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Beware of Isaiah Likely Buzz

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Wed, 19 Jun 2024, 2:14 PM EDT
Isaiah Likely Headshot

The Ravens have wrapped up offseason workouts, and Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic highlighted TE Isaiah Likely as a spring standout. "Likely's work in OTAs and minicamp gave Monken even more reason to polish those multiple tight end sets," Zrebiec writes. "From making highlight-reel, one-handed catches in the middle of the field to finding openings underneath to pulling away from defenders after receptions, Likely looked like a player who will be hard to keep off the field."

What They're Saying

Nikhil Mehta of the Russell Street Report Ravens blog: "Isaiah Likely might have been the best pass-catcher throughout spring."

Ryan Mink of the team website: "Isaiah Likely looks like a player ready to become a household name in Year 3. He made jaw-dropping one-handed leaping catches in back-to-back practices."

Within the same paragraph, Mink also addressed the other two TEs atop the depth chart.

  • "Mark Andrews is a man possessed once again and looks fully recovered and fast after last year's leg injury. He'll be back in Pro Bowl form."
  • "The most active pass-catcher on the entire team during minicamp may have been Charlie Kolar, who showed he's ready to contribute in more ways than just blocking."

Ravens HC John Harbaugh on Likely: "He's going to be a big part of what we do."

2024 Fantasy Football Impact

There's been little question about Likely's ability since he flashed before the middle of his rookie season (after a productive college career). But he caught six fewer passes on 20 fewer targets last year than in 2022, despite Andrews missing significantly more time (6+ games vs. 2+).

Likely didn't play more than 35% of offensive snaps last season in any game that included Andrews until the playoffs, when the starter returned from his knee injury as a limited participant.

Likely exceeded 3 targets just once last season in a game that included Andrews -- and that came in a Week 9 blowout win Andrews left early.

It would certainly make sense for Likely's playing time to increase in his third season. But it's tough to find him a fantasy-relevant share of targets with Andrews healthy.

And it'll only get tougher if Kolar is also ready to play more.

Dynasty Impact

Likely's obviously more attractive in dynasty than in redraft leagues. He's nearly five years younger than Andrews. The veteran remains a problem for him there, too, though.

Andrews will turn 29 in September. Our aging-curve data says that top 6-level TEs have historically produced at 85% of peak through their age-31 seasons.

Andrews' contract also runs through 2025, same season as Likely's.

Other Winners & Losers

QB Lamar Jackson would probably benefit from Likely seeing the field more. The young TE looks more reliable than the parade of meh WRs that have accompanied a couple of stars (Marquise Brown, Zay Flowers) in recent seasons.

Projected ADP Movement

Fantasy drafters have been chasing Likely a little high in best ball drafts this year and might push him even earlier if the buzz continues.

Expect him to remain much lower in our rankings than he sits in ADP.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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