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Javorius Allen: Potential Zero RB Trap Candidate?

The Dude: This will not stand, y’know. This aggression will not stand, man.

Recently Javorius Allen came in as the number 14 RB in Shawn Siegele’s excellent Zero RB targets list. I’ve recently noted how Allen’s fantasy finish last season was a mirage, but let’s dig into it a bit deeper.

Walter Sobchak: That rug really tied the room together, did it not?

Looking Back At 2017

Last season injuries to Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon, and Danny Woodhead resulted in an outsize workload for Allen. It should come as no surprise that Allen set career highs in:

  • Rush attempts
  • Rushing yards
  • Rushing touchdowns
  • Targets
  • Receptions
  • Fantasy points

Additionally, Allen was efficient as a red zone weapon.

Javorius Allen peripherals

A closer look at Allen’s game logs indicates that the Ravens all but phased him out of the game plan following their Week 10 bye.

Buck Allen Game Log

Woodhead returned to action in Week 11, and earned 30 targets over the last six weeks of the fantasy season.

Woodhead Overview

Allen earned only nine targets over the final six weeks of the fantasy season, and Woodhead’s return destroyed any value Allen provided as a receiver. Additionally, Allen lost his job as the primary RB to Alex Collins, and only saw a handful of carries over the last six games. Although Allen had done well over the first nine weeks of the season, the Ravens opted to deploy Collins/Woodhead ahead of him down the stretch.1

The Alex Collins Issue

Last year Collins was waived by the Seattle Seahawks on September 2nd, and was signed to the Ravens’ practice squad on September 3rd. Brian Malone had astutely identified Collins as a player who could have fantasy value on another team, and he was proven right. Good game-script allowed for the Ravens to deploy a run-heavy approach, and Collins made for a good buy candidate once he was promoted to the Ravens’ active roster. I didn’t expect much from Collins last season noting:

Seeing what Allen has managed to do with a full workload over the last two weeks, it’s difficult to argue against his RB1 status. Allen is siphoning away early down work from West and is seeing the bulk of the targets from the backfield. Now that pro bowl lineman Marshal Yanda is out for the rest of the season, Allen’s ability to catch passes from the backfield should help him retain his RB1 role. Allen has the physical tools of a true every-down back at the NFL level. If he’s consistently able to produce at his current level, Allen could be a waiver wire add that helps you dominate your league.

However, Collins prove to be the more explosive RB on limited touches, and forced the coaching staff into giving him a bigger workload.

Alex Collins Game Log

From Week 8 on, Collins earned significantly more opportunity than Allen in the rushing and receiving game.

Collins vs. Allen

Most interestingly, Collins’ emergence as a pass-catcher could mean that there’s less receiving work left over for Allen this season. Last season, Joe Flacco targeted the RB position 133 times, tied for fifth most in the NFL. It is unlikely that the Ravens target the RBs as heavily this season, given the upgrades they’ve made to the receiving corps.

Tying It Together

Considering the current state of the Ravens’ RB depth chart, Allen could re-ascend to the top of the depth chart if Collins misses time. Although Gus Edwards has impressed thus far in the Ravens’ first two preseason games, I expect that the Ravens will be looking to add a veteran RB or two before the season gets underway. There are a host of notable RBs who are on the roster bubble, and the Ravens might snap them up if they’re released. Veteran player such as: Charcandrick West, DeAndre Washington, Wendell Smallwood, Charles Sims, Ameer Abdullah, and Kapri Bibbs are veteran players who could threaten Allen’s position on the Ravens’ depth chart.2 Alternatively, the Ravens could opt to sign a competent veteran free agent RB like Orleans Darkwa.

The Ravens ranked sixth in the NFL in total expected points from their backfield last season, so it’s important to target players from this backfield. Allen may appear to be the backup to own right now, but there’s plenty of change yet to come. Keep an eye on who the Ravens opt to add to their roster over the next few weeks, as it’ll determine whether Allen is worth his cost on draft day.

  1. Allen’s stat line against the Pittsburgh Steelers is quite anomalous. He was used as their primary goal line back in that game, which explains his 6-25-2 rushing line. Given that he hardly saw many carries in the games leading up to this one, it’s incredibly doubtful that fantasy owners started him.  (back)
  2. much like Collins did!  (back)

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