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2020 Team Report: Baltimore Ravens

Last updated: Sat, Sep 5

Offensive Philosophy

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has had plenty of experience working with mobile quarterbacks, from David Carr in Houston to Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco to Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo. When Joe Flacco was injured in 2018, Roman was able to overhaul his entire offense practically overnight to suit the skills of rookie Lamar Jackson. After the season, Jackson's 2018 performance was much-discussed, with many noting that had played a full year at that level, Jackson would have broken every major quarterback rushing record on the books. When Roman and head coach John Harbaugh were asked about that heading into 2019, both men slyly suggesting that fantasy owners should bet the over. Both men were right. Jackson did indeed break the single-season quarterback rushing record by nearly 200 yards (despite sitting out a meaningless Week 16 contest). In fact, Jackson out-rushed all but five running backs, and the team as a whole rushed for more yards than anyone since the 1948 San Francisco 49ers in the now-defunct All-American Football Conference. But the real revelation was how Roman was able to tailor a passing game around Jackson's unique skills; far from a liability through the air, Jackson ranked 9th in yards per completion and led the league in touchdown passes with an opportunistic deep passing game that highlighted one of the youngest and fastest corps of receivers in the league. Fresh off an MVP campaign and with all of the critical players sporting another year of experience, the Ravens will look to recapture the magic on offense once again in 2020.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Lamar Jackson
Backup(s): Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley

Starting QB: Jackson entered 2019 as the first non-Joe Flacco Week 1 starter for Baltimore since 2007. Because he set the football world ablaze, it's hard to remember that many were doubting Jackson as a full-time starter heading into the year. 2020's questions are entirely different. Can the league adjust to Jackson? Will he continue to avoid the injuries many predicted for him in 2019? Can Baltimore repeat its 2019 success where they scored 52 more points than the second-highest scoring team? Jackson has virtually the same supporting cast that entered 2019 with question marks but exited as a versatile group of dynamic playmakers. The foundation is in place for this offense to be electric again.

Backup QB: Griffin enters his third season with Baltimore as the team's top backup again. His role of mentoring Jackson is perhaps his most important asset. If pressed into duty, Griffin's running ability would mean that the team's offensive philosophy wouldn't have to be completely overhauled. Griffin ran for 50 yards on 8 carries in his lone starting action last season -- a Week 17 game against Pittsburgh. McSorley's spot on the roster was secured in part due to a preseason injury to Griffin last season. With Baltimore wanting to protect Jackson in the preseason and Griffin out of the way, McSorley saw plenty of action and took advantage of the opportunity. He offers little-to-no upside, though, in terms of a future as a primary backup.

Running Backs

Starter: Mark Ingram
Backup(s): J.K. Dobbins [R], Gus Edwards, Justice Hill
Fullback(s): Patrick Ricard

Starting RB: Ingram was the team's leading rusher not named Lamar Jackson last year. With 202 carries, Ingram was well-utilized but not to the point that a 2020 decline should be expected. Ingram also scored 10 rushing touchdowns, the second-highest mark of his career. The other backs combined for only four, further highlighting Ingram's role as the top option in the backfield. Baltimore will continue to work in other backs -- as well as Jackson -- with its ground-first attack, making Ingram a valued asset but not a true workhorse.

Backup RBs: Dobbins was a somewhat surprising pick considering team needs, but he should fit right in with Baltimore's run-first mentality. As a player that averaged over 10 yards per reception in the past two college seasons, Dobbins provides the versatility that Baltimore's 2019 backups lacked. Edwards is mostly a one-dimensional player, evidenced by his nine career catches in 27 games. In the 2019 preseason, Hill was getting significant buzz as a player who could emerge later in the season due to his quickness and explosiveness. But with Baltimore being a contender all year long and no injuries ahead of him, Hill wasn't given much chance to emerge. Dobbins and Hill are a duo to watch entering 2020, though, as they could be a new wrinkle for an offense looking to sustain its edge over opposing defenses who will be striving to catch up.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin
Backups: Willie Snead, Devin Duvernay [R], Chris Moore, James Proche [R]

Starting WRs: Brown entered the preseason last year recovering from a Lisfranc surgery that took place in February 2019. Considering his limited action in training camp and the preseason, Brown's rookie year should be classified as a success, despite somewhat modest stats. More chemistry with Jackson and more experience in his second preseason should help to keep Brown's career arrow pointing up. Boykin was the "other" receiver drafted by Baltimore last season. His rookie year wasn't as successful as Brown's, but he did lead the team in yards per reception with 15.2. The team will look for Boykin to take a step forward this season, and his 6'4" frame should help in the red zone, especially as opponents key on Mark Andrews, the team's 2019 leader in touchdowns.

