Every NFL team has players worth owning in fantasy football. The hard part is knowing which players on the same team provide the most value in your fantasy football drafts. In this series we are going to examine one player from each NFL team that provides the most value in upcoming 2018 fantasy football drafts.
After identifying a fantasy football value from the Arizona Cardinals we are turning to the Baltimore Ravens. Like the Cardinals, the Ravens don’t project to be a top offense in the NFL. Many have given up on quarterback Joe Flacco to lead the team and put up large passing numbers. Luckily for my next fantasy football draft value he is not dependent on Flacco’s performance and he may actually benefit if Flacco really struggles to lead the team.
Baltimore Ravens Best Fantasy Football Draft Value: Alex Collins Running Back
Collins joined the Ravens after being cut from the Seattle Seahawks just one season after they drafted him in the fifth round of the NFL draft. By Week 5 of the 2017 season Collins had taken full control of the Ravens backfield and always received more than 10 carries a game. He had taken hold of the lead job after Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead injuries, and Terrence West struggling to flash any big play ability. Javorius Allen still played a role as a pass catcher and goal line back, but Collins became a safe RB2 play week to week and helped many win a fantasy football title as a mid season waiver addition.
In the 2018 offseason, the Ravens did not make any major efforts to upgrade their running back room. Woodhead retired and West left in free agency. Collins will start the season as the lead back for the team while Allen and Dixon compete to be the primary backup. The Ravens seem to like Dixon after holding onto him through multiple injuries and a suspension, but he certainly will have an uphill battle to earning playing time. If anything I would expect him to eat into more of Allen’s work than Collins. The Ravens have never seemed to be big fans of Allen since they failed to feed him the ball even when he performed well last season. Dixon also profiles more as a pass catcher than Collins does. Collins caught the ball fine in 2017, but it isn’t the strongest asset to his game. Dixon could easily handle passing downs while Collins is the first and second down banger. The one area where I want to see improvement is Collins getting more goal line touches.
Collins ran for 973 yards on 212 attempts giving him a 4.6 yards-per-carry. That put him in the top 10 of all running backs in yards-per-carry while also having the fourth most attempts of that group. Only Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, and Mark Ingram had more attempts and a higher yards-per-carry. A lot of times running backs don’t have high carry counts which leads to them having a higher yards-per-carry due to a smaller sample size. Then the next season we see those running backs decrease in efficiency when their workload increases. While Collins workload could go up in 2018 due to being the starter from the beginning of the season instead of half way through like in 2017, his efficiency shouldn’t drop much. He has already showed he can have a high yards-per-carry on a large workload.
Collins can also be helped by his quarterback in 2018. While we have seen Collins have success with Flacco under center, we could see him have any more success with rookie QB Lamar Jackson. Jackson was known in college as a dual-threat QB that hurt teams with his arm and his legs. The Ravens traded up in the first-round to draft Jackson as their QB of the future and if Flacco struggles early in the season he could see playing time as soon as this year. We have long seen the benefits of having a mobile quarterback for running backs (think Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo). Defenses will be forced to watch Jackson and not immediately commit to stopping the running back in case the quarterback keeps the ball and scrambles.
Collins is currently going in the early fourth round in both standard and PPR leagues landing him at RB19. Collins should have no problem returning at least that value and he could provide even more. He is going after Derrick Henry who is in even more of a timeshare as him and an unproven rookie in Derrius Guice. Collins is one of my safest picks at his current draft price and I am happy to draft him to be my RB2 after I’ve already drafted an early round running back.