QB Joe Flacco – Over ten seasons in the NFL, Flacco has a 92-62 record with one Super Bowl title. His yards per passing attempts (5.7) was a career low with three straight seasons of regression. After setting a career high in completions (436), pass attempts (672), and passing yards (4,317), Joe saw his passing opportunity fall by almost 19 percent in 2017. Flacco had a league-low 29 completions over 20 yards. Last year Joe battled a back issue late in August putting his regular season at risk. He’s only missed six games in his 160 opportunities in his career. Baltimore tried to improve their TE talent in the draft, and they cleaned house at the top end of the WR position. I hate his offensive line, which will lead to many short passes again this season. Only once in his career has Joe delivered more than league average passing TDs. Only a low-end QB2 in the Fantasy world with a chance to deliver a playable game about 25 percent of the time. Possible 3,600 yards with just over 20 passing TDs.
QB Lamar Jackson – Over three seasons as a starter for Louisville, Jackson passed for 9,043 yards with 69 TDs and 27 Ints. He finished with a low completion rate (57.0) while showing growth in each year. Lamar is a dynamic runner who has a high volume of chances in 2016 (260/1571/21) and 2017 (232/1601/18). Jackson finished his college career with 4,132 yards rushing with an amazing 50 rushing TDs. Lamar has a quick release with exceptional velocity for his minimal movement. He’ll redefine the running game from the QB positions. Jackson will struggle to make plays in a tight pocket but destroy teams when he breaks into the second level of the defense. When the pocket breaks down, his first thought is to run. Jackson has a shot to break Michael Vick’s single-season record in rushing yards (1,039) yards for a QB in his career. Very intriguing Fantasy options when Jackson earns a full time starting job.
RB Alex Collins – As a late addition to the Ravens roster in September after being cut by Seattle, Collins blossomed into the top RB option for Baltimore. Alex flashed upside in Week 2 (9/82) and Week 3 (9/82), which eventually led to him earning the starting job. Over the last nine games with starting snaps (19.2 per game), Collins gained 785 combined yards with six TDs and 23 catches while averaging 18.2 touches per game. He finished with three strong games (143 combined yards with two catches, 98 combined yards with two TDs and two catches, and 146 combined yards with a TD and two catches). His value is limited while offering some risk in pass protection. In 2017, the Ravens’ RBs gained 1,805 yards and 12 TDs on 431 carries. This season Alex will be the lead runner on early downs for Baltimore. He projects to get about 300 touches for 1,400 yards with double-digit TDs and about 25 catches.
Update: 8/14/18 > With Kenneth Dixon working his way out of the mix of touches in the passing game, Fantasy owners can draft Collins with more confidence in 2018. Just remember, last year Baltimore completed 109 passes to the RB position. Alex will surely get more catches than 2017, which helps raise his floor in PPR leagues.
RB Kenneth Dixon – Over four seasons at Louisiana Tech, Dixon rushed for 4483 yards with 72 rushing TDs while also catching 87 passes for 969 yards with another 15 TDs. His value in the passing game blossom in his junior and senior seasons (63/849/13). Kenneth will add explosiveness to the Ravens’ offense will some HR ability if he breaks through to the second level of the defense. His ability to catch is a plus while doing damage in the deep passing game as well. His biggest risk will come in his ball security (13 fumbles in college) with questionable value in pass protection. In his first season in the NFL, Dixon had 88 rushes for 382 yards and two TDs plus 30 catches for 162 yards and a TD. Kenneth only averaged 5.4 yards per catch. He missed all of 2017 with torn meniscus and suspension. Dixon has three knee injuries already in his short NFL career. The Ravens will give him the best opportunity in the passing game, but his opportunity will be a work in progress on early downs. Talent player who has injury risk. Possible 50+ catches with a chance at 750 combined yards with a full season of snaps. Based on 2017 (109/923/3 on 146 targets), there is a high volume catch opportunity in his offense.
Update 8/11/2018 > Kenneth Dixon continues to battle a hamstring injury this summer. There have been reports that he may not make the opening day roster, which would help the value of both Alex Collins and Javorius Allen. Dixon will be downgraded severely in the next projection update.
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RB Javorius Allen – Despite only gaining 3.9 yards per rush and 5.4 yards per catch, the Ravens still gave 199 touches in 2017. He finished with 741 combined yards with six TDs and 46 catches. His best value came in a chaser game. Over the first nine games of the season, Javorius had five games with five catches or more. Baltimore phased him out in the passing game over the second half of year (only seven combined catches with 61 total yards). Allen is a grinder type back who enters 2018 as the third option in the run game if Alex Collins and Kenneth Allen stay healthy.
