With the first week of fantasy football playoffs coming to a close, there are likely a number of managers with their aspirations hinging solely on the shoulders of Baltimore Ravens rookie running back JK Dobbins. Can he help you win your Week 14 matchup and what kind of fantasy performance can we expect during his Monday Night Football showdown with the Cleveland Browns?
JK Dobbins will look to take over the Ravens backfield
The Baltimore Ravens, similar in offensive identity to their AFC North rivals, like to run the ball. The team currently leads the league with 169 rushing yards per game. Their leading rusher, quarterback Lamar Jackson, has 116 carries for 669 yards and four rushing TDs. Their other weapons on the ground include Gus Edwards (101 carries, 487 yards, four TDs), rookie JK Dobbins (83 carries, 451 yards, four TDs), and Mark Ingram II (63 carries, 260 yards, two TDs).
Comparing touches in the committee
While having that many rushing options can be a nightmare for fantasy owners, over the last few weeks, a clear leader has emerged from their three-headed beast. Over his past five games, JK Dobbins has gone from single-digit carries at the beginning of the season, to averaging double digits (15, 12, 5, 15, and 11). In their best rushing performance of the year last week, the touch split was Dobbins 11, Edwards seven, Ingram seven, and Justice Hill one. He has clearly become the team’s favorite back.
With those 11 opportunities, Dobbins had 71 rushing yards and one rushing TD. Albeit, that was against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. This week, he will be facing a much tougher task. Even though the Browns defense ranks 26th in points allowed, their faults have not been against the run. There’s been just one team of running backs who’ve rushed for more than 128 yards against them, and that was the Raiders back in Week 8.
Can JK Dobbins be a good fantasy weapon against the Cleveland Browns?
Luckily, we have data to analyze when it comes to Baltimore’s rushing attack against Cleveland. Back in Week 1, the Ravens running backs combined for just 68 yards on 21 carries. JK Dobbins specifically had seven carries for a lowly 22 yards. However, Dobbins was able to come away with two rushing touchdowns in that game.
Predicting touchdowns is never a sound way to go about playing fantasy football. However, if you are starting Dobbins tonight, you likely have little choice in the matter with this being the last game of the slate. The question then becomes: should you switch him out for Gus Edwards or Mark Ingram?
One of the elements that is in your favor if you are starting JK Dobbins in fantasy is going to be the weather in Cleveland. On the field, it is expected to feel like a chilly 17 degrees, with winds nearing 16 mph.
If you need your team to run the ball, wind is what you are hoping for. With Lamar Jackson already showing signs of regression in 2020, it is unlikely that the team implements a pass-heavy approach in cold and windy conditions. Jackson, who is 187 of 293 passing for 2,055 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions, is more of a threat with his legs than he is in the air.
Will this game be competitive enough for Dobbins to be viable in fantasy?
This game is important for both of these teams. The Browns are currently chasing the suddenly-struggling Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North standings, while the Ravens are trying to stay alive in the AFC wild card picture. Both teams need a win.
Does the injury report, or situational motivational factors, favor one team or the other?
The Browns come into this game off of an extremely impressive 41-35 point win over the Tennessee Titans. The offense was firing on all cylinders, led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt out of the backfield. The Ravens are also coming off an impressive win against the Cowboys.
What is concerning here for the Ravens and JK Dobbins is the injuries the team has suffered both on defense and on the offensive line. None more important than Ronnie Stanley. While his absence didn’t play much of a factor against a Cowboys team that has absolutely zero pass rush, it might change something in this one. If the Browns are able to get to Jackson, throwing the ball might not be an option. If that is the case, the Browns could simply stack the box and take away any chance the Ravens have at running the ball.
Head coach John Harbaugh will likely be able to figure out a game plan to open up the run game, but nothing is certain. However, if your choice is between JK Dobbins and the other Ravens RBs, the rookie is likely your best option. While it is no guarantee that he puts up enough points to help you win your week, I feel comfortable saying that he will have more opportunities than Edwards and Ingram.
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