One question that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment in my DMs is what to do with the backfield in Baltimore for 2021. It wasn’t a concern when it was clear that J.K Dobbins was going to be the starter. At that point, it was more about just how much work he would get from Lamar Jackson.
With that injury, there are a few things to consider now, including the value of Dobbins in dynasty leagues. That’s what we will look to unpack here.
Does the offense change?
Dobbins was going to be an important part of the offense in Baltimore, serving as the lead back for the team. However, this offseason the team has made some changes that seem to lean towards trying to balance their offense a little more. The team brought in Sammy Watkins during free agency, and used a first-round selection on Rashod Bateman. As well as an overall narrative that they wanted Jackson to throw more.
The fact of the matter though is that the team are still going to run the ball. That is their identity, and the team are unlikely to miss Dobbins ability as a pass-catcher. Purely because the team doesn’t use the position. You’d have to go back to 2018 to find a running back that had more than 40 targets.
So the offense isn’t likely to change all that much, regardless of who they slot into the backfield.
Who is going to step up?
The current thought is that it’s going to be Gus Edwards who steps up into the lead role for the team. Certainly, he has had a consistent role on the team, with around 135 carries in the past three seasons, and an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Edwards was one of my favorite pickups later in drafts, as he has had flex consideration with the upside of becoming the lead back if Dobbins were to have gone down.
The thing is, Edwards might not actually see an expanded role. We could see the Ravens return to a committee, as they operated with in 2018. With a pass-catcher brought in and carries split between a handful of players. Let’s not forget that the team brought Todd Gurley in during the preseason to work with the team, and he is still available if the team opted to go that way.
So what should you do right now? I’d be comfortable with taking Edwards as my RB2, or flex option. Simply replacing Edwards in the place of Dobbins in your rankings isn’t right. It’s too risky. If I have Edwards, I’m looking to sell on the hype and make a shot on a late-round option on the waiver wire. If I lost Dobbins, then I’m just going to try and take those shots at running back for the team, as uncertainty does bring opportunity.
What to do with Dobbins
This is probably the most pressing question at the moment. Reason being that some may have traded a number of pieces to acquire him, only to be unsure of what that investment is now worth. Depending where you are on your roster build, should you look to move him on or not?
Dobbins injury was an ACL tear, which is common to return from without too many complications. However, there have been some reports that the ACL tear isn’t the full extent of the injury, and there could be more trauma to the joint. If that’s the case, there could be some concern for a full recovery.
Despite the injury, Dobbins is still a valuable dynasty asset, but has question marks around the injury. So obviously, there is a hit to his dynasty value. Before the injury he was worth a top-level first-round pick, and more. With the injury, I’d be looking to offer an older player, like Chris Carson, and a mid-level draft pick. That is if you are trying to acquire him for a contender. Acquiring him from a rebuilding team might be tougher, as they are likely to be happy to hold onto him and see how the injury pans out.
Note: As a side note, rebuilding teams are more likely to be looking at the long-term value of assets that are younger rather than make knee-jerk reactions.
At this moment in time though, in how I play dynasty, I don’t think I’d be looking to sell him. That is unless I really feel I have a shot this year, and next year I might be in a murky area. But really, hold on and wait until there is more news on the injury. The risk on losing out on everything is real, but I’d be tempted to ride it out.
Ultimately, I’d hold onto Dobbins in dynasty, unless there are extreme circumstances to move him. You are just losing a chunk of value if you move him on. Equally, I’m more than happy to sell the hype on Edwards. I’ve seen some trades for him that are valuing him as a top-tier running back. Personally, I don’t see him getting a full workload that Dobbins was likely to shoulder.
Instead, I think you’d be better to cash in and put in some low level pickups on Justice Hill or Ty’Son Williams. I’d even be tempted to put in a bid for Mark Ingram, who could well be traded back to the offense he knows, or at worst be a timeshare in Houston. That gives you some level of safety net. If you have the space, you could go with veteran Gurley, who has been rumored to be going back to sign with the Ravens.
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