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Impact of J.K. Dobbins on the Ravens' Backfield


With the 55th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, the powerhouse Baltimore Ravens selected Ohio State standout J.K. Dobbins to bolster an already-impressive ground attack.

Dobbins joins a backfield that also consists of last season’s starter, fantasy RB8 for the season, Mark Ingram II, as well as reserves Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.

For fantasy enthusiasts, the automatic question becomes just how will the addition of an explosive talent like Dobbins impact the rest of the Ravens’ backfield?

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Ravens Rushing Attack

The Ravens were an offensive juggernaut in 2019, especially in the ground game. Baltimore led the NFL in rush attempts and yards per carry while finishing second in rushing touchdowns. This was both an efficient and voluminous attack. Due to Lamar Jackson’s presence, however, only 393 of the Ravens’ 596 rushing attempts actually went to the running back position.

Player Rush Att. Rush Yards Rush TD YPC
Mark Ingram II 202 1,018 10 5.04
Gus Edwards 133 711 2 5.35
Justice Hill 58 225 2 3.88

The Ravens outscored opponents by a staggering 15.6 points per game last season. It is safe to predict some level of regression for this offense as teams adjust to the unprecedented style of Lamar Jackson. While closer games may result in fewer rushing attempts, it should also lead to more time on the field for the team’s starters. Mark Ingram only received more than 15 carries twice last year, as the Ravens routinely went to backups late in games due to lopsided scores. With a defense that appears stout after the additions of Calais Campbell and first-rounder Patrick Queen, it is likely that game script will often favor the Ravens again this season. Therefore, although we can expect fewer overall rushing attempts, the dip should not be dramatic.

Ingram scored fifteen times in fifteen games last season. Unfortunately, he did so at an unsustainable rate, with five of those touchdowns coming through the air despite only catching 26 passes. The receiving touchdowns are extremely unlikely to be repeated, but Ingram should still able to chip in with a few scores in the passing game as an outlet option for Jackson when defenses collapse on him.

Ingram’s real value is in his efficiency on the ground, as well as his prowess near the goal line. Fortunately, Ingram’s success in these areas during his first year as a Raven should give the coaching staff little reason to fade him despite the addition of Dobbins. Further, any workload concerns should be offset by Ingram’s usage in valuable situations. Ingram ranked third in carries inside the five-yard line, seventh in carries inside the ten, and tenth in carries inside the twenty-yard line last season. Only Ezekiel Elliott’s and Dalvin Cook’s nine touchdowns from inside the five-yard line outpaced Ingram’s eight scores from inside the five.

Clearly, there is no reason to turn away from Ingram near the goal line. For a team that scored 21 times on the ground last season, those carries are going to prove incredibly valuable.

Rush Attempts Inside the Five-Yard Line

Player Rush Att. Rush Yards TD
Christian McCaffrey 17 15 8
Joe Mixon 16 12 4
Mark Ingram II 15 14 8
Nick Chubb 15 -14 2
Dalvin Cook 15 22 9

 

Workload Concerns

The Ravens afforded 191 carries to Gus Edwards and Justice Hill last season and Ingram still managed an RB8 finish. Those players are still on the roster, and the addition of Dobbins adds another mouth to feed, but this highlights Ingram’s ability to succeed in a shared backfield. In fact, Ingram managed an RB6 finish in 2017 despite splitting reps with Alvin Kamara, with the latter finishing as the RB3 that year. Ingram also finished as the RB9 in 2016 on only 205 carries and the RB12 in 2015 despite missing four games. A significant reason for Ingram’s continued fantasy success on limited workloads is his ability to find the end zone with regularity, as illustrated by the fact that Ingram has scored at least 9 touchdowns in four of the past six seasons despite missing twelve games during that span.

Dobbins is a dynamic and well-rounded back who was a consensus top-four pick amongst runners in this year’s draft. While Dobbins is unlikely to be a significant threat to Ingram’s status as the main option and goal-line back, he is likely to command a large portion of the carries that were formerly provided to Edwards and Hill. Edwards has proven effective when given the opportunity, having averaged 5.29 yards per carry since joining the Ravens. Therefore, Hill is likely to be the odd man out, with Edwards mixing in and stealing work from Ingram and Dobbins. Expect Ingram to be the clear RB1 and Dobbins the clear RB2, with Edwards providing a capable insurance policy.

Ravens’ running backs accounted for 393 rushing attempts a year ago. If the Ravens run at a similar level this season, there should be enough volume for Ingram to function as an RB2 and Dobbins to be in the mix as a flex option with incredible upside should Ingram succumb to injury. There exists the possibility of Lamar Jackson carrying the ball slightly less often this season, considering the reigning MVP set the quarterback rushing record last year. Although any reduction in carries for Jackson should be minimal, this still must be accounted for as it could lead to a few extra reps for the team’s running backs to offset some of the lost opportunity this season.

