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AFC Backfield Breakdowns (Updated)

By Jared Smola 9:08am EDT 8/26/19


Deciphering all 32 backfields is as important now as it’s ever been. Committee attacks have made those true 3-down workhorses more rare (and valuable). But they’ve also deepened the pool of viable fantasy RBs.

So let’s dive into the AFC backfields and determine how the touches and fantasy points will be divvied. The “top fantasy target” for each team below is the best value at ADP, not necessarily the highest-ranked player in that backfield.

(Check out the NFC edition.)

Note: This article was originally published on July 25 and updated on August 26. Updates are in bold.


Baltimore Ravens

Top fantasy target: Mark Ingram

Other notables: Justice Hill, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon

We start with the team most likely to lead the NFL in rushing attempts this season. In Lamar Jackson’s 7 regular-season starts last year, the Ravens ran it on 60.9% of their offensive snaps. To put that in perspective, the Seahawks led the league with a 55.6% run rate.

Baltimore totaled a whopping 316 rush attempts in those 7 games. Jackson handled 119 of those. But the RBs combined for 193 carries — a big 27.6 per game.

Ingram is a good bet to soak up a hefty chunk of the RB carries this year. The Ravens handed him a 3-year, $15 million deal in free agency after another strong season in New Orleans. Ingram averaged 4.7 yards per carry and ranked among the top 20 RBs in yards after contact per attempt and Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating. He has a shot to best his current career highs of 230 carries and 1,124 rushing yards this season.

Target volume is a concern for Ingram, though. Ravens RBs averaged just 3.6 targets and 2.4 catches per game in Jackson’s 7 starts last season. And Ingram could lose passing-down work to Hill or Dixon.

Hill is the most exciting guy in this backfield outside of Ingram. The 4th-round rookie averaged 5.6 yards per carry across 3 seasons at Oklahoma State and registered a 4.40-second 40 time and 89th percentile SPARQ score in the pre-draft process. But Hill will need to prove reliable in pass protection after ranking 56th in this year’s RB class in pass-blocking efficiency, according to PFF.

Dixon figures to win the change-of-pace, pass-catching role if Hill doesn’t. A knee injury cost him 10 games last year, but he averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch in the other 6.

Edwards was impressive in a 7-game starting cameo last season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 122 attempts. But considering Ingram’s track record and what the Ravens are paying him, Edwards will likely need an Ingram injury to be a fantasy factor.

Update: Ingram got the starter's treatment this preseason, appearing in just 1 game and carrying 4 times for 18 yards. He looks like Baltimore's clear lead back heading into Week 1 and is a fine pick at his 4th-round ADP.

Hill turned in a strong preseason, ranking 6th in Pro Football Focus' Elusive Rating among 89 RBs with 10+ carries. The rookie didn't get much run with the 1st-team offense, so it's unclear what his role will be out of the gate. But we still like Hill as an upside bench stash at his 12th-round ADP.


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