J.K. Dobbins Fantasy Outlook: Is This Baltimore Ravens RB Near-Elite When Healthy?

Baltimore Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins can take over games. The question is whether he'll be turned loose. What is his fantasy outlook in 2023?

At PFN, we’ve researched more than 350 fantasy football players, trying to identify which ones are overrated, underrated, and priced right. With that in mind, here is Baltimore Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins’ fantasy outlook for 2023.

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J.K. Dobbins’ 2023 Fantasy Outlook

Now entering his fourth season, Dobbins might be a top-five NFL running back … seriously. And I’ll admit that I never thought he’d play as well as he did after returning from an ACL tear that ended his 2021 campaign before it even began.

Despite missing 13 months, returning, then undergoing another knee surgery that sidelined him six more weeks — and despite never being fully recovered from his torn ACL — Dobbins dominated down the stretch last season. He racked up 459 yards on 70 totes (an incredible 6.6 yards per carry) in his final five matchups.

Even more remarkably, he achieved this level of greatness despite defenses knowing he was the primary offensive weapon. Baltimore averaged only 142.6 passing yards in those games. With Jackson out, the offense became “Dobbins or bust.” And Dobbins frequently came out on top.

The Ravens are in an interesting spot with their backfield. Dobbins is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The considerably older Gus Edwards and No. 3 RB Justice Hill easily can be cut loose after this season.

These three guys have been backfield mainstays in Baltimore for years — at least when healthy. But 2023 might mark the last hoorah for one or more of them.

Arguably none of them have more to win or lose this season than Dobbins, who’s the youngest of the three, and who quite simply has the most promising NFL future. A big season could propel him to another long-term contract next spring. More injuries could force him to take a one-year “prove-it” deal in Baltimore or elsewhere.

Adding to the chaos is how little we’ve seen from Dobbins since he wrapped up a stellar career at Ohio State in 2019, where he racked up 2,250 total yards (including 2,003 on the ground) and 23 touchdowns in his senior campaign.

He then took the NFL by storm — sort of — as a rookie, compiling a 134-805-9 rushing line. Dobbins’ career 5.9 yards-per-carry average is nothing short of miraculous. His tackle-breaking skills are nearly unmatched.

But he’s run the ball only 226 times during the regular season. He averaged a mere 11.5 carries per game last year. This is not the Ohio State workhorse. Is the team trying to protect him from further injuries? Possibly. Is he a good bet to earn 275+ touches in 2023? Not at all.

On a squad that includes the comparably efficient Edwards and all-world QB rusher Lamar Jackson, Dobbins is only part of the story. While this franchise might commit 14-15 touches per game to their No. 1 RB (translating to about 240-255 touches for the year), anything more seems farfetched in a famously balanced attack.

And it doesn’t help that Baltimore has just invested in two instant-impact receivers: rookie Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. This is now the deepest Ravens receiving corps in years, aimed at giving Jackson more tools at his disposal.

During Dobbins’ impressive close to last season, he, Edwards, and Mark Andrews were the offensive centerpieces, surrounded by the likes of DeSean Jackson, Sammy Watkins, rookie Isaiah Likely, and others. It was a hodge-podge of future talents and post-prime pass catchers.

This offense might operate much differently with a receiving corps that features Andrews, Flowers, OBJ, and Rashod Bateman. It should afford Baltimore the luxury of keeping the often-injured Dobbins and Edwards fresher for a potential postseason run.

As a result, managers should be wary of over-investing in Dobbins in fantasy drafts. Based on pure talent, few rival him.

But given his durability concerns, somewhat limited passing-game role, and the Ravens’ meaningful offensive improvements since last year, his shot at a top-10 finish seems slim at best. On a per-game basis, a top 16-24 showing is more realistic.

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