At RotoViz, our motto is “seeing is believing.” Our team leverages various internal apps and external resources to make that motto come to fruition. The RB Countdown series will provide you fantasy analysis and outlooks on the top-50 running backs in PPR formats to empower you to make educated decisions on draft day.
Ravens running back Javorius Allen set career highs in multiple statistical categories last season. He and Alex Collins carried the team’s running game due to injuries to Danny Woodhead, Terrance West, and Kenneth Dixon.
Collins handled a high percentage of the early down and short yardage carries while Allen operated as the receiving back. Both RBs ended up combining for 2,001 total yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
Allen took advantage of the increased playing time by finishing as the RB23 in PPR formats. He touched the football or was targeted on 46 percent of his offensive snaps last season. The Ravens decision to not draft an RB in the NFL Draft after the retirement of Woodhead suggests the team has confidence in Collins, Allen, and Dixon in 2018. All of them find themselves entering a contract year trying to solidify a career-defining pay day. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three things you should know about Allen heading into fantasy drafts.
ALLEN IS ESSENTIALLY FREE AT HIS CURRENT ADP
Allen’s average draft position makes him a particularly attractive target late in best ball drafts. It is rare to find an RB at this stage of a fantasy draft who has averaged 11.3 touches and 9.2 fantasy points per game over 35 career games as a change-of-pace option. NFL teams now have a season worth of film on Collins and defensive coordinators will be better prepared to stop him. His history of fumbling could also loosen his grip on the starting job. Allen would be in a great position to thrive in the Ravens offense if Collins were demoted or missed games due to an injury. This is the type of upside worth stashing away as your RB4 or RB5 in fantasy drafts.
THE RAVENS RUNNING GAME CAN CONTINUE TO THRIVE UNDER MORNHINWEG
Marty Mornhinweg has spent many seasons in the NFL as an offensive coordinator. The Ravens ranked seventh in the NFL last season in rushing attempts per game and 10th in rushing yards per game behind one of the league’s top offensive lines.1 Here is a visual of how Mornhinweg’s offenses have used his RBs.
Over the last two seasons in Baltimore, there have been plenty of touches to go around, but Mornhinweg has not committed to one RB and prefers to operate as a committee.
RB volume can be influenced by positive, neutral, or negative game flow. The Ravens were trailing on 53 percent of their offensive plays last season. The team was still very committed to the running game. The Ravens ran the football 53 percent of the time on first down, 45.5 percent on second down, and 22.7 percent on third down in 2017. This trend is likely to continue with Mornhinweg as the offensive coordinator, which bodes well for Allen’s outlook. The downside is that he and Dixon are vying for the receiving back role.
SOME RED FLAGS
NFL BREAKOUT AGE MATTERS
Age and fantasy points per game are critical variables when evaluating the RB position. RotoViz writer Blair Andrews has examined the effects of age on NFL production for RBs. As the RB23 in 2017, Allen broke out last year at the age of 26 — a rather late breakout. This is concerning because younger breakouts tend to outscore older breakouts starting the very next season.
Younger breakouts also outscore their older counterparts throughout their careers.
Younger breakouts tend to be better for longer with more RB2 seasons throughout their careers. These statistical trends to do not forecast a sunny outlook for Allen’s 2018 season.
Competition for Touches
Collins is considered a low injury risk according to Sports Injury Predictor.2 This also puts a damper on a Allen’s upside case. Collins averaged 19.2 touches per game from Week 8 to the end of the regular season. It would appear the team wants to get him more involved.
Even if Collins does come off the field for passing downs, however, Allen and Dixon could find themselves having to split the change of pace carries and receiving opportunities. Dixon has only played 12 games in his short NFL career, but in those games he’s been about equally as effective as Allen.
In half of Dixon’s 12 games he finished in the top-36, and in five of those he was a top-24 back. Allen has managed a top-24 finish less than 30 percent of the time.3 So Allen does have a number of obstacles to overcome to find fantasy relevance.
The red flags are worth taking seriously, but at Allen’s current ADP, there’s little risk in drafting him. He is being taken as the 63rd RB off the board in MFL10s. However he should have enough standalone value to be worth adding at that price, with the upside to produce a lot more if things break his way. As someone you can often get with your final pick, Allen represents an intriguing way to round out your best ball RB corps.
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- And 2018 will see All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda return to the line after missing most of the 2017 season due to injury. (back)
- Dixon, however, is a high risk based on his substantial injury history. (back)
- Though Allen has finished in the top-12 in a higher percentage of his career games than Dixon. (back)