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AFC Team-by-Team Backfield Breakdowns (Updated)


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Note: This article was originally published on July 19 and updated on August 27. Updates are at the bottom of each writeup in bold.


Baltimore Ravens

Top fantasy target: Alex Collins

Other notables: Kenneth Dixon, Buck Allen

Last year, the Ravens ranked 27th in total yards and 31st in yards per play. But that didn’t bother Collins, who went from a September practice squad addition to one of the NFL’s surprise stories.

Stepping in for injured teammates Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead, Collins popped off 4.6 yards per carry and averaged a rock solid 3.0 yards after contact per attempt. He did so despite missing G Alex Lewis for all of the season and G Marshal Yanda for almost the entire year. The O-line looks shaky in spots entering 2018.

Power should remain Collins’ calling card. He showed it on tape at Arkansas and goes a stout 5’10, 217 pounds.

He’s not fit to play much on passing downs, though. Pro Football Focus charted him with 1 of the worst pass-blocking grades — albeit on just 27 snaps. He also dropped 4 passes.

That last stat brings us back to his rushing, where ball security has been an issue. He lost 2 fumbles early last season. And in total, he’s fumbled 6 times on just 277 career touches.

Still, Collins’ 2017 play says he deserves to be the lead back. His July ADP has him as RB22; our PPR ranks place him 19th at the position.

Now, he’ll still need to hold off challengers — mainly Dixon. As Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun wrote this month: “If Dixon can prove that the health of his knee is not a problem, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick could challenge Collins atop the depth chart.”

Dixon’s college tape impressed us. And his workout numbers backed up the tape’s tale of a shifty, short-area dynamo. We saw some of that in his rookie year, but 2017 was a flat-out disaster. He tore his meniscus and underwent surgery in July. While on season-ending IR, he served a 4-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy and a 2-game ban for substance abuse.

Back healthy entering training camp, he’s a potential threat to lower Collins’ touch ceiling.

Allen’s quietly posted 45- and 46-catch seasons across the last 3 years. But he brings little playmaking ability and a low TD projection. He’s merely a deep league PPR flier.

Update: Collins's preseason workload went like this: two carries in Week 1, zero in Week 2 and one in Week 3. He also sat out the Hall of Fame game. All indications are that Baltimore's readying him for a big regular season role.

Dixon, meanwhile, missed part of camp with a hamstring injury. He was once on the roster bubble, but we expect him to make the team. Allen looks like the favorite for pass-catching duties out of the gate.