|By Shawn Childs, Friday, August 25, 2017|
After a great five year run from 2008 to 2012 where the Ravens made the playoffs in all five seasons, capped off by a Super Bowl title in 2012, Baltimore has missed the playoffs in three of the last four years. In each of their failed seasons over this period, they struggled to score points (2013 – 320, 2015 – 328, and 2016 – 343). John Harbaugh returns for his 10th season as head coach for the Ravens. He has an 85-59 record with six playoff berths and one Super Bowl title. Marty Mornhinweg took over the offensive coordinator job mid-season in 2016. He's held a similar position in the NFL with the 49ers, Eagles, and Jets. His one chance at being a head coach led to a 5-27 record in 2001 and 2002 with the Detroit Lions. Over the last three seasons, Baltimore finished 6th, 24th, and 8th in points allowed while being consistent in yards allowed (8th, 8th, and 7th) during this span. Dean Peas has been the Ravens' defensive coordinator since 2012 while being an essential part of their 2012 Super Bowl victory. His best success running the defense for Baltimore came in 2014 (6th in points allowed and 8th in yards allowed). Pees has 12 years of NFL coaching experience.
The best player added in the offseason was S Tony Jefferson who offered plus value for his position in 2016 with the Cardinals. CB Brandon Carr will take over at one of the CB positions after being a neutral player at his position with the Cowboys. The Ravens are hoping to get another production season out of Danny Woodhead in the passing game.
WR Steve Smith retired while WR Kamar Aiken was sent packing. They lost three players from their offensive line. C Jeremy Zuttah was traded to San Fran after a successful career in all areas for the Ravens. Their best offensive lineman (Ricky Wagner) in 2016 signed with the Lions. Ricky struggled through some injuries over the previous two seasons. G Vladimir Ducasse struggled in 2016, so a move to the Bills won't be a huge factor.
DT Timmy Jernigan was traded to the Eagles. Over his first three years in the league, Timmy has 13 sacks while playing well in run support. DE Lawrence Guy signed with the Patriots after being a neutral rotational player in 2016. CB Jerraud Powers, CB Shareece Wright, and DE Elvis Dumervil were released after playing poorly last year.
Baltimore is all about improving their offensive line and defense in the 2017 draft. They selected G Nico Siragusa and G Jermaine Eluemunor in the 4th and 5th round. Nico has a nice combination of strength and athletic ability with some short area quickness for his size. Siragusa looks to have a limited blocking window while needing to add more fight to his game at the point of attack. Eluemunor has plus strength with enough quickness to defend outside his range in pass protection. His motor and endurance grades well, but his attacking style can work against him at the time. Jermaine needs to focus on controlling his small piece of real estate on the field rather than making a false move by attacking his opponent.
In the first round, Baltimore took CB Marlon Humphrey. He has plus speed and quickness, but he relies on this edge too much when beaten early in the pass pattern. Marlon will need to Improve his technique in route coverage in the pros where his mistakes will lead to big plays. Humphrey does physical while offering value in press coverage. Great athletic player with high upside with plenty of work to do.
With their second pick, the Ravens invested in LB Tyus Bowser who posted multiple wins in the skills competition at the 2017 NFL combine. Tyus has an attacking style that relies more on his ability than his technique. Bowser needs to improve his overall game to offer a high level of consistency plus add bulk to beat offensive lineman at the point of attack. Pass rushing style while needing to understand his role when defending the run. His change of direction will help him in pass coverage.
DE Chris Wormley and LB Tim Williams were drafted in the third round. Wormley has the talent to offer an edge in the pass rush and against the run, but his missing link is the first step and explosiveness to make a high level in the NFL. Chris will be a solid pro with an edge in the right matchups. Williams appears to be a one-dimensional pass rusher who will need to add some upper body strength to maintain his edge in power in the NFL. His attacking style hurts him in the run game while lacking the vision to defend counter plays.
