Baltimore Ravens (0-0, 0-0 ATS) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-0, 0-0), 8:15 p.m., MNF
Implied Team Totals:
Spread/Total Movements: 5 to 4, 51.5 to 50.5
Ravens Injuries to Watch: RB Gus Edwards (ACL, IR), RB J.K. Dobbins (ACL, IR), RB Justice Hill (Achilles, IR), CB Marcus Peters (ACL, IR)
Raiders Injuries to Watch: RB Josh Jacobs (toe, probable), LB Nicholas Morrow (foot, IR), RB Jalen Richard (foot, IR)
Brolley’s Ravens Stats and Trends
The Ravens were one of five teams to finish with double-digit ATS covers last season.
Baltimore is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games.
Baltimore has played under the total in four straight games.
The Ravens have covered in five straight season openers.
Lamar Jackson is 13-3-2 ATS on the road.
The Ravens are absolutely scrambling running back after J.K. Dobbins (ACL), Gus Edwards (ACL), and Justice Hill (Achilles) each went down with season-ending injuries. UDFA Ty’Son Williams is now the lead back for now but the Ravens added Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Le’Veon Bell, and Trenton Cannon in recent days to replenish their backfield. Williams saw 24 carries on 29 snaps in the preseason for 130 yards (5.4 YPA) and one touchdown, and he averaged 3.42 yards after contact per carry. Las Vegas gave up the eighth-most rushing yards per game (106.4) and the third-most rushing TDs per game (1.1) to RBs last season.
The offense is going to be on Lamar’s shoulder (and legs) more than ever before with Batlimore’s unfortunate luck at running back. Lamar finished last season strong by averaging 27.9 FPG in the final five weeks, which ranked #2 to only Josh Allen (28.1) over that stretch. Lamar led all QBs with 67.0 rushing yards per game and he’s thrown 62 passing TDs over the last two seasons. The Raiders allowed the eighth-most FPG (20.8) to QBs last season.
Mark Andrews is now the focal point of the offense for Lamar with their backfield decimated by injuries and with their WRs struggling through injuries. He finished as the TE4 last season with 12.2 FPG but he left some meat on the bone. Andrews saw a higher share of the Ravens red-zone targets last year (28%) compared to the 2019 season (22%), but he scored only four TDs on 16 red-zone looks. Among the nine players who saw at least 25% of their team’s red-zone targets in 2020, seven of them scored at least six touchdowns. Las Vegas allowed the 16th-most FPG (12.3) to TEs last season.
Marquise Brown’s rank of WR41 with 11.4 FPG among WRs was completely underwhelming and his nine drops tied him for fourth-most. However, he played well at the end of the season with 80+ yards and/or a touchdown in each of the final eight games (playoffs included). The Raiders allowed the 14th-most FPG (38.3) to WRs this season.
Sammy Watkins signed a one-year deal with the Ravens this off-season, reuniting with OC Greg Roman, who coached him in Buffalo for Watkins’ most productive season in 2015. Watkins’ career has been going in the wrong direction with his YPR average (13.0>12.9>11.4) and his yards per game (51.9>48.1>42.1) going in the wrong direction in each of the last three seasons. Watkins managed 2/24/1 receiving in his lone matchup against the Raiders last season while with the Chiefs.
Brolley’s Raiders Stats and Trends
The Raiders and Titans finished a league-high 12-3-1 toward overs last season.
Las Vegas is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.
The Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their last five season openers.
Las Vegas is 8-0-1 toward overs in its last nine games as a road underdog.
Derek Carr posted his best campaign in 2020. He completed 348/517 passes (67.3%) for 4103 yards, 27 TDs, and nine INTs to finish as the QB19 with 18.1 FPG in 16 games. He actually averaged 19.1 FPG in his 15 full games as he left Week 15 after just 11 snaps because of a groin injury. Carr matched his career-best 7.9 YPA, which was greatly aided by his average depth of target spiking up to 8.1 yards after sitting at 6.6 yards in 2019. The Ravens allowed the ninth-fewest FPG (17.7) to QBs last season.
Darren Waller proved that his breakout campaign in 2019 was no fluke by resetting his career-best numbers in 2020. He went from finishing as the TE6 (13.9 FPG) in 2019 to finishing as the TE2 (17.5) in 2020 with 107/1196/9 receiving on 145 targets. Waller ended the year on an absolute heater, posting a ridiculous 43/654/4 receiving for a TE-best 26.7 FPG in the final five weeks. Baltimore ranked in the middle of the pack in FPG allowed (12.2) to TEs last season.
The Raiders are going all-in on Bryan Edwards after they released John Brown in August. Our Greg Cosell saw some similarities between Edwards and Justin Jefferson coming out of college, and they both excelled against SEC competition — Edwards finished with the third-most SEC receptions (324) and the fourth-most receiving yards (3045). The Ravens allowed the eighth-fewest FPG (33.7) to WRs last season.
Henry Ruggs never worked his way into a consistent role in Jon Gruden’s offense after the Raiders drafted him as the top WR in the 2020 draft. He finished with just 26/452/2 receiving (17.4 YPR) on 43 targets for a measly 6.6 FPG. The Ravens gave up the seventh-fewest FPG (33.7) and just 11.0 YPR to WRs last season.
