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Fantasy Football Preview: Ravens vs. Cardinals

Breaking down the best fantasy football options for Sunday’s matchup

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the 1-0 Baltimore Ravens. Below is a breakdown of all the viable fantasy options in this contest, as well as which players to avoid to help you go home with a Week 2 victory.

Start of the week: Lamar Jackson

While this week won’t come quite as easy as his Week 1 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins, Jackson is in another prime spot for a huge fantasy day. The Cardinals defense isn’t in a much better place than the Dolphins but should be able to bring some pressure and make things a bit more difficult in the pocket. With CB Patrick Peterson suspended and Robert Alford on IR, the Cardinals are extremely thin in the secondary and the Ravens receivers should find ways to get open and make things easy on Jackson, despite less time in the pocket. Another area the Cardinals struggle in is the run game as they finished the 2018 season ranked dead last in run defense, allowing 154.9 YPG. While Terrell Suggs can still get after the quarterback, his real value comes in setting the edge in the run game. The Ravens will need to find ways to limit his impact and maintain the edge to avoid the running lanes from collapsing. Jackson will beat them through the air but it is on the ground where he will put himself in a position to finish as QB1 overall for week 2.

Sit: Larry Fitzgerald

The ageless wonder continues to defy the odds and remained a productive fantasy asset in week 1. Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals offense work primarily out of four wide receiver sets with Fitzgerald operating almost exclusively out of the slot. Brandon Carr has settled into his new role at slot cornerback and will be matched up with Fitzgerald for a majority of the afternoon. The Ravens will likely move a safety down to man the other slot position and this is where Arizona could be at an advantage and look to exploit them through the air. Carr is as solid as they come and an experienced veteran himself, leaving Fitzgerald with a tough matchup on Sunday and a volatile start as nothing more than low end flex/WR4 play.

Start: Christian Kirk

As highlighted above, The Cardinals will utilize four receiver sets most of the afternoon with Kirk lined up opposite of Fitzgerald in the slot. As Carr typically struggles with speed receivers, it is likely he is matched up with Fitzgerald as the Ravens move down a safety to put on Kirk. This makes him the preferred option in this matchup with his speed being a big disadvantage for a Ravens defense that is already down two defensive backs. Despite a quiet week 1 in which he totaled just four catches for 32 yards, Kirk saw a total of 12 targets which is a sign they want to get him heavily involved in this offense. Look for Kirk to utilize his speed to exploit his mismatch on a safety, carving out a nice role on Sunday which should leave him as solid WR3 play with room for upside.

Start: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards

Sunday will be another great match up for the Ravens backfield despite the Cardinals front seven looking much improved under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Keeping the Detroit Lions run game in check week 1, they face a taller task with the Ravens potent ground game. After lighting it up through the air, opposing teams now have to account for both aspects of the offense and won’t be able to stack the box, leaving the Cardinals defense stuck between a rock and a hard place. Ingram is the unquestioned leader of the backfield, but it was Edwards who led the team in snaps week 1 with 29. He figures to have a solid role moving forward as they look inclined to not over work Ingram early in the season, keeping the backs fresh with a rotation. This won’t eat into Ingram’s fantasy value as he is sure to make the most of his carries, leaving him as solid RB1 as he plays his first game in front of the home crowd. Despite the air raid offense we saw in week 1, expect the Ravens to gash the Cardinals on the ground leaving room for two backs to carve out a solid fantasy day. Look for Edwards to get plenty of volume leaving him as a flex play with low end RB2 upside.

Sleeper: Miles Boykin

With Hollywood Brown going supernova in week 1, Boykin has mostly flown under the radar despite also notching his first career touchdown against Miami. While his role in the offense remains a question mark due to the game script we saw in Miami, I am expecting solid production from the rookie receiver going up against a very weak secondary in Arizona. Brown will command most of the attention with his playmaking ability, but let’s not forget that Boykin posted 4.4 speed at the combine to go along with his tall frame making him a match up nightmare. Look for Boykin to be a mismatch on the outside and a factor in the red zone, establishing himself opposite of Brown. You will most likely find him available in your league and is a solid streaming option for week 2.

Proceed with caution: Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews and David Johnson

All three of these players figure to be in starting lineups everywhere for week 2 but carry some risk. Brown only saw a total of 12 snaps in week 1 which would hinder his every week upside, but I am chalking that up to game script as the team is surely easing him back from the foot injury. He looked completely healthy and is capable of breaking one on any play but his weekly floor/ceiling remains volatile until we see it on a weekly basis.

Mark Andrews has emerged as a TE1, carrying his chemistry with Jackson from the offseason into week 1 in which he eclipsed 100 yards and a touchdown. What worries me about Andrews is the committee at tight end as all of them are options in the passing game. The Cardinals allowed T.J. Hockenson to go for 6/131/1 in his NFL debut which bodes well for Andrews. Another dominate week will help move him further away from the timeshare at tight end. Until then, his floor remains and makes him risky despite his obvious talent.

David Johnson touched the ball 24 times in a tough match up against the Lions and was able to find plenty of success. Unfortunately for Johnson he is in for another tough match up in week 2 with a Ravens defense who is stingy against the run. Yards on the ground will not come easy and in order to reach RB1 numbers against Baltimore he will need to be effective in the passing game while also finding the end zone at least once. This leaves his likely scenario as a high end RB2 in a tough match up.