Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

print article archives RSS

Ravens Fantasy Preview

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Ravens Year in Review

2015 Pass Attempts Rank: 1st (676)
2015 Rush Attempts Rank: 25th (383)
2015 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 5th (1,083)
2015 Yards Per Play Rank: 22nd (5.3)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Joe Flacco
RB: Justin Forsett
WR: Steve Smith Sr.
WR: Mike Wallace
WR: Kamar Aiken
TE: Ben Watson
LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: John Urschel
C: Jeremy Zuttah
RG: Marshal Yanda
RT: Rick Wagner

Passing Game Outlook

Before tearing his left ACL and MCL in Week 11 last season, Joe Flacco was on pace to shatter his career highs in attempts (661), completion rate (64.4%), and yards (4,466) in his first year under OC Marc Trestman. The 2015 Ravens finished with the eighth most pass attempts in NFL history. The volume spike can be partially attributed to negative game flow, as Baltimore posted its worst record (5-11) since 2007 and allowed the ninth most points in the league. Although those statistics should creep toward the mean this year, Trestman's pass-heavy leanings and a declining defense return. In 14 years as an NFL offensive overseer, Trestman's attacks have never finished in the bottom half of the league in pass attempts and have ranked top ten nine times. With a revamped pass-catcher corps and his Average Draft Position in the 15th and 16th rounds, Flacco is an interesting flier pick. On the flip side, Flacco has only finished one of his eight NFL seasons as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. I do think Flacco is a worthy low-cost investment in best-ball leagues and should be a useful streamer in favorable matchups.

Just like the year before when he ranked fourth in wide receiver scoring through six weeks (but WR48 the rest of the way), Steve Smith Sr. came out roaring in the first half of 2015, posting a 16-game pace line of 105-1,531-7 before tearing his right Achilles' in Week 8. While Smith was busy rehabbing and turning 37, the Ravens were collecting pass catchers, landing Ben Watson and Mike Wallace, drafting Chris Moore in the fourth round, re-signing Kamar Aiken, and returning Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and perhaps Dennis Pitta. The normal Rules and Regulations don't always apply to "89," but Smith Sr. isn't a player on whom I'm willing to sink single-digit-round draft capital considering his age and injury. He becomes a more interesting in the 12th to 14th rounds.

Kamar Aiken ran ahead of Perriman throughout last spring and capitalized following injuries to Smith, Perriman, and Campanaro. Despite catching passes from Ryan Mallett, Matt Schaub, and Jimmy Clausen for the final month and a half, Aiken became a weekly under-owned DFS hero with 50 catches for 611 yards and three touchdowns in the eight games after Smith's Achilles' tear. Undrafted out of Central Florida in 2011, Aiken auditioned as a special teams gunner for three different NFL teams before finally getting a shot to play on offense last year. Quietly a terrific athlete, Aiken ran 4.45 with an explosive 10-foot-8 broad jump at the Golden Knights' 2011 Pro Day. With so many moving parts around him, an argument can be made that Aiken has the most secure role in the Ravens' pass-catcher corps as a versatile wideout capable of playing all three receiver positions and manning the slot between some combination of Smith, Perriman, and Wallace on the perimeter. Although the public's focus remains on Baltimore's flashier, bigger-name receivers, Aiken stands a realistic chance of leading the team in targets and receptions again.

Mike Wallace has been written off following disappointing stints in Miami and Minnesota, where Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater dealt with swinging-gate pass protection and ranked 23rd and 23rd in PFF's Deep Passing metric the past two years. Flacco finished No. 6 in Deep Passing in his last full season. Wallace, of course, is a straight-line deep threat whose game lacks nuance and requires on-target deep shots to make plays. With the way he's presently perceived, you'd never know Wallace has finished as a top-30 fantasy wideout in six of his first seven NFL seasons. Signed to a two-year, $11.5 million deal by shrewd GM Ozzie Newsome, Wallace is getting the first crack at Baltimore's vertical receiver role with Perriman back on the shelf. Very much like Aiken, Wallace has a chance to be a relative steal at his 12th-/14th-round ADP. Although consistency may be too elusive for Wallace to pay re-draft dividends, the player once known as "60 Minutes" is perfectly suited for best-ball drafts.

2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman has endured a worst-case-scenario beginning to his NFL career. Not only did he miss his entire rookie campaign with recurring PCL injuries that eventually required surgery, Perriman admitted to falling into a "dark hole" in which he "shut everyone out" following the tragic passing of close friend Ravens CB Tray Walker and his father Brett's life-threatening stroke. Finally, seemingly, fully healed, Perriman suffered a partial ACL tear at OTAs. Although Perriman avoided a year-ending knee reconstruction, he has now suffered three knee injuries in a 14-month span and is back rehabbing following arthroscopic surgery. Even before the latest setback, the Ravens gave off indications they would view any 2016 Perriman contributions as a bonus by adding Wallace and fourth-round pick Chris Moore, who both have similar tactical value as perimeter field stretchers. I absolutely loved Perriman's upside coming out of college. Just one year later, he's a long-shot fantasy stash.

