Key & Diagnose
There are a few things that I look for when trying to identify breakout fantasy players. Youth, talent, and an increased role. Second year players with high draft capital usually experience an increase in playing time and production. These players have had a year to adjust to the NFL, and their teams feel more confident playing them in major roles. A player that fits this model is Baltimore Ravens Edge Rusher Odafe Oweh.
Oweh played 3 collegiate seasons at the University of Penn State. He recorded 63 combined tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. He earned 1st team All-Big 10 honors after the 2020 season despite failing to record any sacks. It’s important to note that Oweh only played in 7 games that year due to the Covid shortened season in the Big 10 Conference. Although the sack production didn’t show up in the box score, his speed and disruptiveness did show up on film. Oweh wowed scouts after an impressive Pro Day workout. At 6’5” and 250 lbs he ran an astonishing 4.36 40 yard dash. The Ravens selected Oweh with the 31st pick in the 1st round.
Oweh immediately earned a rotational role behind starters Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston. He also made an immediate impact by recording 2 solo tackles, 1 sack, and 2 QB hits in week 1 against the Raiders. Oweh then followed that up by winning AFC Defensive Player of the week honors in week 2 against the Chiefs. He made the game winning play by stripping the ball away from RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recovering the fumble late in the 4th quarter.
Oweh had an impressive start to the season recording 3 sacks in his first 5 games. At the time he was outperforming and out-snapping veteran Edge Rushers Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston. However, he slowed down in the 2nd half of the season only posting 2 sacks in his last 10 games. He missed the last two games of the season due to a foot injury. His best fantasy week came in week 10 against the Miami Dolphins. Oweh had 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack, as he finished as an LB2 in balanced scoring formats.
In his rookie season, Oweh tallied 33 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. His 5 sacks were second on the team behind Tyus Bowser. Oweh also was credited with 27 pressures on the season, which was a team high. He played 15 games with 2 starts while playing on 65% of the team’s defensive snaps. His contributions earned him PFF All-Rookie Team honors. That’s a solid season for a player who didn’t even play organized football until his junior season in high school.
The Ravens are expecting a huge 2nd year leap from Oweh next season. He should operate as the team’s primary Edge Rusher. The Ravens chose not to re-sign aging and unproductive veterans Justin Houston(32) and Pernell McPhee(33). Houston and McPhee accounted for only 5.5 sacks last season. This was a big reason why the Ravens only had 34 sacks last season, which placed them in the bottom half of the league. The team is looking to restock their Edge Rushing depth with younger players, likely through the NFL Draft. As it stands now, Oweh is projected to start across from last season’s sack leader Tyus Bowser. Bowser tore his Achilles during the last game of the season but is expected back by training camp.
At the Ravens end of the season press conference, GM Eric DeCosta said that the team is very excited about Oweh. DeCosta advised that Oweh has a bright future and they are expecting a lot more from him next season. Oweh should perform at a higher level considering that he played with a shoulder injury all of last season. He had off-season surgery to repair the shoulder that he reportedly injured dating back to college.
Oweh’s unique size and speed give him the potential to be one of the best Pass Rushers in the league. He’s a matchup nightmare for opposing Offensive Linemen. His speed really jumps out on film as he can beat his man and get to the QB in a heartbeat. However, Oweh struggled with consistency last season. According to beat reports, he’s an athletically gifted player that needs to refine his pass rushing technique. A full off-season without any Covid restrictions should benefit him this year.
The 2022 outlook for Oweh is looking very promising. His ceiling is a top 5 Edge Rusher in the league. However, position designation is a huge factor for IDP Fantasy gamers looking to roster Oweh. The Ravens run a 3-4 defensive scheme and Oweh is regarded as an Outside Linebacker. He isn’t as appealing in tackle heavy and balanced scoring leagues that don’t have an Edge designation.
Edge Rushers are more boom or bust than traditional off the ball Linebackers. For context, only 3 Edge Rushing LBs finished in the top 24 in IDP balanced scoring formats last season. Those players were T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons, and Robert Quinn. Oweh is a much safer pick in Big Play scoring formats that reward an unbalanced number of points for sacks. Nonetheless, his floor should be a high end DL2 as an Edge designation. You can downgrade him to a LB3 in balanced scoring leagues without an Edge designation. Don’t forget about Odafe Oweh in your IDP Fantasy Football Drafts!