By now I am sure you have either heard and/or seen the news about Baltimore Ravens running back JK Dobbins: The second-year player suffered a torn ACL in the team’s final preseason game against the Washington Football Team. J.K. Dobbins caught a screen pass and was tackled immediately after, clutching his knee in pain and staying on the field for several minutes before being carted off, and it’s never a good sign when the dreaded cart comes onto the field to take a player in the locker room.
I wonder who feels worse; John Harbaugh for having Dobbins on the field in such a meaningless game, or Lamar Jackson for throwing him the pass which would end up being the last time he sees game action this year?
This is terrible news for the Ravens as Dobbins came on in the second half of 2020, scoring in seven consecutive games including the postseason win against the Titans. Dobbins had been pegged a popular breakout candidate all offseason for 2021 as he looked to build on his 805-yard campaign and become a featured player for the Ravens. Now a young talent and burgeoning playmaker will have to be shelved and begin a rigorous rehab process, as it looks that Dobbins also suffered possible LCL damage in addition to his ACL.
As for who will replace Dobbins on the field, the Ravens can go in several directions. Gus Edwards will likely take over as the team’s starter in the backfield and will warrant RB2 status for the foreseeable future (as will whoever ends up starting). With the news of the injury making its way to the fantasy football news cycle, Edwards’s fantasy value has now placed him at the early part of the 6th round (6.03 in PPR formats per Fantasy Football Calculator). He is more of a straight-line, power-back mold and he doesn’t have the receiving chops that Dobbins does and so to help fill that void, expect to see a sizeable increase in Justice Hill’s role. At least, that’s what would’ve been the case except undrafted running back Ty’Son Williams passed Hill on the depth chart during the offseason. Williams’s fantasy value may end up being a viable handcuff option with potential for more as the season goes on.
There were also rumors that the Ravens could bring in a free agent (Todd Gurley?) to help split the carries. Recent reports on that front, however, aren’t placing Gurley with the Ravens at this time though. Lamar Jackson himself will also pick up the slack in the rushing department but I can’t imagine the Ravens want to subject him to unnecessary physical punishment, especially from the likes of division counterpart bullies like the Steelers and Browns. They want him to continue to develop as a pocket passer with his running ability as a bonus rather than a running QB that happens to be able to throw.
That could also trickle into the Raven’s receivers. First-round rookie Rashod Bateman is already slated to miss the first several weeks of the season so tight end Mark Andrews should get all the work he can handle. Marquise Brown will also be counted on to contribute big time in his third year. Sammy Watkins hasn’t played a full 16 games since like 2015, so he is as unreliable as he is talented.
This is the worst possible scenario that could happen for the Ravens, and it could not have happened at the worst possible time, as the team looked poised to make a run in the AFC. Now their offense is handicapped and they are missing their second-best player. If I’m being honest, this has the ingredients of a full-blown committee which is a word that makes every fantasy footballer shudder.
But guess what? The Ravens won their record 20th straight preseason game in the midst of all of this. So I guess that has to count for something.