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The Baltimore Ravens finished 2019 with a 14-2 record, and their offense evolved into the most historic rushing attack in NFL history. The offense is centered around now third-year quarterback Lamar Jackson and his legs, but in 2020, the passing attack will have to be more a focal point.
The Ravens ran the ball more than any other team (596 attempts) and posted an NFL-record 3,296 rushing yards and 206.0 rushing yards per game. Baltimore has the weapons for a successful passing attack, but the ground game appears to the future of the team’s success.
Jackson’s second-most targeted receiver was rookie wideout Marquise Brown, who dealt with an ankle sprain and hamstring strain that forced him to miss two games, but probably should have been more. Brown showed up on the injury report nine times and played through pain in more than half the season.
Brown enters year two with a lowly betting prop per DraftKings Sportsbook, that’s worth taking a serious look. DraftKings sets his receiving yards at 800.5 (-110) after recording 584 in 14 games last season. Let’s take a look at the over or under for Brown’s second season in Baltimore and which is the best bet for your money.
Run N’ Gun
Baltimore was the only team in the league to throw to their tight ends (42.69%) more than their wide receivers (42.22%) last year. The Ravens finished last in the league throwing to their wideouts, but that was due to their success rushing. Brown had a 77.5% catchable target rate on 55 targets from Jackson and a 64.8% catch rate overall on 71 targets.
Starting his rookie season, he posted five-straight games of five targets or more, including totals of 7, 9, and 13. After Week 5, Brown only had one regular-season game of more than five targets as Jackson continued to gain confidence in his tight ends.
In four of his last five games of the regular season, he posted 15 yards or less. In three of those games, he recorded single-digits with totals of -2, 1, and 6 yards receiving. He dealt with injuries, but versus Tennessee in Baltimore’s playoff loss, Brown went off for 126 yards on seven receptions – his second-career 100-yard game and first since Week 1’s victory over Miami.
Brown recorded nine red zone receptions (13th) and finished fourth in cushion with 5.08 yards separation per route run doing a great job at breaking off big plays per PlayerProfiler. He completed his rookie season with eight receptions of 20-yards or more and four plays of 40-yards or more.
We witnessed his flashes versus Miami when he scored two touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards for 147 total yards on four receptions. In that game, Brown hit 20.33 mph on one of the touchdowns per NFL NextGen Stats, showcasing his 4.27 40-yard speed and game-breaking ability.
The 2020 offense remains mostly the same, but the Ravens lost tight end, Hayden Hurst, to the Falcons and drafted three new offensive weapons to strengthen their running back and wide receiver depth. Baltimore selected running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round, wide receiver Devin Duvernay in the third, and James Proche in the sixth.
Duvernay and Proche have the opportunity to be WR3-WR5 in this offense, and Dobbins will be the RB2. The two receivers shouldn’t take away from Brown’s productiveness too much, but if any of three rookies do, it would be Dobbins as a pass and receiving threat out the backfield.
The Raven’s strength of schedule (.437) ranks the easiest in the NFL, which is terrific news for the team that finished with the best overall record in the league and a franchise-record 14 wins. The AFC North as a division has the best SOS of all the conferences after having three teams finished 8-8 or worse in 2019.
There aren’t many negatives to Baltimore’s schedule, but seven games will feature defenses that finished in the top 10 passing from a season ago. Four of those contests will come versus division opponents Cleveland (7th) and Pittsburgh (3rd), two teams Brown recorded 10 receptions, 64 yards, and one touchdown versus in four games last season.
Brown will get second chances versus the Chiefs, Patriots, Texans, and Titans this season after posting 7 receptions and 120 yards in three games, and his breakout 7-catch 117-yard playoff performance against the Titans. Brown averaged 5.9 targets per game last season overall, 4.0 versus the AFC North, and 7.0 versus the familiar four out of division opponents from 2019.
