BAL @ LAR
Week 12 wraps up with the Ravens visiting the Rams. Baltimore is a 3 point favorite in a game with a 47 total, and I don’t mind saying that this is one of the toughest showdowns I have ever tried to pick apart. Both of these offenses have been tough to rely on this year, for wildly different reasons, but regardless of cause it’s pretty tough to point out plays in this one that can be made with a high degree of confidence.
Let’s start with the Ravens. First, let’s note that the matchup here is brutal: the Rams rank 3rd in DVOA against the run and are much more vulnerable in the air. That said, the Ravens unique run offense has been able to pick apart other strong defenses by virtue of being able to show so many different looks, so matchup matters at least a little bit less for Baltimore than it does for other rushing offenses. Mark Ingram is the “lead back,” such as that role is for BAltimore, but that only means around half the snaps (just under 50%, somewhat shockingly) and a workload that averages 13.6 carries and 1.9 targets per game. Ingram’s value has been propped up by a whopping 10 touchdowns. He’s priced up in elite back range in this showdown, and his usage just doesn’t justify that price tag, though of course if he scores another couple of touchdowns you’re in trouble if you don’t have him. Behind Ingram, Gus Edwards has been seeing a fairly equivalent share of snaps, though he’s only averaging about 7 carries per game and essentially zero pass game work. Justice Hill pops up every couple of games for a few touches as well, but his volume appears and disappears with little predictability. Overall here, Ingram has the strongest role but is fairly significantly overpriced for the volume and matchup. Edwards is priced around the kickers and could feasibly outscore them if he happens to land in the end zone. Finally, let’s note that Lamar Jackson is averaging 11.6 carries per game by himself (along with a ridiculous 6.7 yards per carry), which means he’s getting almost as much work on the ground as Ingram. Lamar has 22 red zone carries to Ingram’s 26, though Ingram leads more significantly in goal line carries at 11 to 3. All of this is just a lot of data to show what we already know: Lamar Jackson is the engine of this offense (of course, he’s also a rather staggering $13,600, so you’re paying to use that engine).
The Baltimore passing game is basically Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, and then a pile of rotational guys who are all kind of coin flippy. Andrews always makes me nervous personally because he perpetually plays 30-50% of the snaps, which is shockingly low for someone who is putting up the points per game that he has been. He’s getting a lot of usage while on the field, with just 2 games below 7 targets all year, but at $9,200 he’s a bit pricey for a 7-8 target guy. Marquise Brown hasn’t seen more than 5 targets since all the way back in week 4, but a combination of blowouts and injury could explain that. Perhaps oddly, the guy I feel the safest with next in the Ravens’ receiving corps is Nick Boyle, because he at least is playing 75%+ of the snaps and is the only guy who regularly does so. Boyle is a solid blocker, but just being on the field so much means that he has some extra opportunity to be the guy who’s left open or just get a dump off. At just $3,000 he’s a reasonably safe play. Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, Miles Boykin, Hayden Hurst….all of them are dart throws. Snead is the safest of all of them, while Boykin has the best chance of hitting 10 DK points on a single play with his deep threat speed, but all of these plays are pretty thin. Welcome to the Ravens receiving corps.
On the Rams’ side, we do have some hope for their rushing attack as Todd Gurley has played 74% and 75% of the snaps coming out of their bye week. He only saw 12 carries against Pittsburgh in week 10 (in a game in which the entire offense floundered), but he got 25 carries and 3 targets last week against the Bears, and looked pretty good doing it. It’s hard to take too much away from one game, but it could be the case that Gurley is “back,” or at least back to more like his 2018 usage. The Rams’ passing offense isn’t really working well but they’re still a playoff contender, so they could just be looking for whatever works. Baltimore is also something of a run funnel, ranked 3rd in DVOA against the pass but 25th against the run. It makes sense for the Rams to lean on Gurley as much as they can in this one, making him a strong play and underpriced if he really has returned to a 20+ touch role with pass game work. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson are only really usable if Gurley’s snaps drop again, unless you’re just hoping to catch a random touchdown.
