Despite an up and down season last year, the Ravens made another trip to the postseason. Even though they made the playoffs, people are questioning whether or not the Ravens are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Are they even the best team in their division?
For the most part, the Ravens bring back a defense that was a top-10 unit in 2020. They lost Matt Judon in free agency, as he was part of the Patriots big spending spree.
The Ravens still have one of the best, if not the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are back locking up their side of the field. It appears that the Ravens believe that Deshon Elliot is going to take a big step. Elliot's career started slow with injuries but played all 16 games last season. He replaced Earl Thomas after that strange incident he had last offseason. Chuck Clark is expected to start at the other safety position.
After finishing 3rd in defensive rookie of the year voting, Patrick Queen returns as he looks to take the next step in becoming an elite linebacker in this league. He certainly has the skill set to do so, after recording over 100 tackles, three sacks, along with two forced fumbles and interceptions.
Overall, the Ravens should be a top-10 defensive unit again. I'm a little worried about the depth in the secondary position. There wasn't a lot of turnover in this defense, which should be a good thing.
We know the defense is going to be good, but how about the offense?
To start, I don't think I've ever seen an MVP get criticized more than Lamar Jackson. No, he's not a running back you trolls. He's one of the best QBs in the league. In the last two seasons, Jackson has accounted for 76 touchdowns. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Although he didn't put together his best season last year, I expect Jackson to bounce back in a big way.
It was clear that the Ravens needed some playmakers, especially at wide receiver. They drafted Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota in the first round. Unfortunately, Bateman recently got hurt with a core muscle injury that will keep him out for the beginning of the season. Sammy Watkins also joins this receiver group. Jackson will also have his trusty tight ends in Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle.
The running game is the Ravens' bread and butter. JK Dobbins returns as the starting running back after a nice rookie season where he had nine touchdowns. Expect him to be their primary back. Gus Edwards is primed to be vulture of the year. So if you're taking Dobbins in fantasy, Edwards is a solid handcuff to have.
Can Greg Roman keep evolving the offense? We saw the league caught up to him in San Francisco when they were dominating with Kaepernick. Lamar is a better QB, so I don't expect a similar type of regression.
Another key pickup for this offense was signing Kevin Zeitler in free agency. He solidifies the interior offensive line. They get an experienced starter and they also get All-Pro Tackle, Ronnie Stanley back from injury. They also replaced Orlando Brown Jr. with Alejandro Villanueva.
BEST VALUE FANTASY PLAYER
This isn't much of a sleeper pick, but I believe in Marquise Brown. His ADP is currently at 112, which could be a possible steal. He has recorded 7+ touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL. Hopefully, the yards and receptions will come along soon enough. Also, how can you go wrong with a guy whose nickname is Hollywood?
TOTAL WIN PREDICTION
I'm taking the over on 11.5 wins. I expect Baltimore to be back in the playoffs, and win the division. My division winner for the AFC North changes every day. Some days I like Cleveland, others I like Baltimore. Regardless, I think the Ravens are going to be one of the best teams in the AFC. Expect them to see them play football in January.
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