The final game of NFL Week 14 features the Baltimore Ravens heading to Cleveland for a primetime showing against the division rival Browns on Monday Night Football. Here’s a fantasy football preview of each team heading into tonight’s game.
Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson heads to Cleveland hot off of a bounce-back performance last week against Dallas. It stands to reason that much of Jackson’s standout Week 13 showing came via his rushing ability, something we thought might emerge with his pass catching corps ravaged by COVID-19 after the team egregiously mishandled their outbreak. Even if Jackson’s rush attempts are lowered this week, the 3rd-year signal caller has a shot chance to connect with no. 1 receiver Marquise Brown on some big gains as the Browns’ top cover cornerback Denzel Ward is out with a calf injury this week. Lamar Jackson is back in the QB1 ranks for now.
As mentioned above, wide receiver Marquise Brown has a good shot to produce long gains and/or a touchdown against a Browns defense that’s tagged for four touchdowns of 15 yards or more in back-to-back weeks. Lest we not forget, both Brown (5/6-101) and slot receiver Willie Snead IV (4/4-64-1) had excellent showings against Cleveland in Week 1. Like downfield receivers, slot receivers have likewise born fruit against the Browns this year (ie. CeeDee Lamb - 5/7-79-2, Tyler Boyd - 11/13-101-1, and Hunter Renfrow - 4/4-26-1). Both Brown and Snead are high-end flex plays.
KR/WR Devin Duvernay and big-bodied WR Miles Boykin will compete for no. 3 WR duties. Duvernay is the preferred option for long-shot flex utilization and DFS consideration as his 4.39 40-yard dash jets, as well as his kick return potential provide a much higher ceiling.
Tight end Mark Andrews has returned from the COVID-19 list, hopefully ready to continue his pre-COVID-19 hot streak. After a mostly dull season, Andrews turned in a pair of good showings in Weeks 10 and 11. Facing a Browns’ defense allowing 12.1 .5PPR PPG, 6th-most in the NFL, Andrews should be deployed as a top five option at the position.
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not the Ravens will continue using their three-headed running back committee. What is clear are the likely range of potential outcomes. Surpassing 50-yards from scrimmage just twice while finding the endzone as many times, veteran back Mark Ingram can be comfortably faded from consideration. When it comes to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, Dobbins is the preferred play between the two—but that’s not saying much. While Dobbins has touched his low double-digit ceiling more often than Edwards has, the Browns’ front-seven limited opposing backfields to just 18.4 .5PPR PPG. Dobbins’ hovers somewhere around the RB24 rank while Edwards is a low-ceiling flex option.
Cleveland has luck on its side this week with the return of right guard Wyatt Teller returns from the COVID-19/Reserve List. Offensive line analyst Brandon Thorn, one of the smartest up-and-coming minds in the game, introduced the 3rd-year mauler as having “emerged as one of only a handful of elite guards in the NFL and the most physically dominant” in his (free) piece titled Under the Microscope: Browns right guard Wyatt Teller’s ascension into a star. (For those interested in learning more, a subscription to Thorn’s Substack, Trench Warfare, is worthwhile.)
Teller’s presence, combined with the overall O-Line development and head coach Kevin Stefanski’s brilliant coaching has led to Cleveland owning the leagues’ best protected time in the pocket, 2.7 seconds per play. It speaks volumes that their 6-foot-1 quarterback, Baker Mayfield, considered undersized by traditional standards, has had just four passes batted down at or behind the line of scrimmage, tied for the league’s lowest mark. Adding to their edge, it appears as though the status of Ravens’ do-it-all defensive lineman Calais Campbell is up in the air. Campbell has battled a calf injury for weeks, spending some of that time on the COVID-19/Reserve List. Campbell failed to practice this week, at the very least indicating that should he play, there’s little chances that he’s now 100%. O-Line fanatics will be pleased to note that a Campbell absence would give us a high-quality trench battle between Teller and the Ravens’ stellar nose tackle Brandon Williams as each team’s respective top dogs go mano a mano. In sum, despite facing what looks like a tough match-up, Mayfield’s Week 14 situation should lead to mid-tier QB2 numbers at worst. As evidenced his Week 13 thunderous outpouring, Mayfield is clearly capable of elite QB1 numbers. A top 12 finish is solidly within his range of outcomes this week.
Slot receiver Jarvis Landry has firmly established himself as Cleveland’s top passing game weapon in Odell Beckham Jr.’s absence and he’s poised for a grand showing this evening. Much of the Ravens’ secondary is plagued by injury at the moment; Jimmy Smith, who fills in for top CB Marlon Humphrey whenever Humphrey kicks inside to cover the slot, has barely been able to play through the last four weeks while fighting off ankle and groin injuries. His current availability is still highly in question. Making matters worse, mid-season signee, veteran cornerback Tramon Williams is doubtful with a thigh injury which puts the team in a very tough spot in regards to Humphrey’s responsibilities—Williams had been helping with slot duties when on the field. Landry is should have no issue taking advantage of this situation. He’s a high-end flex play with a top 15 finish well within his range of outcomes. Double-digit targets are on there way tonight.
With Humphrey, and whoever else stuck trying to stymie Landry’s production, downfield recievers Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones have a great chance to produce on their hands. Toggling to the 2020 data section on airyards.com (created by Josh Hermsmeyer) and selecting options Cleveland, Week 13, and WR/TE/RB from the drop-down menu, readers can see that Higgins and DPJ had by far the the deepest usage on the team. Higgins’ respectable 11.1 average depth of target (aDot) can be replicated effectively again this week.
Peoples-Jones’ absurd 19.3 shows us how badly the team wants to him rip the lid off of opposing secondaries. The man likely left with handling the rotating duo is stud CB Marcus Peters, whose style of play is best characterized as “no risk it, no biscuit”. Peters is an extremely talented corner but his penchant for jumping routes while hunting for interceptions can lead to him getting burned for monster gains. At least one of the two should get loose for a long score. For those in a must-win-by-big-numbers-or-not-win-at-all situations, these two are great options. While the veteran Higgins is the savvier route runner, rookie Peoples-Jones offers tantalizing physical traits. Standing 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, his 1.59-second 10-yard split mixed with his outrageous 44.5” vertical jump brings a unique combination of jump ball/downfield tools. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on the youngster—especially in DFS this evening.
WR KhaDarel Hodge is out with a hamstring injury.
Browns’ no. 1 TE in their two-tight end base offense, Austin Hooper is expected to be out this week (neck) after back-to-back DNPs to close the week. In Hooper’s two prior absences this year, Weeks 7 and 8, it was stud rookie tight end Harrison Bryant who operated as the top pass catcher at the position, posting a total receiving line of 7/8-81-2 between the two games. Fellow pass catching tight end David Njoku resepectablywent 3/6-39-1. Bryant deserves top 12 consideration, Njoku top 15. Baltimore has been mediocre against opposing tight ends this year, allowing 10.1 .5PPR PPG to the position.
The aforementioned return of right guard Wyatt Teller cements no. 1 back Nick Chubb’s status as a top five option for Week 14. The bruising back should blow up the box score tonight. No. 2 back Kareem Hunt can safely be billed for his typical 12-15 carries and 3-4 targets tonight, the latter of which helps solidify his high-end flex status as the Ravens have allowed the 11th-most receptions per game to the position, 5.2.