In the pass game, Cooper Kupp should be one of the safest plays on the board, except he has a grand total of 7 targets in the last 2 games. I’m still confident rolling out Kupp in this one, but I’m not sure he’s the 100% lock play that he was earlier in the year. Plus, Kupp gets to square off with Marlon Humphrey, who has been one of the stronger corners in the NFL this year. Woods and Cooks will be on the perimeter tangling with Jimmy Smith and Marcus Peters, who are also highly rated corners. Normally I would say that in a situation like this I would lean towards Cooks, because he can do his damage on fewer catches, but coming back from yet another concussion makes me feel awfully nervous about him. This is probably just a personal bias, but poor Cooks has been so banged up so frequently that it’s hard for me not to view him as a larger than average in-game injury risk. The price on both Woods and Cooks is fantastic, though; at $7,000 and $6,600 they’re as cheap as I can remember them being since the showdown format debuted. Behind the wideouts, George Everett’s price has come down to just $4,800 after he saw just 1 target last week. Everett has been so heavily involved, though, that I’m not reading too much into that. The Rams have been using the tight end position more in the pass game this year and that’s a longer-term trend that has spanned the whole season. Finally, Tyler Higbee and Josh Reynolds are dart throws who are unlikely to have any impact without an injury in front of them.
The way this game is likeliest to play out is for Baltimore to do its thing, which is its weird multi-faceted rushing attack mixed in with passes to all depths and parts of the field. The Rams should try to keep things on the ground as much as they can, with Gurley likely staying heavily involved as long as the score doesn’t get out of hand. With one of the league’s best run defenses, the Rams have a better chance than most teams of hanging tough with the Ravens.
Some other ways the game could play out:
If the Ravens can spring things loose and get out to a decent lead, the Rams will need to get away from their ground game and go airborne.
Teams have had a hell of a time trying to stop the Ravens’ unusual but effective offense, but the Rams are one of the better defenses that Baltimore has faced, and they’re on the road…while I don’t think a blowout is likely, I do think it’s entirely plausible that the Rams win handily and no Raven outside of Lamar puts up a score that’s worth having given how they spread the ball around.
My overall favorite captain in this one is Lamar (duh), followed by Todd Gurley. Trying to pick a Ravens receiver as a captain is really just a shot in the dark, and it’s not much easier to pick one on the Rams, so I’ll likely have the vast majority of my captain exposure on those two.
Some groups to consider:
At most 1 kicker
At most 1 defense
Pair captain receivers with their QB
Pair captain Goff lineups with at least 2 receivers (captain Lamar can be run naked)
At most 2 Baltimore receivers not named Andrews or Brown
At most 2 of the 4 Rams trio of wideouts+Everett in Gurley-captained lineups
JM’s Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- If Barry Sanders could throw the ball, he would be Lamar Jackson. As such, it’s a bit silly to talk about “matchup” with Lamar; but since we have price to consider and can only roster one quarterback per week, it is worth noting that this is a very difficult matchup for Lamar. The Rams rank third in DVOA against the run and are elite at stopping the run to all areas of the field. And while they rank 17th in DVOA against the pass, they are a better unit in this regard than they were earlier in the year.
- The spread-around nature of the Ravens passing attack typically makes Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews tourney-viable for the upside, and makes everyone else a dart throw. That doesn’t change in this spot, though neither of the “core” pass game pieces for the Ravens would be priorities for me on the 14-game slate.
- The backfield for the Ravens obviously has a tough spot and is simply throwing up a touchdown-driven prayer.
- Lamar is such a do-it-all piece for the Ravens, he might still have had a Tier 1 spot if this game were on the Main Slate, but this would be one of the rare weeks this year in which I would not be going out of my way to make sure I had him. His ceiling remains intact, but his paths to reaching that ceiling are slimmer than they are in other weeks.
- The Rams seem likely to return Brandin Cooks and be without Robert Woods, and last week they returned to their ground-game roots by leaning on Todd Gurley as if it was 2018. It’s rare that I target this offense at the corresponding price tags (going back to last year), as it’s rare that a slate-winner emerges from this offense outside of Gurley (last year) and Kupp (this year) — and you have to pay handsomely for access to those potential points. There are simply other offenses I have preferred to target in DFS the last couple seasons (for the most part).
- With that said: we see slate-breakers come out of this offense on occasion; and while a matchup against the Ravens is not the best spot, this is a home game on Monday Night Football, and you could certainly make a case for carving out space on your roster for one of these guys. None of the Rams players would be in my core player pool if this were a 14-game Main Slate, but there are always options to consider.
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