XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 11 kicks off with Cincinnati facing off with Baltimore for a 46 total game with the Ravens favored by 4. Tee Higgins looks likely to miss for the Bengals, while the Ravens have Odell Beckham Jr. listed with a sore knee but he wasn’t on the initial injury report so it seems likely that he’s just getting some rest but will play. The Bengals, after a slow start due to Joe Burrow’s preseason calf injury, have won four of their last five games while scoring at least 24 points in four of them, while the Ravens are coming off of a tough upset loss in a game they were up by multiple scores. Still, the Ravens have scored 30+ points in four straight games while their defense is allowing the fewest points per game. After so many island games involving the Jets, the Giants, the Raiders, and other bottom-barrel teams, this is a fun one to write up. Let’s dig in.
The Ravens backfield is always a mess. Gus Edwards is the lead back but he’s a 2-down back who is averaging just 12 carries per game and 50 yards per game. His fantasy production is propped up by touchdowns. He has yet to reach 100 yards rushing in a game but he has eight end zone trips. The Ravens, of course, score a lot of touchdowns, and Gus is reasonably priced at $7,000, but he’s almost certainly going to need to score in order to find his way into the optimal lineup. His touchdown equity is solid, but at $7k, I personally will be underweight as I don’t like spending $7k on guys who don’t have paths to success without an end zone visit. Behind Gus is rookie phenomenon Keaton Mitchell, who has seen 12 NFL carries so far but has games of 23.4 and 13.6 Draftkings points on the strength of two long touchdown runs. He’s no longer dirt cheap, and the volume in the Ravens backfield is always shaky, so he’s essentially a very similar play to Gus: a low volume back who will need a touchdown to pay off. Gus is the favorite to lead the backfield in touches, though I do expect Mitchell’s role to continue to grow and he has better per-touch upside. Justice Hill is fading away with the emergence of Mitchell, but can still be used as a punt play, and the same goes for fullback Patrick Ricard, who could always luck into a random touchdown. Both are thin MME plays.
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The Ravens passing game is generally a low volume group that relies on high efficiency (much like the Ravens as a whole, really). Zay Flowers leads the wide receiver group and has roughly a 25% target share – good, except that has only amounted to 6.8 targets per game. Flowers is a guy I’ve mostly avoided on main slates due to lack of ceiling, but Showdown is a very different beast, and here at just $7,600, he’s a strong play as his modest volume is accounted for in his price. When the Ravens pass in the red zone (which is not often), Flowers is second on the team in targets with 10, and that’s resulted in just one touchdown so far this season, but the volume supports more and we can lean into regression here. Behind Flowers, Rashod Bateman’s role seems to be climbing, with 62%, 57%, and 74% of the snaps in the last three games. The oft-injured Bateman is talented but has struggled to convert that into fantasy production this season, having yet to reach even 10 Draftkings points. Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. round out the receiving corps, with Beckham on the field less often but having a couple of scores to boost his production, while Agholor’s role has dipped of late as Bateman has been playing more, resulting in just one or two targets in each of the last four games. Behind Flowers, the volume gets thin really fast. Personally, I view these guys all as highly volatile options.
Tight end is led by Mark Andrews with Isaiah Likely mixing in occasionally. Andrews, of course, is the other primary weapon in the passing game, but like Flowers, the overall low volume nature of this offense has limited him to just 5.9 targets per game. He’s outperformed Flowers on a per-catch basis and he also has a robust red zone role of 13 targets with six of those leading to touchdowns. The difference between Andrews and Flowers is narrower than their fantasy outputs would lead you to believe, with Andrews’ outperformance coming almost entirely from touchdowns – something that’s highly volatile and hard to predict from game to game. They’re obviously the two best plays of the Ravens pass catchers, but I think they’re closer to 50/50 than projections might account for.