Baltimore will have four of eight at home (Bengals, Giants, Jaguars, Titans) versus teams outside of the top-10 in passing yards per game. On the road, they only have three contests with teams inside the top-10 (Browns, Patriots, Steelers) with two coming in the division. Baltimore’s road schedule looks favorable, which makes this team even more dangerous moving forward.
|Week / Opponent||Opponent Passing Yards Allowed Per Game|
|Week 1, 14 vs Cleveland||216.9 (7th)|
|Week 2 at Texans||267.3 (29th)|
|Week 3 vs Chiefs||221.4 (8th)|
|Week 4 at Redskins||238.8 (18th)|
|Week 5, 17 Vs Bengals||244.8 (21st)|
|Week 6 at Eagles||241.6 (19th)|
|Weeks 7, 12 vs Steelers||194.6 (3rd)|
|Week 9 at Colts||248.9 (23rd)|
|Weeks 10 at Patriots||180.4 (2nd)|
|Week 11 vs Titans||255.0 (24th)|
|Week 13 vs Cowboys||223.5 (10th)|
|Week 15 vs Jaguars||236.1 (16th)|
|Week 16 vs Giants||264.1 (28th)|
All in all, Brown is returning 24 receptions, 301 yards, and one touchdown versus opponents from 2019 (9 games). However, Brown was on the injury report for nine total games, so entering healthy 2020 is enormous for his stock after he admitted to playing with a screw in his foot throughout the year.
His health is the primary concern this season in addition to Baltimore’s historic rushing attack and where it will pick up in 2020. Jackson will attempt to be the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Mark Ingram has two years remaining on his contract, and Dobbins enters the lineup as a change of pace back. Brown can feed off Hurst’s 30 receptions, 349 yards, and two touchdown-void he leaves from a year ago.
FantasyPros projections hold Brown just under his prop total of 800.5 yards with 795.4. Brown is forecasted to catch 60.7 passes for 6.4 touchdowns in addition to his projected total. Brown would only need to average 51 yards per game to surpass his prop bet, and while that’s not much to ask the WR1 for, it’s more of a need too on his end for the Ravens attempt at repeated success.
“Hollywood” Brown is a deep-threat and home run-hitter in the slant game, but unreliable WR1 with the Ravens rushing attack being so successful. Brown only recorded three games of 50 yards or more last season, and Ravens’ leading receiver, Mark Andrews, hit that mark eight times during the regular season.
While the Ravens had all the opportunities to draft a wide receiver in the first or second round, they chose linebacker and running, putting their concern in continuing what Baltimore does best, run and stop the run. Hollywood Brown could be a star in this league one day, but his second season off a significant foot injury and lackluster passing leaves questions that need answers.
If Brown’s season starts with 39 targets in his first five games as his rookie year did, he could maintain a healthy dosage of shares to accelerate the over in his 800.5 yard-prop. On that pace of 7.8 targets through 16 games, his shares would translate to 124.8 targets, an 88.6%. Brown’s 64.7% catch rate would convert to 80.74 receptions at that target amount and his 12.7 yards per catch to 1,025.3 yards.
Brown likely won’t haul in 80 receptions for 1,025 yards, but even if he increased his numbers by 50% instead of the 88.6% bump, we’re still in the ballpark. Increasing his production from a year ago by 50% would equate to 69 receptions, 876 yards, and 10.5 touchdowns. That’s more like it in my mind minus the touchdown production, although his seven touchdown receptions from a season ago are impressive.
In the nine games that Brown played healthy up until November 25th, he averaged 3.8 receptions, 6.4 targets, 57.6 yards, and 0.66 touchdowns per game. He totaled 35 receptions, 58 targets, 519 receiving yards, and six touchdowns during that stretch then fell off the back end of the season playing with that screw in his foot; finishing with 11 receptions, 13 targets, 65 receiving yards, and one touchdown in his final five games.
Brown, now fully healthy, came in the league at 165 pounds and upped his offseason workouts to reach 170-175 pounds for this upcoming season. Hollywood admittedly said he is going to have a statement year with Baltimore, and after viewing the strength of schedule, combined with teams going to key on Jackson’s legs, this is genuinely Brown’s best chance at a breakout year for Brown.
Back the 5-foot-9 sparkplug from Oklahoma to surpass 800 receiving yards (-110) and command more attention in the passing game year two with Action Jackson as his quarterback. You can