:: Seriously. Grow bankroll! Hammer the edge on FantasyDraft.
Ravens at Seahawks is going to be one of the most fun games to watch in the NFL this season — and it’s one of the most enjoyable games to dig into and break down as well, as we have a fairly straightforward setup with upside available.
We’ll start with the Seahawks — a team whose games this year have produced totals of 41 // 54 // 60 // 47 // 59 // 60. The Seahawks get a lot of jokes thrown at them for how often they run the ball, but they run to set up deep passing — relying on the unique ability Russell Wilson has to drop tight-coverage dimes on deep passes, and trying to get safeties to bite on play fakes to create one-on-one looks. The Seahawks rank eighth in passing yards per game in spite of having thrown the ball only 31.5 times per contest.
This week, they are taking on a Ravens defense that is allowing a 7% increase on the league-average expected yards per target, and has been hit hard by wide receivers — allowing the ninth most catches and the fifth most yards to the position.
The next layer here, of course, is that Marlon Humphrey will be shadowing Tyler Lockett — and while some players ‘lower-case shadow,’ Humphrey truly Shadows: trailing his guy all over the field, including all slot snaps. Here’s a side-by-side comparison between Humphrey and Stephon Gilmore this year (per PFF) ::
Humphrey :: 48.3% completion rate allowed // 52.8 QB rating allowed // 3.2 catches for 32.2 yards allowed per game
Gilmore :: 47.6% completion rate allowed // 48.3 QB rating allowed // 3.3 catches for 44.3 yards allowed per game
Tyler Lockett can still hit in a tough matchup (he can make incredibly difficult catches on deep, tight-window throws from Russ), but chances are high that Lockett remains on the lower end of his target range — and with Will Dissly out of action and Luke Willson unlikely to emerge with a big role, we should be able to see five to seven targets for each of Jaron Brown and DK Metcalf in this spot (with David Moore potentially pushing for five looks himself). Each of these guys maintains a fairly low floor, but the upside as the pass game pieces catching the softer parts of the Ravens defense is worth keeping an eye on. (Regarding the addition of Marcus Peters :: there are things Peters does well; but the things he does poorly match up nicely with the things the Seahawks do well — trying to get opponents to be over-aggressive so they can hit them with a big play.)
Volume will continue to be an issue for Russ (he has topped 35 pass attempts only once this year, and he has finished shy of 30 in half his games), but if we expect this game to stay close — and if we expect the Ravens (who currently lead the NFL in yards per game) to put up enough points to keep Seattle somewhat aggressive — Russ carries plenty of upside in this spot that could have each offense getting increasingly aggressive as the game unfolds.
Joining Russ in the backfield will be Chris Carson, who has recent touch totals of 26 // 28 // 28. It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks play things in this spot, as the Ravens are facing the fourth highest opponent pass play rate this year with teams choosing not to attack them on the ground (outside of their breakdowns against Nick Chubb and a couple big plays to the Chiefs, the run defense has been a bright spot for this beleaguered defense), and to instead take advantage of the issues they’ve had through the air. It’s highly probable that the Seahawks still lean run-heavy — but this tilt in matchup elevates the chances that Russ pushes for 30+ attempts (which is really all he needs to make a push for one of the bigger scores on the slate).
We just noted that only three teams have faced a higher opponent pass play rate than the Ravens. The Seahawks are one of those three teams, as opponents are avoiding them on the ground and attacking through the air. This creates a particularly interesting setup for Baltimore. While the Seahawks are actually better at passing than they are at running, the Ravens are a much better team on the ground (first in DVOA) than they are through the air (18th), and the continued absence of Marquise Brown has left this team with tight ends, possession receivers, and one raw downfield threat in Miles Boykin.
Especially if Brown misses, it seems likely that the Ravens test the Seahawks on the ground anyway, as Seattle has been more “solid” than “scary” against the run. If the Ravens find success on the ground, they should be able to move the field and convert yards into points and stir up conditions that will be ripe for another 50+ point Seahawks game. If, on the other hand, the Ravens (who have been fortunate enough to face five bad run defenses through six games) struggle to get things going on the ground, we could see one of two things happen:
1) The Ravens take to the air and find success leaning on Mark Andrews (Seattle has struggled with tight ends this year, allowing the sixth most catches, the fourth most yards, and the fifth most touchdowns) and otherwise spreading the ball around behind the seven to nine looks he is likely to see. If the Ravens are able to put up points, Russ can be unleashed enough to push for ceiling, and this game environment as a whole will remain attractive.
2) The Ravens stall out on their first several drives — first because the run is unsuccessful, and then because they’re not able to get things going through the air — and the Seahawks take a two score lead and take the air out of this spot and try to slow things down as much as they can.
JM’s Interpretation ::
No matter how this game plays out, so much of the Ravens offense centers around Lamar Jackson that he remains a solid play for floor and ceiling — and if you’re willing to trust that a Russell Wilson offense will always find a way to score points in a softer matchup, you could also be willing to trust that Lamar is able to find a way to keep pace one way or another. With this thought (and with the fact that the Ravens are easier to pass on than to run on, and that the Seahawks are attackable through the air if the Ravens are unable to get the run game going), I like both quarterbacks in this spot quite a bit for tourneys. And given that the Ravens spread the ball across a broad range of pieces, and given that there are no guarantees among individual pieces in the Seahawks passing attack, I like both quarterbacks naked as well.
If moving elsewhere on the Seahawks ::
Carson is attractive for his role, and for the potential this game has to see points scored. The Ravens have been tough enough on the ground outside a couple isolated lapses that Carson isn’t lock-and-load, but he’s a solid tourney piece with obvious upside.
Any of Metcalf // Brown // Moore (in that order) could post a really nice game here if Lockett is slowed down by Humphrey, while Lockett can still hit in difficult matchups. It’s likely that none of these guys approach “tighter build” territory for me (and I’d be surprised if I found myself rostering Lockett, as that’s just not my style of play), but they all have paths to upside.
If moving elsewhere on the Ravens ::
Andrews is a really strong option at tight end, and is in the tighter build discussion for me at the front end of the week. I do think both teams find a way to put up points here; and if that happens, Andrews should be involved.
We have an interesting setup with Mark Ingram, in that he already comes with a lower floor than his price supports, as he’s tremendously touchdown-dependent; and this week we have the added uncertainty of a Seahawks defense that hasn’t been too scary on the ground, but that most teams are nevertheless choosing to not test. Because of Ingram’s monster role in the red zone, however (no one has more carries inside the five-yard-line, and only Christian McCaffrey has more carries inside the 10), he remains in the tourney “upside” conversation.
Behind these guys, it’s just “hoping Boykin breaks a long play” or “hoping one of these short-area targets falls into the end zone.” If looking to avoid that level of guessing, getting exposure to the Ravens’ passing attack through Lamar is a solid way to go.
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