Lamar Jackson’s top target returning for AFC Championship game

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Mark Andrews

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One of the league’s best offenses is getting even better, just in time for the AFC Championship.

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NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Baltimore Ravens are officially activating tight end Mark Andrews for Sunday’s game. Andrews missed two months with what was thought to be a season-ending ankle injury.

The All-Pro tight end makes an already-great Ravens offense into a lethal group. Baltimore’s offense ranks fourth in the league in success rate (47.3%) this season. They’re even better when they have two tight ends on the field. In 82 plays of 12 personnel, the Ravens averaged a 48.8% success rate. 63 of those 82 plays came in the 10 weeks when Andrews was healthy. With Andrews in 12 personnel, Baltimore’s success rate shot up to 52.4%.

That level of success doesn’t even factor in the late-season rise of backup tight end Isaiah Likely. The second-year tight end has come alive in the second half of the season, putting up 316 yards and six touchdowns on 19 catches over the last six weeks. Likely rounds out a loaded new-look Ravens offense that has pushed Lamar Jackson back into the MVP conversation and carried Baltimore to the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Before the receiver room overhaul in 2023 that brought in Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor, and rookie Zay Flowers, Andrews led the Ravens in targets the previous two seasons. Now, the MVP favorite gets his top target back.

“It would mean a lot,” Jackson said at a press conference Wednesday when asked about the potential return of Andrews. “That’s my, like I said, bread and butter. Big bro. It would definitely mean a lot. We already got guys who have stepped up. Like Likely, Bate, OB, Nelly, Charlie — Got all these guys who stepped up. But with Mark and the type of guy he is, the kind of a player he is and what he brings to the table for us, it would definitely mean a lot.”

Kansas City has fared well when going against tight ends this season. They ranked 10th in defensive DVOA during the regular season when covering tight ends, according to FTN Fantasy. However, Bills rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid led Buffalo in receiving yards during the Divisional Round. Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay has also been a limited participant in Chiefs practices this week after sustaining a neck injury against Buffalo.

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