The Ravens missed the playoffs in 2017 for the third straight year while showing growth in points scored (395 – 9th) and points allowed (303 – 6th). Baltimore finished with a 9-7 record, which was a step up from 2015 (5-11) and 2016 (8-8).
After a great five-year run from 2008 to 2012 where the Ravens made the playoffs in all five seasons capped by a Super Bowl title in 2012, Baltimore has missed the playoffs in four of the last five years. John Harbaugh returns for his 10th season as head coach for the Ravens. He has a 94-66 record with six playoff berths and one Super Bowl title. The Ravens showed growth in points scored (395 – 9th) and points allowed (303 – 6th). Baltimore finished with a 9-7 record, which was a step up from 2015 (5-11) and 2016 (8-8).
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. Even with an improvement in scoring in 2017, Baltimore finished 27th in the league in yards allowed.
The Ravens fired their defensive coordinator after last year. Don Martindale earn the next shot at running the defense after spending the last five seasons in Baltimore as the linebacker’s coach. Martindale has 13 years of NFL coaching experience highlighted by his 2010 season when he had his first shot at being a defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. The Ravens ranked in the top 12 in defensive yards allowed over the last five years.
Most of the key offseason moves for Baltimore came at the WR position. They released Jeremy Maclin and Michael Campanaro while Mike Wallace and Griff Whalen found new homes. The Ravens added John Brown, Willie Snead, and Michael Crabtree to upgrade their wide receiving core.
Baltimore lost starting C Ryan Jensen to the Buccaneers. In his only year as a starter, Jensen with a neutral run blocker with risk in pass protection.
The Ravens moved on from RB Terrance West, RB Danny Woodhead, QB Ryan Mallett, TE Crockett Gilmore, and TE Benjamin Watson. All player offered minimal in 2017.
Lardarius Webb was a top CB in 2011 and 2013 when he recorded 42 combined defended passes and six Ints. His game faded to role player in 2017 leading to a trip to the free agent pool this offseason.
Baltimore had 12 draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft with two coming in the first round.
With the 25th overall selection, the Ravens filled their void at TE with Hayden Hurst. He’s an athletic player who started his pro career in baseball. His hands grade well while needing to refine his route running. His release and quickness give him a chance to offer upside in his first season in the NFL. Hayden will need to prove he can separate at the next level while trying to disguise his movements when breaking at the top of his route. Hurst needs growth in his blocking as well.
The days of Joe Flacco leading the Ravens’ franchise appear to be almost over with QB Lamar Jackson added late in the first round. Jackson brings a whole new skill set to the QB position Baltimore. His running ability will force teams to defend the Ravens’ offense differently. Lamar has an NFL arm strength with a quick release, but he needs to improve his ability to throw on the run plus gain more vision when scanning beyond his early options in the passing game. Jackson will be explosive as a runner with high value with his legs in the red zone. To be a complete QB, he’ll need to improve his footwork in the pocket to help gain a larger passing window without relying on his legs.
Baltimore had two picks in the third round – OT Orlando Brown and TE Mark Andrews.
Brown is a beast in size (6’8” and 345 lbs.), but his upper body strength is well below NFL standards. Orlando lacks technique with minimal upside in athletic ability. He wins his battles with his base and overall mass. Brown has a chance as power run blocker while expected to handle his responsibilities in pass blocking.
Andrew is a pass-catching option at TE with risk in blocking. He runs good routes with strength in his hands. His biggest downside comes in his lack of aggression, which points to softness to his game.
In the fourth round, the Ravens added CB Anthony Averett, LB Kenny Young, and WR Jaleel Scott.
Averett brings speed (4.36) to the secondary while needing more strength to battle at the line of scrimmage. Anthony is a play-making cover corner with value in tackling. His lack of size (5’11” and 183 Lbs.) puts him in the development mode before adding starting value in the NFL. He does his job but lacks the vision and feel to cheat toward another wide receiver breaking free in his area.
Young is another player with plus speed (4.6), which will help him in coverage and run support with an open lane to the oncoming ball carrier. Kenny will struggle when trying to beat blocks at the line of scrimmage while lacking play recognition.