The Raiders have been reluctant to give Josh Jacobs a bell-cow role in his first two seasons, and it won’t happen this year with the Raiders handing Kenyan Drake $11 million guaranteed this off-season. The Raiders clearly think the Cardinals misused Drake last season as he went from seeing 141 targets in 2018-19 to just 31 targets in 2020. Jacobs’ production was driven by touchdowns last season as he averaged 22.4 FPG in his seven games with at least one touchdown and just 9.6 FPG in his eight games when he failed to score a touchdown. The Raiders enter as four-point home underdogs so this week’s game script could work a little more in Drake’s favor.
Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.4 (31st)
Plays per game: 61.1 (28th)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 44.9% (32nd) | Run: 55.1% (1st)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 41.9% (29th) | Run: 58.1% (4th)
When the team is behind — Pass: 50.4% (32nd) | Run: 49.6% (1st)
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.5 (26th)
Plays per game: 64.5 (16th)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 53.7% (26th) | Run: 46.3% (6th)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 43.2% (27th) | Run: 56.8% (6th)
When the team is behind — Pass: 62.5% (24th) | Run: 37.5% (9th)
We heard whispers that the Ravens wanted to go more pass-heavy last year, but the COVID-shortend offseason got in the way of those plans. Well, now that disaster has struck in their backfield with Dobbins, Edwards, and Hill all done for the year — OC Greg Roman may be forced to lean more on Lamar Jackson’s arm until they get their running game sorted. And, in a stroke of much-needed luck, the Raiders secondary sets up as one to target once again.
HC Jon Gruden leaned heavily on the run last season, especially in tight ball games. The Raiders 46.3% run rate when the game was within a score was only lower than the Ravens (55%), Patriots (50.7%), Vikings (49.7%), Titans (49.3%), and Browns (47.5%). It definitely worked. The Raiders finished the season 10th in points per game and would have been even higher scoring on offense if they were just a bit more efficient in the red-zone. Vegas scored a touchdown on just 54% of their red-zone possessions, which ranked 10th-worst. How much the Raiders can rely on the run in Week 1 is entirely dependent on if they can slow down Jackson.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
There is just no telling how the Ravens are going to play it in Week 1 after the apocalypse struck their RB room. They apparently wanted to throw the ball more in 2020, but their plans went awry with the COVID-19 situation shortening the off-season, and QB Lamar Jackson really didn’t play well until they went back to the run-heavy approach late in the season.
Now, Baltimore might have no choice but to lean on Jackson’s arm more, at least until they get Ty’Son Williams and all their new RBs up to speed. That would coincide, in my opinion, with a heaping helping of TE Mark Andrews, who likely can handle this Cover-3 heavy Vegas defense. I expect to see him peppered with targets in Week 1.
I also see a particularly favorable matchup for Marquise Brown against CB Trayvon Mullen — can Hollywood break out and help Lamar on the perimeter? They really need him.
As for Vegas, their matchup got a little easier with the news that CB Marcus Peters tore his ACL within seconds of Gus Edwards also tearing his in Ravens practice on Thursday. Still, it’s not a great week for the Bryan Edwards breakout, as he’ll be opposed frequently by top CB Marlon Humphrey.
This is just a note, and not a fantasy recommendation — while Raider QB Derek Carr just doesn’t like to throw it deep, the Ravens do play a lot of Cover 0, and there might be a chance for Henry Ruggs to get one over the top here.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
What a disaster for the Ravens. While we did expect they’d try to throw it more this year, this was always going to be an offense built around the run, and they’ve lost their top three RBs to season-ending injuries in a two-week span. That will open the door for preseason star Ty’Son Williams to earn a huge opportunity.
Though the Ravens signed Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman, Williams is the youngest and he’s been in this building the longest. I expect him to be the top back against a Raider defense that surrendered the 5th-most FPG to RBs last year. He’s a volatile RB2, and it’s possible that he isn’t the lead back in the near future once Murray gets up to speed (I think Bell and Freeman are toast). Stylistically, Murray is the best fit of the vets, as our Greg Cosell said on Matchup Points this week.
If you’re asking me whom I’d rather roster, it’s Williams, with a small gap to Murray, and then a canyon-like dropoff to Freeman and Bell. If I’m playing one of them this week, it’s Williams by a mile.
For Monday night, RB Ty'Son Williams should still get most of the carries for Ravens because he has most familiarity with system.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 10, 2021
Latavius Murray would have 2 practices with Ravens before MNF. But his run style and experience makes him favorite to become eventual featured back.
Obviously, Lamar Jackson is in your lineups, as is Mark Andrews with his positive matchup. I’m fine firing up Hollywood Brown as a WR3… and I definitely don’t trust Sammy Watkins enough to use him in Week 1.
For Vegas, I’m staying away from the passing game with the exception of TE Darren Waller (duh). I like Bryan Edwards but this is not the week to predict a breakout, but if he does go off in this tough matchup, that’ll be a serious eye opener.
The Raiders are at home, but they’re four-point underdogs and RB Josh Jacobs is banged up (toe). Historically, he’s been less than half as productive in losses as in wins. He’s an RB3 given all that.
Josh Jacobs is the most gamescript dependent RB in fantasy:— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) July 22, 2021
In wins — 21.1 fantasy points per game
In losses — 10.3 FPG
17 of his 19 career TDs have come in wins.
Raiders win total is 7.5 — same as the Panthers and Broncos.
Behind Jacobs, I’m very curious to see if Kenyan Drake will have a fantasy-relevant role when the Raiders are trailing. I don’t trust that role enough that I’ll be using him in Week 1.