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Fantasy Football | Should owners start Ravens RB Alex Collins?

Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins (34) rushes past Miami Dolphins defenders in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
AP Photo/Gail Burton

In Week 8, the Baltimore Ravens Alex Collins had his first ever 100-yard rushing performance in the NFL. This type of production will get the fantasy football community all riled up because Collins is available in most fantasy leagues. He is available in 68 percent of all ESPN leagues and 67 percent of Yahoo leagues. Obviously, he is worth a waiver claim this week. But the real question should be: Is the Ravens’ ball carrier worth a fantasy start after his big performance in Week 8?

For now, he is not an automatic start each and every week. Instead, fantasy players will have to pick and choose their spots to use Collins.

Despite averaging 6.3 yards per carry in Week 8, Collins did not receive the lion’s share of the touches in Baltimore’s backfield, as Buck Allen was also used plenty. They both finished the contest with 20 touches. In fact, in the Ravens last three contests, Allen has out-touched Collins 47 to 45.

Why is this? Each running back’s role in the Ravens offense is game-script reliant. Collins should be getting the early down work, with a six-yard per carry average in 2017, while Allen, who actually leads the Ravens offense with 32 receptions this season, plays the role of a pass catcher.

And these roles are not likely to change much moving forward. According to Football Outsiders, Collins entered Week 8 with the fourth best running DVOA among all running backs in the NFL. And Allen has a 79 percent catch rate on the year.

With such defined roles within the offense, the running back work for the Ravens should be predictive based on the Las Vegas line. In games where Baltimore is the betting favorite, Collins’ role will increase. His attempts and yards all increase in this situation so far this season.

And when the Ravens are underdogs, Allen will be seeing an increased role in the offense, as the pass catcher is on the field more as they play in catch up mode.

Using the Vegas spreads as a start/sit advisor is not always the right move for fantasy purposes. But in this case, it is very clear: You will want to get Collins into your fantasy football lineup in games where the Ravens are the betting favorites moving forward.

Unfortunately for the fantasy owners who pick up Collins from waivers this week, they probably should not use their new toy in Week 9. The Ravens will be traveling on the road to face a Tennessee Titans team fresh off a bye without their starting quarterback.

While Week 9 is likely out of consideration, keep an eye on that Vegas line in the future and use Alex Collins accordingly.

Statistical Credits: FootballOutsiders.com, Rotoviz.com, NFL.com

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