With in-line TE Crockett Gillmore (back, shoulder) rehabbing and 2015 second-round pick Maxx Williams coming off a sluggish rookie campaign (32-268-1), Newsome addressed tight end with Ben Watson on a two-year, $7 million deal. Although his production in New Orleans (74-825-6) looks like an extreme outlier amongst the remainder of his 12-year career, Watson has long been an elite athlete for the position -- the Patriots drafted him in the first round in 2004 -- and Watson's pass-heavy landing spot may very well lead to continued fantasy goodness. Not only is team pass volume working in Watson's favor, he is the most obvious candidate for red-zone work in Baltimore's pass-catcher corps, where 6-foot-1 Aiken is the second tallest member. Watson stands nearly 6-foot-4. After Watson led the Saints in red-zone targets (16) and touchdowns last season, it shouldn't be surprising if he commands similar scoring opportunity in Baltimore. Late-round tight end drafters should keep Watson's name in mind.

Running Game Outlook

Justin Forsett spent the first ten games of 2015 as Baltimore's lead back, averaging a serviceable 4.25 yards per carry but struggling mightily in the passing game and accounting for just two TDs on 182 all-purpose touches. Forsett averaged under six yards per reception for the third straight season and got blown up in pass protection, permitting three sacks according to PFF's charts. Forsett was the PPR RB24 when a fractured forearm ended his season in Week 11. Buck Allen took over and outplayed Forsett from a fantasy standpoint, posting top-three PPR running back numbers the rest of the way. A replacement-level journeyman scatback on his fifth NFL team, Forsett is owed $3 million and turns 31 in October. Coach John Harbaugh has publicly stated Forsett's roster spot is safe, although that was before Kenneth Dixon fell into the Ravens' lap in the fourth round. At best, Forsett will be part of a multi-headed RBBC with scant involvement in scoring position and a passing-game role that should be scaled back significantly. Even in the late rounds, I've found it difficult to get excited about Forsett as a fantasy pick this season.

After a brutal preseason (2.51 YPC), Buck Allen opened his rookie year as the Ravens' No. 3 back behind Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro. Injuries to Forsett (arm) and Taliaferro (foot) thrust Allen into Baltimore's feature back job beginning in Week 11 and he averaged 18.9 touches over the final seven games, catching four or more passes in all but one of them. Although Allen "runs small" for his size (6'1/221) and is mediocre between the tackles, he mostly held his own as a pass blocker in the starting role and is a passing-game weapon, which fits Trestman's preferred style of play. Strictly as a runner, Allen was more effective on limited usage, averaging 4.33 yards per carry off the bench in the first nine games compared to 3.49 YPC in his seven-game bellcow stint. Allen is still expected to get a shot to earn lead back duties in training camp. Even in a muddy Ravens backfield, Allen is very much flier worthy at his 11th-/14th-round ADP.

Fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon had to contend with abysmal line play at Louisiana Tech, yet still finished his college career ranked second in FBS history in all-purpose TDs (87), averaged 5.59 yards per carry, and caught 88 passes. Dixon is an above-average athlete with 4.56 speed at 5-foot-10, 215 and starred as both an inside runner and passing-game asset for the Bulldogs. Dixon has elicited comparisons ranging from Fred Jackson to Doug Martin. His ADP is all over the map; I've seen Dixon go in the tenth round in some drafts and undrafted in others. He will compete with Forsett and Allen for the Ravens' starting job and arguably has the best all-around skill set of the bunch. Baltimore's tailback depth chart should be wide open entering camp.

2016 Vegas Win Total

A playoff team in six of the previous seven years, the Ravens were hammered by 2015 injuries and the bottom fell out early in their season. Baltimore's Win Total this year is 7.5. They are currently favored in only six of their opening 15 games. Working in the Ravens' favor is a non-division slate made up the beatable NFC East, AFC East, Jacksonville, and Oakland. While I usually take an upbeat view on teams with histories of excellence entering bounce-back spots, I'm not as sure about this year's Ravens. There are a host of moving parts and new faces on both sides of the ball, and the defense has aged and lacks bankable pass rush. There are some reasons to be optimistic about Baltimore's offense, and other reasons for skepticism. All in all, my sense is the Ravens have slipped into a state of multi-year mediocrity. Still, Baltimore's schedule is favorable enough that I think Harbaugh's team can push for eight or nine wins. I'm taking the over, but do not believe the Ravens will resume competing for the AFC North crown.



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



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Waivers: Perine a must-add

    Waivers: Perine a must-add
  •  
    Dose: Wilson breaks loose

    Dose: Wilson breaks loose
  •  
    Dose: Allen explodes vs. Bills

    Dose: Allen explodes vs. Bills
  •  
    Dose: Brown lights up Titans

    Dose: Brown lights up Titans
  •  
    Silva: Week 11 Matchups

    Silva: Week 11 Matchups
  •  
    Dose: Bills to Start Peterman

    Dose: Bills to Start Peterman
  •  
    Matchups: Burkhead vs. Raiders

    Matchups: Burkhead vs. Raiders
  •  
    Waivers: Davis

    Waivers: Davis' Time to Shine