In week 11 versus the Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens lost tight end Mark Andrews for the season after an already controversial hip-drop tackle by defender Logan Wilson.
Through his previous nine games, Andrews caught 43 passes on 59 targets for 521 yards and six touchdowns. Who will step up to try and replicate that production for Baltimore? Can second-string tight end Isaiah Likely build on impressive flashes during limited opportunity in his 2022 rookie campaign?
LIKELY’S STRONG ROOKIE SEASON
Last year Likely showed that even without Mark Andrews, Ravens tight ends could be fantasy difference makers. In his three games where he saw at least a 67-percent snap share, he posted 15 receptions, on 25 targets, and two scores.
This Travis Kelce-like usage was not, likely, to continue, but it was at least very promising concerning Likely’s future.
Fast forward to 2023, and as Baltimore’s primary tight end, Likely only has one catch on three targets through two games…the complete opposite.
So why the switch? And can we expect similar outcomes for the rest of this season?
NEW FACES IN THE ROOM
Speaking of complete opposites, when Todd Monken signed on as the Ravens’ Offensive Coordinator for ’23, there was a legitimate argument to be made that this offense could look a lot different than what we were used to seeing from the Lamar Jackson era, which had previously only had Greg Roman, building one of the most run-heavy schemes in the NFL.
Enter Monken, and people wondered if it could be a total flip, resembling something that paralleled the aerial show that made Jameis Winston a fantasy QB1 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Instead, even with the additions of wide receivers Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr., the aerial show hasn’t come to fruition.
Jackson has run the ball 9.18 times per game, similar to his 9.33 last year. The Ravens have thrown the ball the 5th-least in the league, same as last year. And those passes are still going to running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, at similar respective rates as last season.
If you didn’t know any better, one might think Greg Roman was still calling the plays.
ZAY FLOWERS FANTASY OUTLOOK
Flowers started his own rookie campaign hot. Through six games, he put up a 35/367/1 line on 48 targets.
But his last five games has seen only 18/221/0 on half as many targets. In theory, Andrews’ absence could be filled by Flowers returning to his early-season form.
If so, fantasy managers would be looking at a FLEX option with upside, as Zay was the WR29 in half-PPR thorugh six weeks, and would have a shot to rise into WR2 territory.
But if not, Flowers could struggle to stay in the WR3 conversation, as he’s been the WR37 during weeks 7-11.
Zay’s midseason cool down might not be entirely in his control, as the timing closely coincides with one teammate’s midseason heat up.
ODELL BECKHAM JR FANTASY OUTLOOK
After failing to surpass the WR42 rank in any game through week 8, OBJ hasn’t finished worse than the WR31 in his last three.
This includes his first 100-yard game of the season, catching four balls on seven targets for 116 yards this past week against the Bengals.
Perhaps the 31-year old just needed a little time to settle into an offense with a QB as unique as Lamar while going a year and a half without real game action since tearing his ACL, or rather, where his ACL was supposed to be, during Super Bowl LVI with the Los Angeles Rams.
Ironically, these last three weeks have seen Beckham putting up fantasy-relevant numbers while also seeing three of his four worst snap counts (59 percent through week 8, 37 percent through weeks 9 and 11).
An uptick to his previous snap share begets significantly more opportunity, and if OBJ resembles most of his old form, then the upside lies with him over Flowers.
If you see both on your waiver wire and are wondering who’s the better option, the current evidence points to Beckham.
RASHOD BATEMAN FANTASY OUTLOOK
Bateman saw his first touchdown of the season against the Bengals in week 11.
However, hope for fantasy relevance is still dwindling for Bateman as that touchdown was his only catch on just two targets. It reflects the continuance of a disappointing season for a receiver who some saw as a sleeper candidate with the arrival of Todd Monken.
Reason for hope, though? Week 11 saw a season-high 79 percent snap share. And even with Mark Andrews active in week 10, Bateman saw his second-highest snap share of 74 percent.
After struggling to cement himself as even third on the wide receiver depth chart, battling with Nelson Agholor, the recent numbers draw a path that say he may be beginning to pull ahead for the remainder of the season.
Agholor is still the leader of the receiving core in yards-per-target at 10.0, but if Odell Beckham hits his stride, OBJ may take over the role of the vertical threat, as his last three games have seen 13.25 yards-per-target.
At 6.9, Bateman’s YPT remains the lowest of the group, and appears to be more likely to fill a short yardage/possession receiver role than Agholor, at least for now, opening up the possibility of FLEX relevance in deeper leagues.
ISAIAH LIKELY FANTASY OUTLOOK
With everything in Todd Monken’s offensive scheme so similar to Greg Roman’s tenure with the Ravens, why is Likely’s season production the opposite of his rookie year so far?
FantasyAlarm’s Andrew Cooper did the dirty work of pointing out why there is still legitimate hope for Isaiah’s still-limited 2023 sample size.
And though you may have heard it a thousand times already, here’s another friendly reminder of how game-changing fantasy wide receivers are inherently harder to find than tight ends. In half-PPR, 10 points per game can break you into top-6 territory at tight end while struggling to break you into the WR2 range at receiver.
Was Isaiah’s lack of productivity filling in for Andrews this past week just a stroke of bad luck? If so, the possibility of approaching his 2022’s numbers as Baltimore’s primary tight end is worth finding out if he’s sitting on your waiver wire.
If you’ve gotten this far in your fantasy season, holding on to a solid amount of FAAB, waiting patiently for the right moment, this might be the time to get more liberal with your spending. Other fantasy managers may be weary with what they’ve seen from Likely so far, but one good game, and then everyone will remember his 2022 production, and his waiver price will be expensive.
So now is the time to jump on the upside.
Tune in throughout the week to find out where the Andrews-less Baltimore receiving options will land in Wolf’s Week 12 and Rest Of Season Rankings.