Backup WRs: Baltimore continued its efforts to rebuild its receiving corps by drafting Duvernay and Proche, two productive collegiate receivers who combined for 217 receptions in 2019 at Texas and SMU, respectively. Proche finished second in the nation, and Duvernay finished third, with only LSU's Justin Jefferson (and the extra game he was afforded due to the CFP National Championship Game) ahead of them. Duvernay has traditional size and speed but doesn't look as impressive with the ball in his hands as he does running his routes. Proche is the opposite of that, a sub-six-footer who lacks elite speed but made contested catches throughout his college career. Snead led the team's wide receivers in snaps last season and will continue to have a role in 2020. Even if Boykin ascends into a starting role, Snead is still the primary candidate to play the slot. He and Boykin will likely split a role as the team's second receiver, though neither is likely to be heavily targeted with the team's focus on running and multiple pass-catching options ahead of them. Moore enters his fourth season in Baltimore. Once thought to be a promising player with his 6'1" height and excellent deep speed, Moore hasn't emerged and is unlikely to do so with the selections of Brown and Boykin last season.

Tight Ends

Starters: Mark Andrews
Backups: Nick Boyle

Andrews entered 2019 with plenty of hype after showing a strong connection with Jackson during camp. And his athleticism and ability to create mismatches was evident throughout the season. Andrews led Baltimore in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns last season on 98 targets. He was fifth among all NFL tight ends in targets and yards last year and was the only tight end in the league to catch 10 touchdowns. The team sent Hayden Hurst to Atlanta in a trade this offseason, further solidifying Andrews' role. Nick Boyle's skill set is the polar opposite of Andrews. Boyle is a blocking specialist unlikely to contribute much more than the 31 receptions he logged last season.

Place Kicker

Justin Tucker: Tucker had a massive scoring season despite the lowest number of field goal attempts in his career. He had a whopping 57 extra points made (of 59 attempts) and his best field goal accuracy performance of his career, making 28-of-29 kicks. His production was hurt in field goal yardage bonus leagues because the team only let him try one 50+ yard attempt (which he made). Tucker did not miss a field goal attempt under 40 yards for the third straight year and continues to be the consensus #1 kicker in fantasy drafts, earning the record-breaking four-year, $23 million dollar extension he got last offseason.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Justice Hill, Willie Snead, James Proche

Justice Hill fielded kickoffs for the Ravens in 2019 and remains on the roster ready to handle them once again in 2020. Behind him, Willie Snead is a veteran option and speedy rookies (such as 6th round pick James Proche) could receive some looks as well.

Punt Returners: Willie Snead, James Proche, (player not yet on roster)

At punt returner, the Ravens have nothing but question marks; after the team parted ways with Cyrus Jones and De'Anthony Thomas there's not a player on the roster who has returned a punt in a Ravens uniform. Receiver Willie Snead has a little bit of return experience, and late-round rookies such as James Proche should get an opportunity, but don't count out the possibility that the Ravens' opening-day starter is not yet on the roster.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: OT Ronnie Stanley, OG Bradley Bozeman, C Matt Skura, OG D.J. Fluker, OT Orlando Brown Jr.
Key Backups: OG Tyre Phillips [R], OG Ben Powers

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley made All-Pro first team and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in his rookie season. Right guard Marshal Yanda retired this offseason, leaving a competition between veteran D.J. Fluker, Ben Powers, and third-round rookie Tyre Phillips from Mississippi State. The coaches favor a zone spread scheme like college, but these tackles thrive in the power game as well.

Team Defense

The Ravens tied for the league lead in defensive scores with four and posted a respectable 13 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries and 37 sacks, but they really shined at limiting opponent yards and points, finishing third in the league in both categories. They added Calais Campbell in an offseason trade to fortify the defensive line and drafted Patrick Queen to fill the hole left by CJ Mosley when he went to the Jets in free agency in 2019. The edge rush group is still thin and this won't be a dominant defense in fantasy leagues that don't score yards and points allowed, but they are being drafted very high nonetheless and should probably be passed on at their top 2-3 team defense ADP, even though they are definitely startable in fantasy leagues.

Defensive Line

Starters: NT Brandon Williams, DE Calais Campbell, DE Derek Wolfe
Backups: NT Daylon Mack, DT/DE Justin Ellis, DE Jihad Ward, DE Justin Madubuike [R], DE Broderick Washington

Starting DL: In years past the Ravens defensive line has been responsible for eating up space and blockers while keeping the second level players free to make plays. As a result, there has been relatively low statistical production from the front three. In 2019 for example, Baltimore's defensive line as a whole produced four sacks. This offseason the team seems to have changed their expectations by bringing in free agents Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe who accounted for 13.5 sacks between them last year. Campbell has at least five sacks every season since 2009 with a career average of almost 10 per year. Wolfe has been less prolific but is coming off a career-best seven sack season. Add in big-bodied Brandon Williams who will slide into the nose tackle position on a full-time basis, and you have a defensive front that can not only dominate the trenches but make game-changing plays in opponents backfields.

