Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Ravens Fantasy Preview

Friday, June 16, 2017


Ravens Offensive Profile Last Two Years

2015-2016 Pass Attempts Rank: 1st, 1st
2015-2016 Rush Attempts Rank: 25th, 30th
2015-2016 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 5th, 4th
2015-2016 Yards Per Play Rank: 22nd, 24th
Unaccounted for Targets from 2016 (Rank): 345 (1st)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2016 (Rank): 58 (14th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Joe Flacco
RB: Terrance West
WR: Jeremy Maclin
WR: Mike Wallace
WR: Breshad Perriman
TE: Ben Watson
LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: Alex Lewis
C: Ryan Jensen
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: James Hurst

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Passing Game Outlook

A top-12 fantasy passer in just 1-of-9 NFL seasons with 6-of-9 finishes outside the top 15, Joe Flacco is firmly established as an underwhelming box-score producer best suited to two-quarterback leagues and desperation streams in best-case-scenario matchups. Even as his volume and completion rates have risen in higher-percentage systems in recent years, Flacco has shown a low ceiling as the engineer of consistently low-scoring offenses. Flacco maintains deep-league value based on his affordable price and a handful of factors working in his 2017 favor. The Ravens have led the NFL in pass attempts in back-to-back years and seem likely to lean on the pass again due to sub-par running-game talent. Flacco’s 2016 TD rate (3.0%) was a full percentage point below his previous career average, making him a positive-regression candidate a full year removed from 2015 ACL/MCL surgery. The Ravens moved on from extremely-inefficient Dennis Pitta and added Jeremy Maclin, whom data analyst Kevin Cole has shown to be an offensive elevator in yards per pass attempt. Flacco’s ADP is QB23, just ahead of Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, and rookie Deshaun Watson. Flacco is a poor target in start-one-quarterback leagues, but he offers best-ball and two-quarterback-league appeal with job security and minimal required investment.

I’m willing to give Jeremy Maclin a pass for his slow 2016 campaign, which began with the death of his best friend and closed with a groin injury that cost him the better part of five games and limited Maclin’s effectiveness from his Week 14 return onward. Maclin turned 29 just one month ago and was a top-15 PPR receiver the year before with career highs in receptions (87) and catch rate (70.2%) and a No. 15 finish among 85 qualified wideouts in PFF’s predictive yards-per-route-run metric. I think Maclin’s Chiefs release was primarily salary-cap driven, and that the Ravens got a steal by signing Maclin to the exact same deal Markus Wheaton got from the Bears. In Baltimore, I expect Maclin to replace Steve Smith Sr.’s lead receiver role with a 40-50% slot-route rate between field stretchers Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. The Ravens are missing the most targets in the NFL from last year’s roster, and Maclin’s familiarity with OC Marty Mornhinweg from Philadelphia should ensure a seamless transition. A double-digit-round pick early in the offseason, Maclin now warrants consideration as early as the seventh round.

Although Mike Wallace’s outlook took a hit with the Maclin signing, it wasn’t quite to the extent that Wallace will completely fade from relevance. A top-30 fantasy receiver in 7-of-8 seasons since entering the pros, Wallace ranked a respectable 35th among 96 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus’ 2016 yards per route run, registered a superior passer rating (96.8) on throws from Flacco than Smith (91.9), Pitta (81.6), and Perriman (67.1), and averaged a robust 8.77 yards per target, Wallace’s highest rate since 2011 in Pittsburgh. Wallace turns 31 in August and only has downside from here on out, but last year’s performance suggests he can still play. He’s well worth his WR44 (MFL10s) and WR46 (FF Calc) ADPs.

While Breshad Perriman was an ineffective 2016 performer by every objective measure, his “second” season could be considered a success purely on the basis that Perriman stayed healthy after repeated PCL setbacks wiped out his rookie campaign. Perriman played in all 16 games, logged 43% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps, and nearly reached 500 yards (499) in his first full season of NFL action. (It was the sort of step forward we should be hoping Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, and Kevin White make this year.) A 2015 first-round pick out of Central Florida with an absurd combination of size (6’2/212) and straight-line speed (4.26), Perriman didn’t play nearly as fast as pre-draft stopwatches suggest, but he could get there with route-running advancement. All spring reports on Perriman’s practice play were glowing, including hearty praise from Joe Flacco. Since the Maclin signing, Perriman has gone from a popular single-digit-round pick to someone who frequently falls to the 13th-15th rounds. With overcorrection in full effect, this looks like a time to buy.