Update: 8/14/18 > Allen moved back up to RB2 in the Ravens’ system with Dixon gaining no momentum over the summer. He’s a boring type player with pass catching ability, but the Ravens will give him plenty of chances if Collins struggles within games.
WR Michael Crabtree – After two nice seasons (85/922/9 and 89/1003/8) with the 49ers while averaging 9.1 targets per game, Crabtree struggled to make an impact in 2107 (58/618/8). He scored five of his eight TDs in two games (6/80/3 and 7/39/2). Michael missed two games due to a suspension and a hamstring injury. The Raiders gave him double-digit targets in five games, but he failed to gain over 100 yards receiving in any game. Last year the Ravens’ WRs caught only 146 passes for 1,734 yards and 11 TDs on 263 targets. Crabtree takes over as the top possession receiver for Baltimore with his opportunity pointing to 70+ catches for 900+ yards with about seven TDs. He signed a three-year $21 million contract in March.
WR Willie Snead – Snead looked to be on the rise after two strong seasons (69/984/3 and 72/895/4) with the Saints while receiving 205 combined targets over 30 games. His 2017 season started with a three-game suspension followed up by a hamstring issue. Willie failed to make an impact any game last year leading to only eight catches for 92 yards on 16 targets. This season he’ll try to rebuild his career with the Ravens. Enough talent to emerge as the number two WR with Baltimore if John Brown can’t stay healthy. For now, only a 50-catch opportunity with minimal upside in TDs.
WR John Brown – A sickle-cell issue cost Brown plenty of playing time over the last two years. His career started with upside in 2014 (48/696/5) with follow through in 2015 (65/1003/7). Over the last two seasons over 25 games, John only has 60 combined catches for 816 yards and five TDs on 127 targets. Last year Brown battled a toe, a back, and a quad issue leading to his failed season. The Ravens hope he adds value in the deep passing game. Too many question marks for me with plenty of failure risk.
Update: 8/15/2018 > John Brown struggled with injuries over the last two seasons after setting a winning bar in 2015 (65/1003/7). I had him ranked lower out of the gate in the Ravens’ offense due to his injury-plagued path plus Baltimore added Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead to their roster. Brown looks to have gained the bounce in his step this summer while helping Joe Flacco find his missing deep passing game. At the very least, Brown now become the clear WR2 for the Ravens while offering a nice floor and some big game ability. I don’t expect a top 36 WR season with Flacco using this RBs and TEs a high percentage of time in the passing game, but Brown does get a nice bump in his projections and expected opportunity with his play this summer. He works best as a WR5 for me based on him still having some injury risk and health concerns. In the end, John has enough talent to finish as a top 48 WR in 2018.
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WR Jaleel Scott – Over two seasons at New Mexico State, Scott caught 99 passes for 1,362 yards and 14 TDs in 23 games. His best value came in his senior year when he caught 76 balls for 1,079 yards and nine TDs. Jaleel is a big WR with a short resume and questionable with his route running while needing to improve his technique. A possible scoring threat in the red zone, but he’ll need some time to develop.
WR Jordan Lasley – Just like Jaleel Scott, Lasley made a strong step forward in his last season in college. As a junior, Jordan caught 69 passes for 1,264 yards and nine TDs. He’ll offer quickness over the short areas of the field with open field running ability. Lasley needs to get stronger with huge improvement needed in his hands.
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TE Hayden Hurst – Over the last two seasons at South Carolina, Hurst caught 92 passes for 1,175 yards and three TDs. Many of highlights in college show him with easy releases and wide-open catches behind the second level of the defense. Hayden needs to prove he can handle press coverage in the NFL and a tighter catch window. His hands grade well while having the speed to test a defense in the deep passing. The Ravens completed 104 passes to the TE in 2017 for 811 yards and five TDs on 134 targets. Hurst should emerge as the top TE option in his rookie season. Baltimore will rotate players at TE, which makes him a tougher buy on draft day. I’d draft him as an upside TE2 in PPR leagues with a floor of 50/500/5. His weakness in blocking will keep him off the field on many downs when the Ravens want to run the ball.
TE Nick Boyle – In his third year in the NFL, Boyle set a career high with 28 catches for 203 yards and no TDs on 37 targets. A Fantasy owner must look no further than his 7.3 yards per catch to see that Nick is just a run blocking TE with no upside in catches.
TE Mark Andrews – In his junior season at Oklahoma, Andrews caught 62 passes for 958 yards and eight TDs. He scored 22 TDs over 35 games in college while splitting time at WR and TE. He’s a pass catching TE with questions with his fight in the trenches of the blocking game. His WR history suggests Andrews will struggle with the dirty work needed to play on early downs. Possible mismatch problem in two TE sets, which gives him some TD value and upside in the right matchup.
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