Backup DL: The only negative with Baltimore's starting front-three is that all of them are north of 30 years old. They all played a full schedule in 2019 but that did not stop the team from preparing for the future. Nose tackle Daylon Mack was a fifth-round pick last year, Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward are veterans with Ellis having starting experience. The team then used a third-round pick on Justin Madubuike and a fifth on Broderick Washington in this year's draft. Both rookies will compete for playing time in the defensive end rotation and have good long term upside.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Patrick Queen [R], ILB Malik Harrison [R], OLB Matt Judon, OLB Tyus Bowser/ OLB Jaylon Ferguson
Backups: ILB Chris Board, ILB L.J. Fort, ILB Jake Ryan ILB Chris Board, ILB L.J. Fort, ILB Jake Ryan, OLB Jaylon Ferguson

Starting LBs: The Ravens coaching staff did a great job of hiding their hole at inside linebacker in 2019. Heading to 2020 that hole has been filled. Patrick Queen was arguably the best inside linebacker in this year's draft. With his physical nature, speed, and coverage ability, he has the skillset to become a dominant player at the position. Queen was not the team's only addition at inside linebacker. In round three they added Ohio State's Malik Harrison who, with the lack of veteran competition, should also become an immediate starter. Harrison's skill set is a bit different than Queen's in that he is bigger and more of a downhill run defender. Harrison is fast enough but is better as a pass rusher than in coverage. Time will tell but these two rookies have the potential to become a dynamic tandem in years to come. Baltimore got adequate production from the outside linebacker position last season. Matt Judon led the way with a team-best nine and a half sacks while Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson contributed seven between them. With at least seven sacks in each of the past three seasons, Judon is established as a solid pass rush threat. Bowser recorded five sacks in his first season as a starter, which were the most of his young career. By making no additions at the position, it appears the organization is expecting continued improvement from him in year four.

Backup LBs: Depth at linebacker could become an issue for the Ravens. On the inside, they have journeymen L.J. Fort, Jake Ryan, and third-year man Chris Board, Fort has bounced around the league since 2012 and has proven to be a decent spot starter, but is not the kind of player to be counted on for any length of time. Ryan is a free-agent addition who may prove to be the top backup on the inside. He is a two-down run defender with some starting experience and a candidate for the top backup job. Board was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has 11 career tackles. He was only able to earn 66 snaps of playing time in 2019, despite the team's marginal starters at the position. The team has better quality on the outside in last year's third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson but they are lacking in numbers at that position. Ferguson is sure to see significant playing time as the third-man and could be in the mix for the starting job. Beyond Ferguson, however, Baltimore has no one at outside linebacker with NFL experience.

Defensive Backs

Starters: SS Chuck Clark, FS DeShon Elliott, CB Marion Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters, CB Jimmy Smith
Backups: S Brynden Trawick, S Anthony Levine Sr., CB Tavon Young, CB Anthony Averett, CB Iman Marshall

Starting DBs: Baltimore has assembled one of the league's best secondaries. They sported the number six pass defense in 2019 and could be even better in 2020. Chuck Clark replaced an injured Tony Jefferson at strong safety last season. Clark played well enough for the team to part ways with Jefferson. Clark is a good run defender with adequate cover skills and is a good scheme fit. At free safety is DeShon Elliott if the team doesn't make another move after releasing 11 year veteran Earl Thomas. Thomas had trouble getting along with his teammates and the team decided it was better to let him go than to try to smooth out the problems. While Baltimore is underwhelming at the safety positions, it is their talent at corner that stands out most. Marlon Humphrey has quietly become one of the game's elite cover men while Marcus Peters is arguably the best playmaking corner in the game. Peters has accounted for 33 turnovers in his five seasons as a pro. He gambles a lot and will give up some big plays, but makes far more than he allows. Even the nickel corner position will be manned by a high-quality player. Jimmy Smith is a former first-round selection and a long time starter for the Ravens.

Backup DBs: The Ravens secondary will not be as deep as they have been in the past, but they are still in good shape. Anthony Levine Sr. will compete with Brynden Trawick for the pecking order behind the starters at safety. Both are former undrafted free agents that have been in the league for three years. Levine saw a fair amount of action as Baltimore's third safety last season and is the early favorite for that job. Some of Baltimore's veteran depth at corner is gone but the team is high on Tavon Young. Young has impressed when healthy but has missed almost two full seasons with injury since being drafted in 2016. Both Anthony Averett (2018) and Iman Marshall (2019) are former fourth-round pick that the coaching staff has become comfortable with. They will contribute mostly on special teams but can step in defensively if called upon.