Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown is the top wide receiver on one of the most explosive offenses in football. Despite this, the second-year speedster is going off the board with the 70th overall pick as the WR30. Baltimore obviously loves to run the ball, but is everyone overreacting to Baltimore’s run-heavy nature?
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Fantasy Football: Marquise Brown Outlook
Most wide receivers have a tough time making an impact as a rookie, but Marquise Brown proved to be the exception to the rule. Overall, Brown finished with an impressive 46 receptions for 584 yards and seven touchdowns during his 14 games on the field.
However, a deeper dive shows that Brown owes much of his production to the beginning of the season. The rookie absolutely torched the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, going off to the tune of 147 yards and two touchdowns on just four receptions. This was easily his best week of the season, but it wasn’t the only time he was a featured part of the offense. Through the first five games of the season, Brown averaged 7.8 targets per game. The Miami game throws off his per-game yardage totals, but the fact remains that Baltimore wanted him to be a key piece in the passing attack.
Unfortunately, Brown suffered an injury after Week 5 and wasn’t truly the same for the rest of the season. While there were moments of gold in his tape, Brown primarily hobbled his way to the finish line. Brown missed two games from Weeks 6-17 and only hit the 50-yard threshold on one occasion. That said, he showed up to the playoffs in a big way, going off for seven receptions and 126 yards on 11 targets.
It’s worth noting that Brown did all of this without ever being fully healthy. We already talked about his in-season injury, but Brown also started the year while recovering from a Lisfranc injury. These types of injuries are no joking matter, and the fact he was able to be this productive despite his injuries just speaks to his talent.
The Baltimore Ravens aren’t going to be as efficient in 2020 as they were in 2019. This will still be a great offense, but they were playing at an unsustainably-high level. Lamar Jackson won’t be quite as effective on the ground, and he won’t throw a touchdown on 9% of his passes again. Most of the time, you want to avoid offenses with clear incoming regression. However, this isn’t one of those times.
While the overall offense is going to get worse, Marquise Brown should be better in 2020. For one, he’s going to be healthier. As previously mentioned, Brown was never fully healthy as a rookie. That’s going to change with a full offseason to recover, and Brown thinks he can be even faster as a sophomore. Additionally, he reportedly added some weight, which should help durability concerns.
Last year, Baltimore ran the ball absurdly well and usually had a comfortable lead throughout the game. This combination of play style and game script led to fewer passing attempts, which is bad news for a wide receiver. Baltimore probably won’t go 14-2 again, and the rushing offense will take a step back. This means more passing situations, which is good news for Brown.
Including the playoffs, Baltimore only lost three games all season. The Ravens couldn’t operate their preferred gameplan in these types of games, meaning they had to throw the ball at a higher rate. Those additional targets went to Marquise Brown, as he averaged nine targets per game in losses. This trend should hold over into 2020, which means that any decrease in passing efficiency should be easily offset by an increase in overall targets.
Marquise Brown Average Draft Position
As of this posting, FantasyPros ADP currently has Marquise Brown as the WR30 and the 70th overall player off the board. This puts him in the same tier as guys like Jarvis Landry, Julian Edelman, and Tyler Boyd and just behind guys like Stefon Diggs and DeVante Parker.
Personally, I’d take Marquise Brown over all of these guys. Deep targets are the most valuable for fantasy, and Marquise Brown does most of his work in the deep part of the field. He’s the top outside target in a great offense and already proved he has what it takes to succeed at the NFL level. While Baltimore’s overall offensive efficiency will go down, Brown’s projected increase in targets along with presumed growth as an NFL receiver should be more than enough to let him take the next step for fantasy purposes.
Landry is coming off a serious hip injury, and recent history tells us to avoid the injury dip. Edelman is in a bad offense and away from Tom Brady, while Tyler Boyd has the unknown Joe Burrow throwing him the ball. Diggs is a great receiver in a new offense, while DeVante Parker is going to have to deal with a quarterback change at some point in the near future. Marquise Brown is a safer option than all of these guys, and he arguably has the highest upside. If he’s there in the sixth or seventh round, make sure to grab him up.
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