The Ravens took a flier on S Chuck Clark in the sixth round. His best plays will come defending the run while attacking the line of scrimmage. He struggled when asked to make change of direction moves in pass coverage. Clark will read the QBs eyes well in coverage, which works in college. The top QBs in the NFL will use that to their advantage leading to some easy TDs.
Baltimore ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing yards (1463) in 2016 with 10 TDs. They gained 4.0 yards per rush while attempting only 22.9 rushes per game (30th). The Ravens finished with 41 runs of 10 yards or more and 38 rushes leading to negative yards.
Surprisingly, Baltimore attempted the most passes (679) in the NFL last year, but they gained only 6.4 yards per pass attempts with 20 TDs and 16 Ints. Their offensive line allowed 33 sacks and 77 QB hits. The Ravens completed only 440 passes for 20 yards or more.
LT Ronnie Stanley played well in his rookie season after being drafted sixth overall in the 2016 draft. Stanley who has exceptional quickness with his feet leading to an edge in pass blocking. He needs to add more upper body strength to help maintain his ground against power rushers. His game will also offer more value in run blocking with more overall development. Based on his success last year, Ronnie has a bright future in the NFL.
LG Alex Lewis started the first eight games last year after Baltimore drafted him in the fourth round in 2016. An ankle injury cost him almost the rest of the season. Overall, Alex was a liability in his first season in the league. Lewis will offer a physical presence with solid technique. His best value will come in pass protection even with questionable quickness with his foot speed. His upside as run blocker is limited due to his overall speed.
C John Urschel isn't a lock to start in 2017. The Ravens selected him in the fifth round in 2014. He's played in 40 games over the last three seasons. His biggest competition will come from Ryan Jensen who's only played in 19 games since being drafted in the 6th round in 2013. This position looks to be a weakness this year.
RG Marshall Yanda has a long winning resume with Baltimore. He's been one of the top run and pass blocking guards in the league over the last couple of seasons. Baltimore drafted him in the 3rd round in 2007. Yanda had surgery in the offseason to repair a torn labrum.
RT James Hurst was a liability in his limited playing time in 2016. He started only three games leading to weakness in all areas. The Ravens don't have a ton of this position so the starter could come from multiple options.
This line has two players with above league average skills plus two extremely weak options. The fifth player would grade as a negative option as well. Overall, this is a below par offensive line.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing TDs touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing TDs (TDS).
This information is based on 2016, which will work as our starting point for 2017. We'll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2016 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2016.
2016 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL last year.
2016 Adjustment is based on the 2016 league average and the 2016 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat and the basis for strength of schedule.
Baltimore has three plus matchups for their rushing options (CLE X 2 and MIA). It looks like the have four below par games (PIT X 2, GB, and TEN).
Their schedule in the passing game is below average with three bad matchups (JAX, MIN, and HOU). They only have two matchups that appear to offer upside for their passing game (IND and TEN).
The Ravens struggled to run the ball last year plus game score led to a ton of pass attempts. The lack of talent and explosiveness at wide receiver was a factor as well. This offense remains a station to station type team with erratic play in the passing game.
The Ravens' defense will face two teams with weak rushing offenses (MIN and DET) and one team with strength running the ball (TEN). The rest of the schedule defending run looks to be about league average.
Their season starts with six below par passing offenses over the first 12 games of the season plus another one late in the season. Baltimore will face three teams with some upside passing the ball over the last five weeks of the season.
Baltimore finished 5th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (1430) in 2016 with 10 TDs. They only allowed four runs over 20 yards with teams attempting 24 rushes per game.
They ended up 9th in passing yards allowed (3724) with receivers catching 28 TDs. Their defense had 18 Ints and 31 sacks.
DT Brandon Williams is a three-year starter with his best value coming in run support. Over 55 games in the NFL, Brandon has 4.5 sacks. Overall, he grades as a league average player at his position. All their options at defensive end look to offer no real upside with minimal sack production. The defensive line of this team is well below the best teams in the league.
