Monday Night Football features a pair of vicious offenses and one dominant defense. The latter honor belongs to the Baltimore Ravens, who have allowed the 7th-fewest rushing yards, 6th-fewest passing yards, and the fewest total touchdowns (2) through two contests. Those incredible numbers have come against the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns. The Texans and the Browns have their issues but they are by no means pushovers. They are legitimate threats to any team they face.
Patrick Mahomes sits at fantasy’s QB8 spot, simultaneously showcasing his top tier abilities while also reinforcing the fact that drafters can wait to find difference makers at quarterback, rather than drafting Mahomes at his 2020 second round ADP. Baltimore’s defense will provide one of the stiffest tests he’ll face this year but Andy Reid’s ingenious play-calling and play designs keep him firmly locked into fantasy’s quarterback elite. Start him confidently as a high-end QB1.
The Ravens’ August cutting of free safety Earl Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a combined five-time 1st and 2nd Team All Pro, has left its mark as the Ravens have struggled to keep tight ends out of the endzone in each of Baltimore’s first two games. Replacement FS Deshon Elliott has made little coverage-noise thus far, having broken up no passes and recorded no interceptions. Tight end Tracis Kelce, a player with nearly as many accolades as Thomas, owns rights to the team-lead in both target market share (25.93%) and red zone target market share (36.36%). If there’s any Chief that’s a lock for a touchdown on Monday night, it’s Kelce.
Baltimore’s perimeter cornerbacks are as good as it gets, with Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters providing an enviable 1-2-coverage punch on the Baltimore’s back-end. The key to KC’s wide receiver box score success will be running routes out of the slot, with Ravens’ slot corner Tavon Young out for the year (ACL). Speed demon Tyreek Hill, .5PPR’s WR8, has taken 27.6% of his snaps in the slot, which allows him to maintain WR1 value in such a tough match-up.
Sammy Watkins is currently in the league’s concussion protocol but managed a Full Participation designation in Saturday’s practice. He’s likely good to go but we’ll need confirmation to be sure. Watkins maintains his yearly boom/bust label entering Week 3’s match-up. His Week 1 performance was as impressive as it always is but his Week 2 showing, before the concussion, was a flop — and he logged 45 snaps before exiting. If feeling daring, the veteran receiver can be started as a flex option with possible-touchdown upside. Watkins has a 27.4% slot share and a 27.27% red zone target share, second on the team behind Kelce.
Perhaps the sneakiest fantasy start of the Kansas City squad is receiver Demarcus Robinson. His 6.5 average yards of separation at the catch point leads the NFL. Robinson has the third-highest snap count of the receiver group, 39.2% of which have been taken in the slot. Robinson really is a core element of the offense. Consider him a high-floor flex play with back-end WR2 upside in full-point PPR settings.
Mecole Hardman continues to tantalize fans with his breakneck quicks. Head coach Andy Reid is intent on keeping the 2019 Pro Bowl/2nd-Team All Pro return man in bubble wrap. Last week, with the Watkins concussion, Hardman managed to log an exciting 65% snap share but in the end, it was only cardio as Hardman was targeted just three times. Hardman will only be fantasy relevant if Tyreek Hill were to miss time.
Byron Pringle is even less relevant than Mecole Hardman.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has his work cut out for him against the vaunted Ravens’ front-seven. His talent and potential have been evident since the rookie’s debut in Week 1. Last week’s severe uptick in passing game usage put his fantasy-point floor, and ceiling, on steroids. CEH had to be dropped a few pegs from his typical top five zone due to the match-up, but he’s still a mid-to-low RB1.
Lamar Jackson has slammed the door shut on any lingering questions about his passing accuracy. Never mind that he’s posted the league’s second-highest completion percentage. Jackson owns the NFL’s highest Completion Percentage Above Expectation at 12.2%(!), routinely threading the needle, while under pressure, completing passes nobody has any business making. It’s still early, but for perspective, the best full-season CPAE mark in Next Gen Stats’ database (since 2016) is Kirk Cousins’ 2016 8.4%. Jackson is this week’s overall QB3. Kansas City’s defense doesn’t stand a chance.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has built on his 2019 rookie campaign, continuing to develop his route running and pass catching, no longer playing while recovering from a Lisfranc injury. Given the run-heavy nature of the Ravens’ offense, Hollywood’s production can be volatile at times. But with Kansas City able to put up points and push Baltimore’s pace, the young receiver may be in for his highest world load of the season. Count on Brown as a WR2 with multi-touchdown upside.
SPARQ’d up 2nd-year receiver Miles Boykin has quietly become the team’s No. 2 receiver, rivaling tight end Mark Andrews’ target market share with an equivalent 18.37%. Boykin has all the potential in the world and could easily find himself appearing in Baltimore’s box score more and more. Consider him a risky boom/bust flex option.
Slot receiver Willie Snead offers little reliable fantasy value.
Mark Andrews can be counted on to contend for overall TE1 fantasy scoring on a weekly basis. An exceptionally talented pass catching weapon, Andrews owns the team’s highest red zone target market share, more than doubling the next closest Raven with his 35.71%. In a game where both teams should frequent each other’s red zones and forcing a high pace, expect Andrews to post one of his trademark weeks.
Mark Ingram tenuously holds rights to the team’s lead back duties as rookie J.K. Dobbins vies for his job. Ingram is still moving well and should find room to run against the Chiefs porous run defense — KC regularly deploys anti-passing personnel on defense, inviting their opponent to run the ball as the Chiefs, in turn, pass their way to victory. Ingram is a mid-to-low RB2 and his flex-worthy backfield mate Dobbins should also have himself a day. The rookie has scored on both of his red zone rushing attempts and surely has head coach John Harbaugh eager to give him more.
Gus Edwards has seen his fair share of garbage time usage but can’t be expected to have a meaningful role in this one.