Thursday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Jets vs. Ravens
Thursday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Jets vs. Ravens

This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.

After losing seven of their first eight games, the Jets come in with four wins in their last five, allowing 22 points or fewer in each of their last four. Then again, they lost to the Bengals in that span, one that included wins over the Giants, Redskins, Raiders and Dolphins, so it's not like they've shown themselves to be capable against strong teams. And speaking of strong teams, the Jets will face one Thursday night, with the 11-2 Ravens coming in on a nine-game win streak that included victories over the Patriots, Seahawks, Rams, 49ers and Bills. As a result of their dominant success, they are 14.5-point favorites in a game with a mediocre 44.5-point total on FanDuel Sportsbook, one that is surely to have most people backing Baltimore.

QUARTERBACKS

Lamar Jackson ($13,800 DK, $17,500 FD) has been the best quarterback in fantasy football this season, and a matchup against the Jets easily has him as the most expensive player on DraftKings and FanDuel, with his DraftKings salary pushing all the way to $20,700 if used as a captain, a total that represents 41.4 percent of the salary cap. The Jets' defense is pretty average against quarterbacks, allowing the 15th-fewest (or 18th-most, however you want to look at it) fantasy points to the position on DraftKings and tied-for-14th-fewest on FanDuel. They haven't allowed a rushing touchdown to a quarterback since Week 6, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's 65 rushing yards last Sunday were the most since Josh Allen rushed 10 times for 38 yards and a touchdown against them in Week 1. Nevertheless, Jackson is unlike any other quarterback in the league, and the Jets will surely have their troubles with him, even if they've allowed a league-low 3.0 yards per rush attempt this season, and the Buccaneers (981 rushing yards allowed) are the only team to allow fewer yards on the ground than the Jets (1,025). Jackson's salary is sky high, but it's not so high that people will have to look elsewhere, as he does so much for the Ravens' offense that not having him is more about being contrarian than thinking there's a better player in the game.

On the other hand, the Jets' Sam Darnold ($9,800 DK, $14,500 FD) isn't nearly as dominant of a player, though he does come in with at least 270 yards and multiple touchdowns in three of his last four games. Unfortunately, the Redskins', Raiders' and Dolphins' defenses don't hold a candle to the Ravens', which has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on DraftKings and FanDuel. The cumulative numbers are obviously dominant because they allowed multiple quarterback touchdowns once this season, which came against Patrick Mahomes in Week 3, and they've been especially strong of late, allowing fewer than 170 passing yards in four of their last five, including three touchdowns and four interceptions in that span. Darnold is surely going to have his hands full, though he could be throwing quite a bit with the expectation that the Ravens will be ahead of most of the game.

RUNNING BACKS

The running backs in this one could have their hands full, as the Ravens have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position on DraftKings and eighth-fewest on FanDuel, while the Jets have allowed the 10th-fewest on both sites. The Jets' Le'Veon Bell ($9,400 DK, $13,000 FD) missed last weekend's game because of an illness, but he is apparently healthy enough to return, and he should get his full allotment of touches, especially with Bilal Powell ($3,200 DK, $9,500 FD) very questionable to play because of an ankle injury. Making matters worse, he also has the flu, though the ankle is the more serious concern. Powell's potential absence should increase the workload for Ty Montgomery ($3,000 DK, $8,500), who is questionable to play because of foot and hip issues, though Bell is still likely to get a vast majority of the work, like he normally does. Consideration for Bell basically comes down to whether you think he'll be the best offensive weapon for a team that is expected to get blown out, which really isn't a crazy assumption since he does a lot of work in the passing game in addition to his rushing attempts. Making Bell a captain/MVP is certainly a consideration for those who think the Jets keep it close since he's involved quite a bit, but, you know, they're 14.5-point underdogs.

The Baltimore backfield situation is pretty clear on the surface, as Mark Ingram ($10,400 DK, $14,000 FD) gets most of the running back touches ahead of Gus Edwards ($4,800 DK, $7,000 FD) and Justice Hill ($200 DK, $5,000 FD), but the other running backs aren't really Ingram's main competition; it's Jackson. Ingram leads the team with 181 rushing attempts this season, 30 more than Jackson, but his 887 rushing yards are 130 fewer than Jackson, and while he leads the team with nine rushing touchdowns, Jackson is only two behind. So, yes, Ingram is the running back to target if you want exposure to the Baltimore backfield, but it's a very high price to pay for a running back who is 15th in the league in rushing attempts. We shouldn't ignore that his nine rushing touchdowns are more than all but four players in the league, and he even has three receiving touchdowns in the past four weeks, even if he hasn't gotten more than four targets in a game over that span. A combination of Jackson and Ingram is pricey on both sites, but you're getting exposure to a significant portion of their offense. Ingram could even be a differential captain/MVP play (though not one that will be really low owned), but you need Jackson to have an average game for that to have a chance of working out well.

