After a lost 2021 season, Baltimore Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins is an intriguing name for dynasty fantasy football managers who try to evaluate his outlook for the 2022 season. With start-up drafts firing up and rookie drafts in the near future, how should dynasty managers value J.K. Dobbins heading into 2022?
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J.K. Dobbins’ dynasty profile for 2022
Before we look at his future, we need to revisit what Dobbins did last season. Let’s start with his rushing stats. 0/0/0. Well, that was quick. Uh, how about receiving utilization? 0/0/0. Well then. I guess my job is done.
Okay, back to being serious for a second. What happened to Dobbins last year was a massive blow to both the Ravens and the second-year running back. Coming off a great rookie campaign, Dobbins was set to propel Baltimore’s offense that had led the NFL in rushing attempts the previous four years and become an RB1. He had all the momentum.
Dobbins was coming off a rookie season in which he finished the last seven games with double-digit fantasy points after breaking through their committee approach. He finished first in yards per carry during that season (6.1) and was poised for a breakout in 2021.
However, a torn ACL during the Ravens’ final preseason game halted that from happening. Dobbins is now behind the eight ball. However, given the timing of his injury, he’s had about as long for recovery as anyone could ask. After all, given what Cam Akers pulled off in returning from a torn Achilles, anything is possible.
The Ravens showed they are still a fantasy scoring powerhouse in 2021
What should give some dynasty managers hope for Dobbins in 2022 is what the Ravens were able to do without him. After losing Gus Edwards as well, they relied on a combination of Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray with complementary help from Le’Veon Bell and Ty’Son Williams.
I feel we can all safely agree that Freeman and Murray are past their prime. With that said, the two combined for 15 RB3 performances (top 36), eight RB2 outings (top 24), and four games as RB1s (top 12). That’s significant, especially when you add that teams weren’t worried about Lamar Jackson for six of those games. If it were Dobbins in there, we can only imagine he would have had even better results.
The only “limiting” factor for Dobbins in dynasty for 2022 is his involvement in the passing game. He had just 18 receptions on 24 targets for 120 yards in his rookie year. To become an elite dynasty asset at the RB position, passing game utilization is critical, as receptions are far more valuable than rush attempts on a per-touch basis.
Once again, we can circle back to last season for some hope of this improving. Freeman led the backfield with 42 targets, the most for a Ravens RB since 2018. Assuming this trend turns into a pattern, Dobbins hitting the 30-35 reception range would be a noticeable boost in his weekly output. He’s a barely-23-year old mid-to-low-end RB1 who you can still get at a significant discount relative to his ceiling.
Fantasy projection for Dobbins
Perhaps I spoiled the lead a bit, but I will more than likely be bullish on Dobbins this season in terms of my projections. However, I do expect to see Edwards cut into his touches. He posted at least 130 carries and 700 yards for three straight seasons, and the team trusts him. With that said, he is almost 27 years old and coming off an ACL tear of his own.
However, the Ravens are the Ravens. They want to run the football. Despite the injuries last season, they still were No. 3 in total rushing attempts (517), averaging 30.4 per game. Giving Jackson his usual 9-10 carries per game still leaves more than 20 for the backfield, and that’s just some quick back of the napkin math.
I do expect to see Dobbins’ efficiency drop. No one maintains over a 6.0 ypc average. Even among the best of the best in the game, only four RBs inside the top 36 in 2021 rankings averaged above 5.0 ypc: Jonathan Taylor (5.5), Nick Chubb (5.5), Tony Pollard (5.5), and Chase Edmonds (5.1).
However, due to his increase in volume, I expect this will balance out for Dobbins. Anything around the projected 12-14 carries per game range for Dobbins should equate to over 1,000 yards, even if we see a 25% drop in efficiency. Given his burst, top-end speed, and knack for punching it in around the end zone, that 1,000 yards might end up on the conservative side. It’s highly probable that Dobbins ends the season around the 1,300-1,400 total yard range once receptions are added to the mix.
Be patient with Dobbins in 2022
Dobbins’ dynasty floor is as an RB2 in 2022. But he has a mid-RB1 ceiling if his efficiency stays the same and he sees an uptick in receiving volume. With that said, if Dobbins comes out of the gates slow, I would not panic. He is coming off a season-ending injury and was just off the field for the longest stretch of his entire life.
Dynasty is a long-term game where you can’t overreact to what happened in Week 1. This isn’t redraft where you have one shot for the title before starting fresh the next year. We need to build rosters for continuous and sustainable growth with championship upside.
At the center of that is youth, both at RB and WR. Dobbins checks every box as a cornerstone running back to build around. So if he comes out a bit slow, give him time. He needs to trust his knee to do what he needs it to do and that only happens when live bodies are flying around.
If you have a manager in your league getting a little antsy about Dobbins because of a slow start, the Ravens managing his touches, or the expected drop in efficiency, try to take him off their hands as a favor. That’s just being a decent leaguemate, after all.