April 13, 2024

Dynasty Deepcut: Ravens Training Camp

5 min read

Dynasty Deepcut: Ravens Training Camp

 

I'm announcing a quick Public Service Announcement with NFL training camps underway:

Remember to temper expectations when it comes to beat reports and live tweets coming out of open practices.

 

I'm always trying to find that next guy that no one saw coming.

Unknown players begin gaining steam and carving out roles in training camps yearly. And when a lesser-known player starts to flash, fantasy diehards look for late-round gems and Dynasty adds. In fantasy, I want to be ahead of my league any chance I get, and this is just a part of that process.

As we approach this topic, it's important to understand the inherent risk that comes with unproven players and training camp heroes. I've gotten burned with guys like Velus Jones, Ke'Shaun Vaughn, and K.J. Hamler. To this day, you'll still find Hamler truthers out there holding a roster spot for the former training camp, darling. It's fun to take shots at guys, and those shots can win you leagues, but they can also burn you.

Okay, so with disclaimers out of the way, what am I looking for? I'm looking for someone who can come out of "nowhere." Situations and players that my league mates are overlooking.  

If you were on top of training camp reports in 2020, you might have heard the name James Robinson floating around fantasy circles. The name wouldn't have meant much then, but as the summer went on, reports of an undrafted rookie running back turning heads at training camp would start to garner attention. Rumors of Robinson competing for the RB1 role in Jacksonville would circulate. As many were getting ready to draft in their home leagues, the Jaguars released starter Leonard Fournette 13 days before their regular season opener. Most fantasy owners ran to their waiver wire to try and put a claim in for the now starting running back of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile, sharp drafters and degenerates like myself had him firmly locked on our roster, utilizing a late-round pick on the undrafted rookie out of Illinois State.

We are not in 2020; I don't think a 'James Robinson' exists this year. But there is a name and a backfield that I'm watching closely, and that's Baltimore.

J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are opening training camps on the PUP list. Whispers of a Dobbins holdout are making their rounds, and with what feels like an always-injured backfield, who else is there to take reps at the start of training camp?

Baltimore just signed Melvin Gordon to a 1-year deal. I don't know if anyone reading this has seen Melvin Gordon play recently, but he hasn't looked great (3.5 yards per attempt in 2022).  

He's a training camp body and depth piece. Justice Hill is also still on the roster but needs to fit the profile we're looking for here.

I'm looking for either 1st or 2nd-year players in a great position to take advantage if the opportunity presents itself.

 

 

Enter Keaton Mitchell.

Mitchell was an undrafted rookie free agent this year. Mitchell, an early declaration at only 21 years old, finished his collegiate career as 2× First-team All-AAC. In his sophomore season, he posted 1,452 rushing yards alongside 14 TDs. Mitchell led the FBS with plays over 10+ yards that same season.

For a smaller guy (5'8", 191), explosiveness is essential. Although he didn't test great at the combine opposite his peers, he did post a 4.37 40-yard dash (3rd in his class behind Achane and Gibbs). Speed kills in the NFL, and Mitchell has plenty of it.

With Baltimore's top two options at the position sidelined (for now), is there an opportunity for Mitchell to turn heads and ultimately carve out a role this upcoming season? Yes, he can.

Since Dobbins entered the league in 2020, he only has 227 carries. Gus Edwards is 28 years old, played only nine games in 2022, and missed the 2021 season.

In a perpetually hurt RB room, guys will get their chance. The Ravens love to run the ball, and they run it a lot. The Ravens were 2nd in total rushing yards last year and 7th in rush attempts. The previous year, the Ravens were 3rd overall in both categories. Most dynasty blogs and buy/sell articles tell you to go all in on J.K. Dobbins. I'm not saying to fade Dobbins; he's my RB19 in PPR formats heading into the year, and Dynasty Pros list him as RB16 in Dynasty. But this screams opportunity to me.  

It would take me two hands to count the amount of waiver wire picks spent on Ravens running backs over the past few seasons, staring right at you: Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Alex Collins. I'm not betting against a healthy Ravens backfield, but I would hedge. If Dobbins was to miss time, then who's up? A 'past his prime' Melvin Gordon? A guy who's just there in Justice Hill? A 28-year-old Gus Edwards is also still getting ready to start training camp.

A lot of "what if's?" and "maybe's," but that's what we want to be looking at as teams are coming together for the first time this offseason.

I'm not going with an obvious pick here, and I'm not trying to suggest that Keaton Mitchell can be the next James Robinson, but these are the setups as dynasty managers and drafters that we need to monitor.

As of now, I'm mixing in Mitchell with my last pick in best ball drafts, and in Dynasty, he should be on your taxi squad at minimum. Keaton Mitchell bursting on the scene and contributing to your fantasy team this year is unlikely, but so was James Robinson in 2020. It's a situation and a player I watch for as the summer goes on.

 

Nick Goodwin (@ngoodwin_tv)

Sources: Sleeper, CBS.com, NFL.com, fatasydata.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Baltimore Ravens Official Website, ESPN

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