During the time Lamar Jackson has been the quarterback in Baltimore, the Ravens haven’t had the most robust passing production. One exception has been the tight end, where former Oklahoma Sooner Mark Andrews has been one of the top producers at the position.
As a rookie, Andrews caught 34 passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns. In 2019, Jackson’s first full season as the starter, Andrews saw 98 targets, catching 64 of them for 852 yards and 10 TDs. Last season, he saw 88 targets, catching 58 for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2020, that was good enough to serve as TE6, while in 2019, Andrews finished as TE5.
Heading into 2021, Andrews remains a hot target at tight end, currently sitting at an ADP of TE4. But the team committed to improving its passing offense, adding a group of new tight ends and receivers. Will those additions dampen Andrews’ fantasy appeal?
New Receiving Options
In 2020, in addition to Andrews, the Ravens began to expand the passing game among receivers. Marquise Brown, who was selected in the 2019 draft, saw 100 targets to lead the team. He caught 58 passes for 769 yards and eight touchdowns. Brown returns in 2021, and he’ll be joined by new weapons. The first of those was free agent Sammy Watkins, who signed with the Ravens this off-season. He has 321 receptions for 4,665 yards and 33 touchdowns playing for the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs since being selected in the First Round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Ravens also spent two draft picks on receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft, beginning with top selection Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota. Bateman was taken No. 27 overall and finished with 147 receptions for 2,347 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons. While 2020 limited him to five games, in 2019, Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 TDs. He was a top prospect coming into the draft and figures to be a fixture on opposite Brown for the Ravens.
The other receiver taken in the draft was Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State. Wallace was taken in the Fourth Round and caught 205 passes for 3,434 yards and 26 touchdowns. His big season came in 2018, as he caught 86 passes for 1,491 yards and 12 TDs. In each of the last two seasons, he had at least 53 receptions and more than 900 yards, adding another weapon to the Ravens’ arsenal.
Competition at Tight End
In addition to receivers, the Ravens have more competition at tight end. That begins with returning tight end Nick Boyle, who caught 14 passes for 113 yards and two TDs in nine games in 2020. The year prior, Boyle caught 31 passes for 321 yards and two TDs. He gives the team another option at the position, but he’s not alone.
This off-season, the Ravens acquired tight end Josh Oliver from the Jaguars. Oliver is a prospect who hasn’t been able to stay healthy or on the field since being taken in the Third Round of the 2019 draft. In his rookie year, he saw six targets, catching three for 15 yards. He ended his rookie year on IR and was placed on IR before the start of the season in 2020. He’s a raw development project for the Ravens, a team that has found great value in young tight ends. He’s joined as a development player by Tony Poljan, a rookie undrafted free agent.
Poljan began his college career as a quarterback at Central Michigan, moving to tight end as a junior. He recorded 33 receptions for 496 yards and four TDs in that season. He transferred to Virginia for 2020, catching 38 passes for 411 yards and six TDs. Poljan is a raw weapon, giving the Ravens another option at tight end.
The Bottom Line
Andrews has been a weapon for the Ravens, catching 116 passes and 17 touchdowns in the last two seasons. That is part of the reason his ADP has risen so high at the position, as he appears to be one of the league’s best. He’s also commanded an incredible share of the Ravens’ passing game targets. In 2019, he saw 98 targets from 440 pass attempts or 22 percent. He also led the Ravens in targets, with the next closest option coming in at just 71 targets.
In 2020, he saw 88 targets in only 14 games, while the team threw just 406 times. That gave him 21.6 percent of the pass attempts, and aside from Brown’s 100 targets, no other receiver or back saw more than 48 targets. But with the addition of new weapons in 2021, that figures to change. Can Baltimore’s pass volume match it?
Jackson has averaged 388 pass attempts per season as a starter. The team has been proficient in running the ball with backs and Jackson himself, who has more than 1,000 yards rushing each of the past two seasons. An additional game should lead to more pass attempts, but even if the team gets to 500 attempts in 2021, Andrews will struggle to maintain the 22 percent of the passing offense he’s seen the past two seasons. He’s now got more options at tight end in addition to receivers Brown, Bateman, Watkins, Wallace, Devin Duvernay, and Miles Boykin, and a good pass-catching running back in J.K. Dobbins.
I believe that the Ravens will throw more in 2021. Bateman, Watkins, and Wallace will compete for targets. Still, I think Andrews will remain in the 85-90 target range, especially doing damage as a touchdown threat, which has helped sustain him atop the leaderboard in fantasy. Despite that, his ADP is still too high. Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson, rookie Kyle Pitts and a healthy George Kittle are all threats to finish in the Top 5. I like Andrews to remain a Top 10 target, but with increased competition in a low-volume pass offense, Top 5 feels like a big ask.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus 2 Canton network.