihood, next year’s starter. You can certainly draft both Ingram and Dobbins on the same roster, because Baltimore’s rushing offense is exceptional. Plenty of carries to go around, more than any one back can handle. But it should go without saying that you’d never actually start both Dobbins and Ingram in the same week. That feels like a low-probability bet. Ingram enters the season as the team’s No. 1 back, and, again, he feasted a year ago.

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With Hayden Hurst out of the picture, what do you think Mark Andrews’ ceiling is in 2020, and are you drafting him as such?

Dalton: He scored 10 touchdowns over 15 games while seeing limited snaps last season, when he finished No. 2 in yards per route run among tight ends, so his ceiling is the No. 1 fantasy tight end. Andrews has seen a nice increase in target share whenever Hurst has been out, and he’s now in Atlanta with all signs pointing to Baltimore throwing more in 2020, so Andrews shouldn’t be ranked behind any tight ends other than Kittle or Kelce.

Andy: I’m fully in agreement with Dalton on this one. The statistical ceiling for Andrews is something like 85-1100-12, which would obviously land him atop the scoring leaders at his position. He was phenomenal last year, while playing through injury for much of the season. He needs to be one of the first three tight ends off the board.

Liz: In 2019, Andrews drew 98 targets, of which nearly 20 percent were in the red zone. Hurst, on the other hand, managed 40 looks and 4 total deep targets. It’s possible that Andrews’ volume decreases slightly if Lamar spreads the ball around more between Brown and Boykin, but Andrews’ ability in contested situations, emergence as a deep threat, and prowess after the catch make him a top-four fantasy prospect at the position… with or without Hurst on the roster. 

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

Baltimore Ravens projected 2020 lineup

#FantasyHotTaek

Andy: If you wanted some sort of regression take on Lamar Jackson, you got the wrong guy. He can regress a fair amount and still comfortably finish among the top fantasy QBs. Instead I’m gonna say that Marquise Brown makes a second-year leap in terms of total production, drawing over 100 targets and finishing as a top-24 receiver for fantasy purposes. Hollywood was a highlight machine as a rookie, but he was operating at less than 100 percent health all year. He clearly has 1,000-yard potential in 2020.

OVER/UNDER on 11.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Dalton: The Ravens are loaded, with an emerging defense, superstar quarterback (and developing star wideout Hollywood Brown) and strong coaching; they are rightfully one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. But it’s difficult to win 12 games in the NFL, especially coming off a first-place schedule and in a division featuring three other teams all expected to be much better in 2020. It’s always safer to take an under, and this is especially true when fading a team with a QB who’s more likely to get injured while attempting 175-plus rushes. But I’m not fading the Ravens here as much as I am the number, so give me the UNDER.

Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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