We first told you about Ravens’ running back Keaton Mitchell in early October, and it only took one month for his breakout game to put everyone else on his radar.
Baltimore already has “The Gus Bus,” but after what the “Mitchell Mobile” did Sunday in a home blowout against Seattle, it will be hard for the Ravens to park him back in the garage.
Mitchell, who turned nine carries into 138 yards and a touchdown, wasn’t just used in garbage time on Sunday. He received an equal amount of carries (four) to Gus Edwards and Justice Hill in the first half. Edwards earned just one more in the game, too, while Mitchell worked alongside Hill in the second half.
KEATON MITCHELL: SPEED, SPEED, SPEED
Mitchell, an undrafted back out of East Carolina University, was the third-fastest running back in his class, behind only Miami’s De’Von Achane and Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs. He posted a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and had the fastest 10-yard split (1.48 seconds), too.
His speed makes him intriguing solely for his ability to extend plays. On runs that most RBs turn into nothing, Mitchell creates monster gains with a special gear few possess.
Mitchell constantly flashed this ability in college. He had only two games with under 100 yards rushing last season, and led the CFB in 15+ yard runs. Ultimately, Mitchell racked up 2,584 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons at East Carolina.
Mitchell finished with a 7.2 collegiate YPC (94th percentile). He was also a highly-capable receiver, posting an 8.9% target share (70th percentile).
Mitchell’s stop-and-start gear is second to none, and it popped all Sunday afternoon in Week 9 In fact, to open the game, all four of Mitchell’s first-half carries went for more than eight yards.
Soon after, Mitchell broke off both a 40 and 60-yard play, one resulting in a touchdown. During the TD run, he hit 20.99 mph on the run, the fastest speed of any Ravens ball carrier this season, per Next Gen Stats:
While Edwards picked up two scores of his own and has been a steady source of “Thunder,” Baltimore hasn’t had much “lightning” to their 2023 backfield.
Indeed, Baltimore will likely remain a backfield-by-committee. Still, Mitchell’s ability to rack up yards and touchdowns from anywhere on the field, at any given moment, and in the blink of an eye, adds a dimension that no one else in this RB room brings.
Sure, Edwards will remain the guy close to the goal line. Perhaps Hill continues to see some change-of-pace work. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be long before Mitchell carves out red zone work and potentially hurdles Hill on the depth chart as the go-to speed and receiving back.
RUNNING BACK COMMITTEE IN BALTIMORE?
As Chris Towers said, “you probably can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube,” in reference to Baltimore needing to play him in weeks going forward. Greater than eight yards per carry should put Hill’s job in jeopardy, maybe not just for this season but for years to come when (and if) J.K. Dobbins can return from a torn Achilles.
Furthermore, injuries in the NFL this season have made it harder for for fantasy owners to find solid running back depth. At minimum, Mitchell can help provide some real upside on the bench or in a lineup in crunch times.
Mitchell is only owned in 3-7% of leagues, with a start rate of 1%. If you started Mitchell on Sunday, some may be asking how you got a hold of the NFL’s “script” for Week 9.
Mitchell appeared completely healthy in Week 9 after returning from a preseason injury. He was active in both weeks six and seven, but saw no carries. He then missed Week 8 against a poor run defense Cardinals team before unloading on Sunday.
HOW MUCH FAAB TO SPEND? KEATON MITCHELL REST OF SEASON FANTASY OUTLOOK
“It’s many more games like this to come,” Keaton said. We agree.
Baltimore faces a tough divisional test in Week 10 versus Cleveland before seeing two games with teams in the middle of the pack against the run: Cincinnati (17) and the Los Angeles Chargers (18).
While Hill is unlikely to disappear, Mitchell seems primed to take over 25-30% or more of this backfield sooner than later.
No team runs the ball more often or more effectively than Baltimore. In fact, the Ravens rank first in run-play percentage (51.55%), yards (1443), and TDs (17). Mitchell could not ask for a better run-game environment in which to grow.
Thus, Mitchell is a must-add on the Week 10 Waiver Wire, and arguably worth a No.1 priority claim. In fact, we’d recommend spending 25-30% or higher FAAB to secure Mitchell.
Speed like this, in the most fertile of running games, should not be overlooked. Do what you must in order to secure Keaton Mitchell before it’s too late.