LB Terrell Suggs continues to be the best player rushing the QB even at the age of 34. Last year he played through a biceps issue that required surgery after the season. Terrell finished 2016 with eight sacks. LB C.J. Mosley played his best ball in his rookie season in 2014 after getting drafted in the first round. Last season he didn't record a sack in 14 games while battling a hamstring and a calf issue. His game does offer an edge at his position with more upside if he gets to the quarterback. The Ravens have three linebackers drafted in the second and third round over the last two seasons – Kamalei Correa, Tyus Bowser, and Tim Williams.
S Tony Jefferson was one of the better players in the league at his position in 2016. He'll add solid value in run support while chipping in with an occasional sack. His season ended last year with an MCL issue that didn't require surgery. Both Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr should be league average players at cornerback. S Eric Weddle will add plenty of tackles with high value defending passes. Last year he finished as one of the best safeties in the league. He had his best season with Baltimore since 2011.
The Ravens should play well in the second and third levels of their defense, but they look to be in transition at the linebacker position apart from Mosley. I don't expect a ton of impact on the defensive line. They will bully weaker teams, so they will have matchup Fantasy value. The key to their improvement in 2017 with be an improved pass rush, which may come from their defensive scheme.
QB Joe Flacco - Quality Backup
Update 10/16/17Even with an empty score at QB in Week 5 (11.10), Flacco showed a spark for the first time all year. He gained 8.5 yards per pass attempt, which was well above his first four games (7.1, 6.4, 1.6, and 4.8). Game score lead to short chances (26) with a high completion rate (73.1). The Bears held QBs to fewer than 240 yards passing in each of their last four games. Aaron Rodgers beat them for four TDs in Week 5 while Matt Ryan passed for 321 yards and a TD in Week 1. Weak option with not a great matchup. Game score shouldn’t lead to a ton of balls in the air in Baltimore in Week 6.
RB Kenneth Dixon - Not Draft Worthy
Dixon is out for the year due to a torn miniscus.
RB Alex Collins - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 10/16/17Fantasy owners can make the best evaluations each week, but their ultimately at the mercy of the decisions by the head coaches in the NFL. Alex ended up being the third wheel in the rushing attack in Week 5, but a Terrance West injury bumped his chances during the game. Collins finished with 12 runs for 55 yards while being on the field for only 16 of 66 play compared to 47 by Javorius Allen. He's averaging 7.1 yards per carry so something has to give going forward. Only a bet on the come until Allen starts to lose playing time.
RB Danny Woodhead - Over the Hill (decreased production)
The Ravens signed Woodhead in the offseason to help cover the loss of Kenneth Dixon. Danny tore his right ACL in in Week 2 in 2016 that required surgery. His recovery should put him on track to be ready for the start of the season. He'll start the year at age 33, so his game could easily lose a step. He had 76 catches in 2013 and 80 in 2015 plus Baltimore is more than willing to throw the ball to the RB position (118/756/2 on 156 targets in 2016). I'd love to think he'll catch 50+ balls, but Woodhead has a lot to prove plus Baltimore won't create a lot of room for him in the short passing game. I'm only interested if his price point is just about free. A Fantasy owner won't make a living investing in 33-year-old RBs coming off a major injury.
RB Terrance West - Quality Backup
Due to Kenneth Dixon's season-ending injury, West is in line for an expanded role similar to the one he saw last year as Baltimore's featured back. He will still split time with Danny Woodhead, although Woodhead will likely contribute more on passing downs thanks to his many talents as a pass-catcher.