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

The Titans are the only team in the NFL that has thrown fewer passes than the Ravens this season, while the Redskins are the only team to have fewer receptions. Additionally, the Ravens 2,804 receiving yards are the third-fewest in the league (trailing the Redskins and Steelers), but amazingly no team has scored more receiving touchdowns than the Ravens' 29. The volume of targets and yards may not be there, but we can't ignore Baltimore's pass catchers just because Jackson doesn't throw a ton of passes. Tight end Mark Andrews ($8,400 DK, $12,000 FD) has been their most consistent aerial threat, leading the team in targets (82), receptions (54), receiving yards (707), receiving touchdowns (seven) and air yards (870). He is questionable to play because of a knee injury, but limited practices Tuesday and Wednesday have him trending toward playing. Andrews' season started off with a bang, catching eight passes in each of the first two games, putting up more than 100 yards and a touchdown in each of those games, but he has gone over 75 yards just once since then, and he's reached eight targets only once in the past six games. You could say he's touchdown dependent because of his price, but there may not be a ton of receiving touchdowns in the game anyway, so getting one from Andrews at an elevated price may not be that bad. If he's unable to play because of the injury, Hayden Hurst ($4,200 DK, $8,500 FD) could run more routes, though his receiving upside isn't nearly as high, even though it's higher than third-string tight end Nick Boyle's ($4,400 DK, $7,000 FD).

The biggest difficulty with trying to land on one or two Ravens pass-catchers is that Jackson really likes to spread the ball around, with the latest example coming just last week against Buffalo when he threw 23 passes, with two players getting four targets and five others getting three each. Marquise Brown ($8,200 DK, $8,000 FD) has been the most popular non-Andrews option, as his 63 targets, 39 receptions, 518 receiving yards, 662 air yards and six receiving touchdowns are all second on the team, but he's gotten four or fewer targets in five of the past six games, including last week when he caught all three of his targets for minus-2 yards. You can try all you want to make a case for Brown over guys like Willie Snead ($5,000 DK, $8,500 FD), Seth Roberts ($1,800 DK, $6,000 FD), Miles Boykin ($200 DK, $6,000 FD) and Chris Moore ($200 DK, $5,000 FD), but none of them really stand out above the others in terms of volume. Given those situations, why spend up for Brown when you can get considerable savings on DraftKings for Snead other than maybe for an extra catch or two? Boykin leads the team with a 16.7 aDOT, though he's now gone two straight games without a target. The plus for all of these guys is that the Jets' secondary, which wasn't that good to begin with, is in shambles due to injuries, so they all theoretically have plus matchups.

The same cannot be said for the Jets' wideouts and tight ends, who face one of the best secondaries in the NFL. While their season-long numbers aren't elite, the Ravens have given up just two touchdowns to wide receivers in the past five games, and they have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season. Making matters worse for the Jets, tight end Ryan Griffin, who leads the team with five receiving touchdowns, has been ruled out with an ankle injury, which means Daniel Brown ($2,000 DK, $5,000 FD) is expected to start in his place.

With Demaryius Thomas ($5,200 DK, $8,000 FD) doubtful to play, the Jets only have two wide receivers who have gotten more than 20 targets this season: Jamison Crowder ($7,800 DK, $8,500 FD) and Robby Anderson ($9,000 DK, $13,500 FD). Crowder leads the team in targets (93) and receptions (60), but Anderson leads them in air yards (1,255) and receiving yards (662) while sitting second in receiving touchdowns (four). More importantly, Anderson has been great lately by catching 14 of 21 targets for 218 yards and a touchdown in his last two games (seven catches and over 100 yards in each one) while Crowder has seven catches on 20 targets for 55 receiving yards in his last three games combined. There is this thought that Crowder is a highly targeted underneath receiver, but he hasn't had more than nine targets in a game since Week 1 and his red zone work has all but disappeared. With Thomas out, the Jets are expected to have Vyncint Smith ($600 DK, $5,000 FD) play a bigger role, mostly as a deep threat, while Braxton Berrios ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) could get a few more offensive snaps, though likely not enough to make any kind of impact. Anderson will always have the upside among the group and could be a decent captain/MVP selection because he's fully capable of cleaning up during garbage time, but you have to expect that the Ravens will focus on shutting him down with their elite corners.

KICKERS

The salary differences between Justin Tucker ($4,000 DK, $10,000 FD) and Sam Ficken ($3,800 DK, $9,000 FD) seem like they should be greater, as Tucker is widely considered the best kicker in the league while Ficken is...some guy who plays for the Jets. However, the Ravens' offense has been so effective recently that Tucker has had no more than two made field goals in any of the last six games while Ficken has connected on seven field goals in his last three. The big difference is that Tucker still gets PAT chances when the Ravens don't punch the ball into the end zone, while Ficken is left on the sideline as the Jets punt on many of their non-touchdown drives. Ultimately, Ficken may have higher upside, as crazy as that sounds, but Tucker's floor is significantly higher and more reliable.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

The Ravens ($5,800 DK) and the Jets ($2,800 DK) co-lead the NFL with five defensive touchdowns this season, though it's the former that will be the sought-after unit Thursday night. With 17 sacks and six turnovers in the past four games, all while allowing a total of 47 points, the Ravens' defense figures to be a very popular fantasy pick, and there will surely be a decent number of entries with them as captain. The Ravens haven't registered that many sacks over the course of the season, but Darnold's 7.4 percent sack rate is the same as Jameis Winston's, and only two quarterbacks have been sacked more this season than the Buccaneers' signal caller. Meanwhile, 25 quarterbacks have been sacked more than Jackson, and five of his six interceptions came in Weeks 4 and 5. The Jets' defense has shown it's capable of turning interceptions and fumbles into touchdowns, but it's always highly unlikely, and especially Thursday against the Ravens.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Lairdinho.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a seven-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for the Football Writer of the Year Award.
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