3-Point Stance: Ravens’ additions may have sleeper appeal
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Monday’s topic: The Baltimore Ravens.
RECEIVER RANK: With the first name ranked being “Aw, yeah!” and the last being “that’s a pass,” how would you rank Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and Breshard Perriman? Explain your thought process.
Liz – MACLIN, PERRIMAN, WALLACE. Give me the slotman. Last season, Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken combined for over 10 targets per game. Together they also lined up in the slot nearly 50 percent of the time. Their absence opens up a massive opportunity for Maclin, who dominated the slot during his time in Kansas City.
Boasting overlapping skill sets, Wallace and Perriman are field stretchers that’ll bracket the outside. My apologies if you didn’t bite on Wallace when I advised last summer. He’s old news now. Short-sighted managers chasing TDs are driving his price up. Perriman, on the other hand, is the future. A former first-round pick, the Ravens are dedicated to the speedster’s breakout. Finally healthy, the youngster has reportedly been getting the reps he needs and turning heads in the process. A better value with more upside, he’s got the edge over Wallace.
Brad – MACLIN, PERRIMAN, WALLACE. Last year, the veteran wide receiver most certainly lied to me. But a “Return of the Mac” could be in order this fall. Yes, Mark Morrison fans, it’s a distinct possibility. Expected to man the slot, the KC castoff should lead the team in targets, likely netting 18-19 percent (120-125 looks) of the Ravens share. Build a bond with Flacco and he lands in the WR30-WR33 range. Watch him flow.
Elsewhere, Perriman and Wallace, who will man the wings, are practically interchangeable. However, I’m throwing support behind the former Round 1 pick. Talked up by local beat writers entering last year, Perriman is finally healthy and ready to contribute meaningful numbers. The heavily discounted receiver (112.6 ADP, WR50), who opened eyes in OTAs, has significant shocker special appeal. An injury to Wallace or Maclin occurs and he really takes flight. Remember some scouts prior to the 2015 NFL Draft compared his size/speed attributes to Andre Johnson and Josh Gordon.
Brad – DIXON. This fantasy bullhorn loves Dixon like Jeff Bezos loves conquering the world. My affections for the sophomore rusher, whether expressed in traditional text or on social media, are well documented. He’s cagey, versatile, capable of handling a strenuous workload and deceptively powerful. His spectacular leg churn often witnessed last year offered visible proof. Equally dynamite statistically – he ranked No. 7 in juke rate and No. 10 in yards after contact per touch – he possesses the tools to thrive over multiple seasons.
His four-game wrist slap to begin the season is responsible for driving his draft price down (113.6 ADP, RB39). Hopefully it will only slip further. Terrance West has an opportunity to gain an advantage early and Danny Woodhead is a thorn (And a tremendous PPR asset who should tally 50-plus catches), but it’s only a matter of time before Dixon becomes the preferred early-down and goal-line option. He’s too damn talented not to eventually deliver occasional RB2 lines. Stash.
Liz – WOODHEAD. A hybrid player who notched 80 catches in 2015, Woodhead figures to have a prominent role in the Ravens offense while subbing in for Dixon (who will be serving a PED suspension for the first four weeks of the season). Last year, Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Dennis Pitta, and Kyle Juszczyk combined for 306 targets. With all four of those payers missing from the 2017 receiving corps, Woodhead will continue to receive opportunities even after Dixon returns (assuming the vet hasn’t absconded with the starting gig). In fact, it’s entirely likely that Woodhead could lead all pass-catchers in looks.
Last year, Baltimore’s trio of backs (Dixon, West, and Juszczyk) were targeted 122 times in the passing game. Even after pass-happy Marc Trestman was fired, Marty Mornhinweg continued to utilize the Ravens backfield via the air. In fact, the trio averaged 1.25 more targets per game from Weeks 5 through 17 under “Air Marty.” The circumstances are clearly favorable for Woodhead, especially in PPR formats. I’m conservatively forecasting 85 carries for 335 yards and 2 scores on the ground as well as 60 grabs for 550 yards and 5 scores through the air for the former Charger. Those are low-end RB2 numbers, making Woodhead a considerable value given his current ADP.
Each year Joe Flacco does his best redefine “elite.” Heading into his tenth year in the league, OVER/UNDER 22.5 passing scores for the Ravens signal caller?
Liz – UNDER. Years ago it was Flacco’s post-season prowess that would hang in the summer air and drive false hope heading into the fall. But Baltimore hasn’t seen a Week 18 since 2014 so I’m a bit confused by the current excitement. Perhaps it’s the presence of two big-play guys like Wallace and Perriman. Or maybe it’s a reluctance to buy into the next generation of signal callers. Whatever the reason, it’s completely off base.
Flacco may be elite in his agent’s eyes, but he’s not a fantasy stud. After nine seasons in the league, the former Blue Hen has passed for more than 22 TDs twice. Of those two seasons (2010 and 2014) he’s only managed ONE top-ten fantasy finish. Flacco has showed up who he is. Let’s believe him.
Brad – UNDER. Strip the bark off the nearest tree, boil it and consume. The resulting taste, or lack thereof, is Flacco. If he’s elite, yours truly is the greatest lover in history. People who tell you otherwise are ignorant boobs. He finished inside the QB top-12 ONCE since entering the league in 2008. Equally unattractive, he only surpassed 7.0 yards per attempt in a season twice since 2011. His surrounding arsenal is appealing, but banking on him topping the proposed number is an exercise in futility. Count on him as a QB1 in deeper leagues and you’ll sport a Kim Jong Un romper at next year’s draft. Mark me down for 4,100 yards and 21 TDs.