Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Ravens Offensive Profile Last Three Years

2015-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 1st, 1st, 11th
2015-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 25th, 30th, 7th
2015-2017 Play Volume Rank: 5th, 4th, 8th
2015-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 22nd, 24th, 31st
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 2,829 (1st)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 64 (22nd)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Joe Flacco
RB: Alex Collins
WR: Michael Crabtree
WR: John Brown
WR: Willie Snead
TE: Hayden Hurst
LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: Alex Lewis 

C: Matt Skura
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: James Hurst

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Passing Game Outlook

Joe Flacco enters his 11th season on notice after Baltimore’s trade up for Lamar Jackson, and with an again-overhauled receiver corps. Flacco’s yards-per-attempt averages have fallen four straight years (7.2 > 6.8 > 6.4 > 5.7), although he did close out 2017 somewhat strong with a 9:2 TD-to-INT ratio and 253.2-yard average in the final five games after a debilitating preseason back injury. Flacco won’t lose his job before Week 1, but cries for Jackson will grow louder each week if Flacco struggles to move the offense, which he’s struggled to do for the past five years. There is a “light a fire in him” narrative to ponder after Pat Mahomes seemingly lit one last year for Alex Smith, and it’s true Flacco was displeased with the Jackson pick, not even contacting his new competitor until a month-plus after the draft. A top-12 fantasy passer just once in his career with three straight finishes of QB20 or worse, Flacco is a wholly undesirable fantasy commodity with a low floor and ceiling. He’s only worth a last-round flyer in best-ball drafts.

The Ravens traded up for 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson at No. 32 to “develop” behind Flacco, who will be 33 ½ when the season starts and has declined steadily amid back injuries. One of the most dynamic players in NCAA history, Jackson scored 50 rushing TDs in three seasons and improved his completion rate (54.7% > 56.2% > 59.1%) each year at Louisville. In OC Marty Mornhinweg (Michael Vick) and assistant HC Greg Roman (Colin Kaepernick, Tyrod Taylor), the Ravens have multiple minds with experience designing offenses for dual-threat passers. It’s only a matter of time before Jackson gets his shot, and it could come as soon as October if Flacco starts slow. Jackson offers late-round QB3 best-ball appeal and will be an exciting re-draft pickup if the 2018 nod indeed comes.

Michael Crabtree landed a “three-year, $21 million” deal from the Ravens one day after getting cut by the Raiders, who viewed 33-year-old Jordy Nelson as an upgrade on 31-year-old Crabtree. Crabtree is the heavy favorite to lead Baltimore in targets, and most valuably in the red zone, where he converted 13-of-49 (26.5%) targets into TDs compared to Amari Cooper’s 5-of-31 (16.1%) mark in three years with Oakland. Target competitors John Brown (5’10/179) and Willie Snead (5’11/195) are unlikely to command nearly as many scoring-position looks. On sheer volume projection, Crabtree can be an undervalued WR3 if Flacco keeps his job. The Ravens have finished top 11 in pass attempts for three straight years, but that volume would plummet with a dual-threat rookie at QB.


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John Brown settled for a one-year, $5 million “prove-it” deal with Baltimore after following up a 1,000-yard 2015 explosion with consecutive injury-ruined campaigns in Arizona, allegedly worsened by complications from Brown’s sickle-cell trait. When healthy, Brown is a 4.34 burner with an underrated all-around game in the short and intermediate areas. Unfortunately, it’s been multiple years since we last saw peak “Smokey.” Brown is a leap-of-faith late-round flyer whose outlook is almost entirely tied to health. As a multi-year believer in Smokey, I personally have been hammering Brown in the final three rounds of best-ball drafts.

Willie Snead commanded over 100 targets in back-to-back seasons, then fell into Sean Payton’s 2017 doghouse with the Saints after being hit with a three-game suspension for DUI followed by a debilitating hamstring injury that sapped Snead’s receiving effectiveness. A popular early- to middle-round fantasy pick, Snead was a colossal bust with eight catches in 11 games. Snead sat behind Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, and Brandon Coleman, and spent most of his snaps as a blocker for New Orleans’ butt-kicking running game. Snead projects as the Ravens’ new slot receiver between Crabtree and Brown. His value will likely be limited to deep PPR leagues.

Hayden Hurst’s first-round draft status gives him a big edge on Baltimore’s otherwise crowded tight end room, comprised of fellow rookie Mark Andrews, plodding blocker Nick Boyle, and failed 2015 second-rounder Maxx Williams. An ex-minor league baseball player who turns 25 in August, Hurst offers 4.67 speed, a natural pass-catching skill set, and willingness to block, but he scored just three TDs in three years at South Carolina and faces uncertain rookie playing time. If Hurst does carve out a full-time first-year role, he will offer some late-round appeal in deeper PPR drafts. Fellow TEs Dennis Pitta (86) and Ben Watson (61) led Flacco's Ravens in targets in each of the last two years. Third-rounder Andrews reminded me of old Broncos TE Tony Scheffler on tape as a vertical slot tight end whose playing time may be limited by his inability to block. Still, Andrews arguably offers more long-term fantasy upside than Hurst.

Running Game Outlook

Signed off the Ravens’ practice squad just after Week 1, former Seahawks fifth-round pick Alex Collins quickly showed the best running chops in Baltimore’s backfield and took over as feature back at midseason. Collins dominated carries and earned more receiving usage as the year progressed, averaging 19.2 touches per game from Week 8 on and breathing offensive life into a team that went 5-2 after its Week 10 bye with Collins as the chain-moving focal point. Collins' 51% rushing Success Rate ranked eighth among 47 qualified backs at Football Outsiders, ahead of Devonta Freeman, Le'Veon Bell, and Mark Ingram. Physical, versatile, and a consistent run finisher, Collins earned the right to open 2018 as the Ravens’ clear-cut lead runner. Baltimore showed faith in Collins by passing on running backs in the draft and free agency. They return LG Alex Lewis (shoulder) and All-Pro RG Marshal Yanda (ankle) from injuries that cost Baltimore's starting guards a combined 30 games. And the Ravens project to face this year's tenth-softest run-defense slate. Baltimore's rushing attack will offer immense upside should dual-threat Jackson replace statuesque Flacco. Collins is one of my favorite RB2 picks near the third-/fourth-round turn.

No. 2 back duties will come down to jack of many trades/master of none Buck Allen and once-promising fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon, who missed all of 2017 serving six games of PEDs and substance-abuse suspensions while rehabbing a torn meniscus. Allen did stay involved in 2017 as a situational passing-game and goal-line back behind Collins, averaging 9.6 touches per game from Week 8 onward. Whereas volume-dependent pass catchers Crabtree and Snead’s fantasy outlooks would take a hit were Flacco benched for Jackson, Ravens backs would benefit from Jackson’s dual threat to clear alleys.

2018 Vegas Win Total

Baltimore's Win Total opened at 8.0 with -120 odds on the over. The Ravens’ non-division slate consists of the dangerous-but-inconsistent AFC West, powerful NFC South, Titans (away), and Bills (home). The Ravens’ pass-catcher corps was remade in free agency and the draft, and the offensive line may be the shakiest part of the roster. A potential in-season QB controversy looms. One positive indicator is last year’s unfortunate 2-5 record in one-score games, a clip bound to regress to the mean. In the end, I think this is an eight-win team and the Win Total is spot on. I’ll chase the bigger payout with the under.

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

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