RB Javorius Allen - Dynasty Only
Update 10/16/17Even with Alex Collins gaining momentum and Terrance West removing himself from the RB equation, Allen remains the RB of choice in Baltimore. Javorius led the Ravens in RB snaps for the fifth straight game. Last week he had a season high 25 touches for 85 combined yards with a TD and four catches. Over the last four games, Allen has 20 catches for 97 yards and a TD while gaining only 4.9 yards per rush. The uptick in early down carries is a surprise considering his 3.5 yards per rush in 2017. The Bears allowed a rushing TD in each game with RBs gaining 3.9 yards per rush. Passing catching back with low upside in TDs plus he could easily lose his opportunity on early downs. Torn between his opportunity and his underlying talent.
WR Chris Moore - Dynasty Only
Over his last three seasons at Cincinnati in college, Moore caught 115 passes for 2188 yards and 24 TDs. He averaged over 21.0 yards per catch over his last two seasons. Moore has some quickness and ability to get deep, but his game looks to be one dimensional with questions with his ability to beat press coverage and run multiple pass patterns. In his rookie season, Chris had seven catches for 46 yards on 16 targets. I see plenty of concerns with his skill set, but Moore may emerge as the WR3 in this offense unless Baltimore adds a veteran wideout.
WR Jeremy Maclin - Bust (overvalued)
Update 10/16/17Maclin had a season high in catches (6) and targets (8) in Week 5, but he's gained fewer than ten yards per catch in fourth straight games. On the year, Jeremy averages 5.6 targets per game with two TDs. WRs have 56 catches for 667 yards and six TDs on 94 targets against the Bears. Maclin is listed as questionable for this week's game with a shoulder injury. Even the best salesman won’t sell you a car loaded with dents. Tough matchup with a poor opportunity.
WR Breshad Perriman - Sleeper (undervalued)
Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman made some big plays during OTAs and seems to have proven us right as the depth chart has him on a top row all his own while Maclin and Wallace share a row themselves. Perriman is dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring sprain. The timeline for this injury should be about a month. Baltimore would clearly love to have him back for Week 1, so it remains to be seen if this injury will affect his Week 1 status. We do however expect a breakout season from the often injured Perriman - 60 catches 900 yards and 5 touchdowns.
WR Mike Wallace - Quality Backup
Update 10/16/17Wallace has been the best WR in Baltimore over the last two games (6/55/1 and 3/133) after catching only three passes for 21 yards on nine targets in the first three games. Mike had a season high ten targets in Week 4, but game score led to only three chances last week. Two elite WRs had success vs. the Bears (Mike Evans - 7/93/1 and Antonio Brown - 10/110/1). Wallace has scoring and big play ability, but he can't have success without the Ravens throwing him the ball. HIs matchup vs. CB should give him the edge. Rising salary, but he has ton of stats to still make up after a slow start to the year. Can he come in for the third straight week? Very capable.
TE Dennis Pitta - Quality Backup
The Ravens released Pitta after he sustained another hip injury.
TE Ben Watson - Bye Week Fill-in
Update 10/16/17Watson ended up playing last week after being listed as questionable with a calf issue. He won the snap battle at TE (59 to 44) with Baltimore running a lot of two TE sets due to game score. Over the last three games, Benjamin has ten catches for 57 yards on 13 targets. His best success came in Week 2 (8/91) against a poor Browns' TE defense. TEs have 21 catches for 278 yards and two TDs against the Bears with their biggest failure coming in Week 1 (Austin Hooper - 2/128/1). The Ravens don't run the ball well in close so a play action TD is a reasonable outcome in this matchup.
PK Justin Tucker - Stud (low risk)
Tucker is one of the best kickers in the game. Since the NFL moved the line for extra points, he's 56-for-56 while never missing an extra point in his career. Justin led the NFL in field goals made (38) for the second time in his career while missing only one kick all year. He was an incredible 10-for-10 from 50 yards or long to improve his career average in this area to 28-for-40. Tucker has made 89.9 percent of his field goal tries in his career while averaging 33.6 made on 37.4 attempts per season. Justin is my choice top at kicker again in 2017. He'll help a Fantasy owner win multiple matches during the season.