Dobbins is unlikely to handle as many carries as the Edwards-Hill combo did last year. Expect Dobbins to receive somewhere between the 133 carries given to Edwards and the 191 carries handled by the Ravens’ backup duo. Ingram was on pace for 215 carries last year but missed a game due to injury. That type of workload probably represents Ingram’s ceiling, but that output would have accounted for 54.7% of the team’s running back attempts last season. Even if Dobbins, Edwards, and Hill combine to receive over 200 carries it should still leave Ingram with a floor of roughly 180 attempts. Considering 180 carries would have only equated to 45.8% of the team’s running back attempts last year, it is clear that Ingram should fall somewhere within that range of outcomes.

 

Touchdown Dependent?

There is fear that Ingram could be somewhat touchdown dependent this season. However, this is the team to count on for rushing touchdowns. The Ravens found the end zone 21 times on the ground last season after scoring 19 times on the ground a year prior. The team’s running backs accounted for 14 of those 21 touchdowns in 2019.

Even if Lamar Jackson rushes for another seven scores this year, there should be plenty of touchdown opportunities for this backfield. Ingram scored 71.4% of the team’s running back rushing touchdowns last year and as highlighted earlier, there is no reason to believe the team will shy away from him in scoring situations. It seems unlikely that Ingram scores less than eight times on the ground and his ceiling includes double-digit rushing touchdowns.

Dobbins is unlikely to supplant Ingram as the team’s goal-line back, but he could nonetheless be in line for a handful of rushing scores in his rookie season. Edwards and Hill combined for four rushing touchdowns last year and Dobbins should receive at least that level of opportunity. Unfortunately for last season’s backups, minimal scoring opportunity seemingly exists.

 

Passing Game Usage

The Ravens’ backfield was not heavily utilized in the passing game last season, as the running back contingent of Ingram, Edwards, and Hill combined for only 51 targets. Edwards saw only seven targets and is unlikely to be involved in that aspect of the offense, and Hill is likely to experience a significant reduction in playing time. This leaves Ingram and Dobbins as the two running backs likely to share work in the passing game.

Ingram is an underrated pass catcher, as evident by his 154 receptions from 2015-17. That came with the Saints, however, and this season is likely to mirror last year’s limited output due to the Ravens’ lower volume passing attack and tendency to play from ahead on the scoreboard. Dobbins’ pass-catching ability profiles as a strength, but his pass protection capabilities have been highlighted as a concern. The main takeaway from this point is that Dobbins is unlikely to monopolize third downs, ensuring Ingram still sees the field in all situations. Expect Dobbins and Ingram to finish with similar numbers in the passing game, with a floor of 20 targets and a ceiling of 30, hurting both in PPR leagues but providing enough work to keep either from being zeroes in this department.

 

Range of Outcomes

The scariest part of projecting the Ravens’ backfield is the seemingly wide range of outcomes. Ingram’s outlook includes the risk of losing his job, but he also holds RB1 potential as the lead back in an elite rushing offense. The possibilities for Dobbins range from splitting work with Edwards as the clear backups to working in tandem as the team’s 1A-1B with Ingram.

The safest bet is to target Ingram as a mid-range RB2 who could prove a tremendous value if he reprises his role from last season while viewing Dobbins as an RB4 or low-end flex play with league-winning upside.

 

Draft Cost

Ingram is currently going as the 25th running back and 60th player off the board in drafts and represents a strong value as an RB2 with RB1 upside who is being drafted as an RB3. Ingram’s ADP matches that of Detroit Lions’ rookie running back D’Andre Swift, despite Ingram being much more secure in his role and functioning in a much greater offense.

Dobbins is being drafted as the RB35 and 93rd player overall. While this is not necessarily a tremendous value, he is being drafted behind players who do not hold nearly as much upside as the Ravens’ rookie. Phillip Lindsay, the RB33 according to ADP, faces a similarly murky path to carries, especially near the goal-line, and does not possess league winning upside. With the pandemic increasing the chances of starters missing games, Dobbins could quickly skyrocket up rankings.

For arguably the best rushing offense in the NFL, the Ravens’ running back duo of Ingram and Dobbins are bizarrely priced at an affordable rate in drafts. This appears to be due to concerns about volume, but do not overlook the value of running backs tied to good offenses. League winning upside is rarely available for such a discount and fantasy owners should be scooping up shares of this backfield in their quest for a championship.



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Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More