After some late season buzz they would release him, the Oakland Raiders followed through and swapped Michael Crabtree out for Jordy Nelson last week. But Crabtree landed elsewhere quickly, signing a three-year, $21 deal with the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens had a clear need at wide receiver, made a little greater by cutting Jeremy Maclin. They’ve also signed former Arizona Cardinal John Brown, but Crabtree is clearly in line to be Joe Flacco’s No. 1 target.
Crabtree had a down year for the Raiders last year, with 58 receptions (on 101 targets) for 618 yards in 14 games. But he had eight touchdowns, to boost him to WR30 in ESPN PPR scoring last year. In 2016 (89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns), Crabtree was WR11 in ESPN PPR scoring. He was also a top-20 fantasy wide receiver in 2015, his first year with the Raiders (85 catches for 922 yards and nine touchdowns).
Crabtree’s red zone target total dropped by one-third in 2017 (14), compared to 2016 (21) with six red zone touchdowns. Five of his eight touchdowns last year came from two yards out or less, on a total of seven targets inside the 5-yard line. But last year’s red zone target total was a regression back to 2015, when Crabtree had 13 red zone targets and just two red zone touchdowns.
Based on those three years of red zone target and red zone touchdown data, projections for Crabtree in those areas for 2018 should be set somewhere in the middle of it.
Crabtree’s overall target volume should easily rebound back toward 2015 (146) and 2016 (145) this year. Based on that alone he’ll be worth targeting as a WR2 in PPR leagues, and as a WR2/WR3 in standard scoring leagues.
Michael Crabtree 2018 Projection: 82 receptions for 910 yards, 7 TDs (130 targets)