Ravens tight ends have a top-two schedule based on 2016 fantasy points allowed, so the competition to replace Pitta is worth monitoring. Ben Watson tore his Achilles’ last preseason and turns 37 later this year, but he is the early favorite after accepting a huge pay cut that significantly increases Watson’s 53-man roster odds. The Ravens had high hopes for Watson entering last season, signing him to a two-year, $8 million contract after Watson registered top-eight tight end results the season before in New Orleans. Maxx Williams is a mere end-of-roster Dynasty stash after struggling mightily as a 2015 rookie, then essentially missing all of 2016 with a knee injury that required surgery “no player has ever before had,” according to the Ravens. Nick Boyle has been talked up by beat writers, but he runs a 5.00-5.04 forty and averaged under 10.0 yards per reception in his Division 1-AA career at Delaware. Boyle served a ten-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs last year. Converted Georgia Tech wideout Darren Waller and injury-riddled in-line tight end Crockett Gillmore round out this quantity-over-quality group.

Running Game Outlook

Terrance West shed 15 pounds last spring and parlayed a strong camp/preseason into the Ravens’ lead running back job, starting 13-of-16 games and posting career bests across the board as the lead part of Baltimore’s committee. Even in his best year, however, West revealed himself as a sub-replacement-level runner with the lowest Rushing Net Expected Points rating (NumberFire) among Ravens backs, pass blocking poorly according to Pro Football Focus’ grades, and sharing time with Justin Forsett, then Kenneth Dixon. Dixon’s four-game suspension to begin 2017 opens the door for West to maintain early-down work, but his ceiling is an RBBC member in a poor offense behind a Ravens line that struggled mightily in 2016 run blocking, then lost RT Rick Wagner (Lions) and C Jeremy Zuttah (49ers). Because West is such an unsexy fantasy investment, it’s no surprise that his ADPs of RB47 (MFL10s) and RB49 (Fantasy Football Calculator) are basement low. Still, West is on track to be a viable low-end RB2/flex option in the first four weeks (at Cincinnati, vs. Cleveland, vs. Jacksonville, and vs. Pittsburgh).

Danny Woodhead tore his right ACL last Week 2, losing almost an entire season for the second time in three years. He missed all but three games in 2014 with a broken right fibula. Woodhead did play all 16 games in each of the 2015, 2013, and 2012 seasons, finishing as the PPR RB3, RB12, and RB23, respectively. Signed to a three-year, $8.8 million contract by the Ravens, Woodhead practiced without limitations at OTAs/minicamp and has a chance to earn a major passing-game role on a team that seems likely to struggle running the ball and has a league-high 345 available targets from last year. Most notably gone are TE Dennis Pitta (hip) and FB Kyle Juszczyk (49ers), who vacated 123 combined receptions in high-percentage dump-off roles for which Woodhead is now ticketed. Woodhead is 32 years old with a concerning injury history, but he offers PPR-monster potential if his health cooperates. I think Woodhead is a value pick at his RB29 (MFL10s) and RB30 (FF Calculator) Average Draft Positions.

Kenneth Dixon will open 2017 serving a four-game ban for PEDs after a solid rookie season in which the fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech missed the first month with a torn MCL, but averaged 4.92 yards per carry and 3.13 receptions per game over the final eight weeks, earning a near-even timeshare with West down the stretch. Dixon offered legitimate breakout potential before the suspension and signing of Woodhead, whose presence will severely curb Dixon’s passing-game usage when he returns. Even at Dixon’s conservative RB39 (MFL10s) and RB41 (FF Calc) ADPs, I have a difficult time pulling the trigger.

2017 Vegas Win Total

The Ravens’ Win Total is 9.0 with a lean toward the under (-125). Baltimore has failed to win more than eight games in three of the last four seasons and will again field one of the NFL’s least-talented offenses with major concerns on the line and at every skill position. Every other AFC North team looks improved from last year, while Baltimore’s schedule consists of the NFC North, AFC South, at Oakland, and versus Miami. Last year’s Ravens did underachieve slightly, finishing 8-8 with a Pythagorean Win Expectation of 8.6-8.8. Still, I envision this as another year of mediocrity in Baltimore, fighting for the AFC’s final Wild Card spot in a best-case scenario but ultimately managing 7-8 victories.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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