2018 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview

by Noah Spurlock
2018 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview

Over the course of the summer, I'm going to be taking a look at the offenses of all 32 NFL teams. Examining the QB, RB, WR, and TE positions for each team. Enjoy!

In today's NFL, it is clear that offense will defeat defense. Most teams, if given the choice, would take an elite offense over an elite defense. The Baltimore Ravens are one of the few teams whose defense is better than the offense. This defense caused more interceptions than any other team last year.

The offense, however, is less impressive. They hover around the average-to-bottom tier in almost every category. 6th least passing yards, 6th least total yards, and 9th least passing touchdowns. The Ravens, a 9-7 team in 2017, look to 2018 with playoff views in their eyes, but it won't be easy. Many people, including myself, think it might be time to run HC John Harbaugh and OC Marty Mornhinweg out of town.

2018 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Preview

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  • Joe Flacco
  • Lamar Jackson

Like the Arizona Cardinals, whom I've already reviewed, the Baltimore Ravens have a quarterback controversy. The 10-year starter Joe Flacco, or the controversial upstart Lamar Jackson? Most of us lean towards the latter, but the Ravens clearly have Joe Flacco on a longer leash than most of us. They respect and trust Flacco and will give him the starting job, at least for the beginning portion of the season.

There are certainly people in the football community who view Joe Flacco worse than I do. He's a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Yes, his defense was electric, but a Super Bowl is a Super Bowl. Additionally, those who bash on Flacco's recent years' performance need to recognize what he's had to deal with. Flacco hasn't had a 1,000+ yard rusher in 3 seasons and, outside of Steve Smith, his receivers were poor during that time as well. Now, I'm not saying Flacco should start over Lamar Jackson. But, he isn't the sole reason for Baltimore's struggles like fans want to believe he is.

Reasons that favor Jackson

My opinion of Lamar Jackson has grown exponentially since January. I used to think he was a scramble-only guy who wouldn't succeed in the NFL. However, Jackson consistently tends toward the top tier of every passing stat imaginable. Additionally, as Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus pointed out, 73% of Jackson's rush yards came on designed run plays.

What this means is that when asked to throw, Jackson threw and did well. If asked to run, he ran and did well. They brought Robert Griffin III onto the Baltimore squad to be a mentor to Lamar, which I love. Despite a career generally labeled a bust, RG3 played awesome until he blew out his knee. On an offense in dire need of a spark, Jackson could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Running Backs

  • Alex Collins
  • Javorious Allen
  • Kenneth Dixon

Quietly, Alex Collins played really well last year. He didn't shape into form until about midway through the season, but at his peak, he was playing as a top-10 back in the league. He ran for 4.6 yards per carry, and almost single-handedly won Baltimore games late in the season. Additionally, Marshal Yanda returns in 2018 after a very brief 2017. His presence is extremely important. Yanda is a top-20 player every year in the NFL and will be in the Hall of Fame. Yanda's presence makes a running back's days a whole lot easier.

Where Collins faces limitations is in the passing game. So, enter Javorious Allen and Kenneth Dixon. Dixon was under suspension, but Allen caught 46 passes during the year. Mornhinweg will look to make Flacco/Jackson's life easier, so expect the Allen/Dixon combination to soak up plenty of targets.

Wide Receivers

  •  LWR: Willie Snead
  • RWR: Michael Crabtree
  • SWR: John Brown

The Ravens have no shortage of new faces at receiver this year, as Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown all enter their first year in Baltimore.

Willie Snead had a laughably bad 2017 season. A popular fantasy football sleeper, Snead was under suspension for PED's in the off-season and barely even started his 2017 before it ended. He posted a pitiful 8/92/0 line on the season. Most receivers put up that effort in one game. At one point, he held negative fantasy points on the year. No joke! Regardless, he remains one of my favorite sleepers in 2018. Posting a 72/895/4 line in 2017, Snead remains a talented receiver. He was barely getting snaps in New Orleans. Let's hope all he needs is a fresh home.

Michael Crabtree can still ball. He definitely struggled in 2017, but so did the rest of the Raiders. Crabtree caught 25 touchdowns in his three years at Oakland. So, he figures to be a big red-zone factor, and overall the #1 guy in Baltimore. Baltimore passes the ball a lot, meaning Crabtree has consideration top-25 for 2018.

If John Brown can stay healthy, he'll be a pleasant surprise. A former 1,000 yard receiver, sickle cell anemia and other factors limited John Brown's production. He's more than likely going to be Baltimore's deep threat in the upcoming season, while also snagging underneath passes. Brown can smoke defenders, running a 4.3 at the combine.

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Tight Ends

  • Hayden Hurst
  • Nick Boyle

It's currently unclear who the starting tight end is going to be, but many sites such as ESPN suggest it will be Hayden Hurst. Hurst, out of South Carolina, is extremely reliable, as shown in the chart above. Hurst will be good for Flacco or Jackson. Any QB appreciates a good tight end that they can trust. Hurst won't blow the roof off the building in fantasy football, but he has immediate opportunity.

Nick Boyle isn't projected to do much other than give Hurst a run for his money.

Final verdict

The Ravens don't have the worst offense in the league, but are extremely limited with Flacco under center and likely much better off getting Jackson as many reps as possible.

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1 comment

Monday, June 25, 2018 - Fantasy Football Links - FantasyRundown.com June 25, 2018 - 8:40 pm

[…] previews the Baltimore Ravens to help you get ready for […]


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