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Second-Year Scouting Report: Isaiah Likely

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As the calendar turns to June, there are fewer than 90 days until the start of the 2023 NFL season. We are exactly 82 days away from the Thursday night kickoff matchup between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs.

 

Best ball season is in full swing, and redraft leagues will begin shortly. As more and more fantasy managers begin drafting, this year’s rookies start to gain momentum. As the rookies gain attention, the sophomore class from last season will start to become overshadowed. Taking advantage of the prioritization of rookies over established veterans is a great edge to attack in fantasy drafts, especially when it comes to second-year players. These players often take huge strides during their second NFL season, building on their full season of NFL experience and development. 

We continue our second-year scouting report series today with Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely. He was a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, coming to Baltimore as a very productive player in the Sun Belt Conference for Coastal Carolina. This article will provide an overview of Likely and how you should view him for redraft and dynasty leagues this season.

Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Isaiah Likely was active for 16 of Baltimore’s 17 regular-season games, missing one contest due to an ankle sprain. He was a backup to three-time Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, projected for a minimal rookie year contribution. However, Likely more than took advantage of his limited opportunities, posting huge performances in Weeks 8, 9 and 18. 

At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Likely was a weapon in the middle of the field, operating mostly out of the slot for Baltimore. He ended the year with eight receptions and 103 receiving yards against rival Cincinnati. 

What Went Wrong

Fourth-round rookie tight ends bring low expectations, so it’s hard to view Likely’s season as anything but a success. He certainly was not expected to siphon targets away from Andrews, but could have contributed even more if Lamar Jackson had not missed six games with a PCL sprain. 

Likely produced under a 40% snap share and only produced one TE2 or better stat line in the first seven games of the season. He was also a nonfactor during Weeks 14-16, a critical time for the Ravens and fantasy football players. 

What Went Right

In the two games Mark Andrews missed, Likely was a major factor. He also managed to post a huge Week 8 fantasy stat line with Andrews also active. Over those three contests, he produced a 78% snap share, and posted three overall TE8 or better weeks, including the overall fantasy TE2 in that Week 8 victory over Tampa Bay. 

 If we isolate those two games without Andrews using our FTN Splits Tool, it’s clear to see the impact Likely can make if given the chance. 

While his contributions were limited, Likely certainly showed the Ravens coaching staff he can produced when trusted. 

 

Prognosis Entering 2023

Baltimore made major offensive changes, bringing in Todd Monken as offensive coordinator and adding several receiving weapons to bolster their passing attack. Incumbent Rashod Bateman and veteran free agents Odell Beckham and Nelson Agholor are joined by first-round rookie Zay Flowers on a crowded wide receiver depth chart. Mark Andrews returns for his majority target share with third-year wideout Bateman healed from a Lisfranc injury. Targets will be difficult to earn in this offense. 

However, Likely’s ADP is hovering near the bottom of every draft, providing the opportunity for minimal investment but high upside. Could Monken increase Baltimore 2TE set usage? Possibly, which would put Likely in position for consistent fantasy production throughout the season. NFL analyst Bucky Brooks already mentioned the possibility of a breakout season for Likely

Dynasty Outlook

In dynasty/long-term fantasy leagues, Isaiah Likely is the quintessential “stash and wait” player. The tight end position in fantasy is extremely shallow, and Likely could easily find fantasy relevance this season in Monken’s aerial attack. The presence of the 27-year-old Andrews is certainly a limiting factor, but dynasty leagues often rewards those who are patient. Likely is essential free in best ball drafts at Underdog Fantasy, currently sitting as the TE29 (ADP 206.9). Uncertainty brings opportunity, which is exactly what drafters have with the athletic tight end from Coastal Carolina. If he continues to develop, It’s not difficult to project Likely to find low-end TE2 production as soon as this season. 

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