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2017 Fantasy Football Preview: Baltimore Ravens

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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2016 Fantasy Recap

The Baltimore Ravens were the definition of average last year. The finished with and eight and eight record and 17th most total offensive yards. Even their players were pretty average last season. Joe Flacco‘s play at quarterback was pretty average only throwing for 20 touchdowns while throwing 15 picks, finishing as a high QB2. Terrance West finished as their best running back and outside of a couple of weeks, was barely a flex play most of the season. Mike Wallace was the teams best wide receiver who did top 1,000 yards, but was only enough to make him a WR3 or flex play all year. At tight end Dennis Pitta was their best pass catcher with 86 receptions, but being held to two touchdowns kept him in the lower of half of TE1 rankings. The defense was solid but down from its usual dominance too. The year ended with Steve Smith retiring and a bunch of guys leaving via free agency. Then in the spring Dennis Pitta hurt his hip yet again and was released.

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Key Additions and Losses

Additions:

Losses:

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Quarterback Fantasy Outlook

The local team to where I like is the Ravens and over the years I have been pretty hard on Joe Flacco, and as a result I have gotten my share of dirty looks and hurt feelings from my friends. But most of the time I believe I have been correct in my criticism. Typically Flacco has been a low QB2 to not even worth rostering. This year however I think Joe has a great opportunity to be a high QB2. I think this maybe the best supporting cast he has had since their last Super Bowl appearance. Now slow down I am not saying the are heading to the Super Bowl, but this could be a good offensive year for Flacco and the Ravens. In fact I think he sets career highs this year in yards and touchdowns. I see Flacco throwing for over 4,500 yards and around 30 touchdowns this year on his way to a high QB2 ranking. Making him a must own in 2QB leagues or a top option as a bye week replacement in 1QB leagues.

Grade: B+

Running Back Fantasy Outlook

Last season the Ravens were one of the worst teams running the ball. The teams leading rusher was Terrance West but he could only muster 193/774/5, which barely made him a flex play. West will get to start the season as the Ravens lead back for at least four weeks due to Kenneth Dixon‘s four game suspension. How long he starts after those four games will remain to be seen. I think Dixon will eventually take over the lead role, but he will have to earn his way to point and it could take half the season for that to happen. As a result neither guy will hold much value unless one can manage to take a lead back role. Throw in the addition of Danny Woodhead, and now you have even a more crowded backfield. I am not sold Woodhead can return to what he was, but early on he will fill in nicely for Dixon until he get back. Bottom line after week four the Ravens backfield will be a mess and until either West or Dixon wins it out right, my money is on Dixon, there won’t be much worth owning here. If you have room to stash Dixon that is who I would pick and hope he wins the job by fantasy playoffs. Overall in redraft leagues I am avoiding the Ravens backfield and in dynasty I am only targeting Dixon.

Grade: B-

Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook

This is the area that I think the Ravens are most improved in. The addition of Jeremy Maclin I think was one of the best off season moves by any team. Maclin should come right in and take over Steve Smith’s old role. Currently his ADP has him being taken sometime around the either or ninth round, which is an absolute steal for a guy that can easily put up 85/1100/8. Can you imagine getting a wide receiver that finished as a low WR1 or high WR2 in the either round? If you get the the sixth or seventh round and Maclin is sitting there I would not hesitate to pull the trigger on drafting him for fear of missing out on him. The Ravens also have Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman returning this season. Last season Wallace managed to go over 1,000 yards on 72 receptions and I would not surprised if he reaches similar numbers again this year. Though I think he regress a little bit, but it should be close. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 65/950/4 keeping Wallace in the solid flex play range. Perriman was supposed to take a big step forward this, but with the addition of Maclin I think that gets delayed a little. I do still expect improvement, just not as much as I did before Maclin was signed. Perriman should catch around 55 balls for 850 yards and five or so touchdowns, making him a borderline flex play and bye week filler. No other receiver is worth drafting on the Ravens, but with three good options no one will be complaining.

Grade: B+

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

The weakness in this offense appears to be the tight end position. Dennis Pitta had a great season last year and was prepared to follow it up this year. But then he hurt is hip yet again essentially ending his career. So that leaves the Ravens with Crockett Gillmore, Benjamin Watson, and Maxx Williams. I think the Ravens were hoping Williams would be the guy to replaces Pitta, but he has not worked out at all. Benjamin Watson is coming off a torn Achilles, which cost him all of last year, and at age 36 I am not expecting him to be the top guy. Most likely it will be Crockett Gillmore. In 2015 Gillmore looked like a promising young tight end. 2016 did not go his was, but now with Pitta out of the picture Gillmore has a shot at becoming the Ravens top tight end. For fantasy owners though, unless one tight end becomes the one one only one, all should be fairly useless for the season. I know Flacco loves his tight ends, but if one does not become a clear winner, I am not not sure any are worth rostering.

Grade: C-

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Defensive Fantasy Outlook

Last year the Ravens were a solid defense. The finished in the range of 10 – 14 depending on your scoring system. My concern is they lost a few of their key players this past off season. I still expect the Ravens to be a solid defense, but they might not do as well as we are used to. They should still be a viable steaming defense, but I do not think I would invest a pick in them. If they happen to be available when my last pick roles around and I feel good about the skill positions I drafted I would consider them, but I am not going out of my way to get them.

Grade: B+

Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.


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I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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