The Ravens hope Scott can develop into a playmaking deep threat with scoring value in the red zone. He has size (6’5” and 218 lbs.), but his route running limits his passing patterns. Jaleel release tends to be slow with an easy read on his breaks. Scott plays with a physical style with the fight and hands to win many jump balls.
Baltimore selected WR Jordan Lasley in the fifth round. Lasley has NFL average WR speed (4.5) with elite quickness, but he lacks play strength. He’s athletic with playmaking ability while his hands graded poorly in college. Jordan will threaten defenses in all areas while huge upside in the open field. In Lasley’s mind, he’s a much better player than his production shows. He tends to get himself in trouble on and off the field while lacking a commitment to getting better.
In the sixth round, the Ravens drafted S Deshon Elliott, OT Greg Senat, and C Bradley Bozeman.
Elliott is an attacking safety with value in run support. His best value comes when attacking the line of scrimmage while offering some risk when asked to cover in the deep passing game. Deshon will struggle when needing to change his direction in pass coverage.
Senat is a former basketball player who brings athletic ability to the offensive line. His lack of experience and technique paints him as a project. Greg needs to add more strength to handle the battles in the NFL trenches.
Bozeman has limited experience college thanks to playing much of his career behind an MFL first-round draft pick. He plays with power with questions about his first step and his overall speed. Bradley is power player with limited range.
With the last pick in the seventh round, Baltimore added DE Zach Sieler. He went to a small school (Ferris St.). Sieler offers speed and power for his size (6’6” and 290 lbs.) while recording 26.5 sacks over his last two years in college. His hands grade well, but Sieler has a lot to prove vs. tougher competition.
Baltimore placed 11th in rushing yards (1,856) with 14 TDs. Their rushers gained 4.0 yards per carry while averaging 28.8 rushes per game. The Ravens were the worst team in the NFL in yards per passing attempt (5.7). They gained 3,030 yards passing (29th) with 20 TDs and 13 Ints. Their offensive line allowed 27 sacks and 87 QB hits.
LT Ronnie Stanley was a league average player in his second year in the NFL 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. In 2017, Ronnie was a better player in run blocking.
LG Alex Lewis missed 2017 with a torn labrum in his shoulder. In 2016, Lewis started the first eight games after Baltimore drafted him in the fourth round. 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 a run blocker is limited due to his overall speed.
C Matt Skura doesn’t offer much upside to the Ravens’ offensive line. Last year he struggled in all areas while starting the last nine games. Last year he battled a knee injury while having shoulder surgery in January.
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 after Baltimore drafted him in the 3rd round in 2007. Yanda had surgery in the offseason of 2017 to repair a torn labrum. His season ended after two games last year with a broken left ankle.
RT James Hurst will switch positions in 2018. Last year he started all 16 games at left guard for Baltimore. Over four years in the NFL, Hurst has been a weak link in each season. Last season he held his own in run blocking while failing in pass protection. His window to start won’t last long.
This offensive line doesn’t have one player expected to offer an edge. Yanda has been a stud in his career, but a couple of injuries over the last two seasons and age pushes his production down a notch or two. Joe Flacco tends to get rid of the ball quickly, which hide the risk in sacks. The run game flashed at times in 2017, but the overall run blocking was poor. The Ravens have one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. 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.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
Baltimore has a slightly below league average schedule for both their run and pass games. They will be challenged on the ground by the Broncos, the Titans, and the Panthers. Their biggest success is expected to be against the Chargers and the Bengals (2).
The Ravens has two tough matchups in the passing game (DEN and LAC) while the Steelers and the Bengals offer strength defending the pass in 2017. The Ravens’ best success should come against Tampa followed by the Titans and the Chiefs.
Despite having a non-running QB, Baltimore ranked 7th in the NFL in rushing attempts (460). Baltimore would like to throw the ball more, but lack of talent at WR and a poor offensive line limited the passing window. This offense would take a big turn if Lamar Jackson took over at QB.
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.
Other Options: Robert Griffin, Josh Woodrum
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.
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.
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.
Other Options: Mark Thompson, De’Lance Turner, Gus Edwards
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.
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.
Other Options: Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman, DeVier Posey, Tim White, Quincy Adeboyejo
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.
Other Options: Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle, Nick Keizer
K Justin Tucker – Tucker is one of the best kickers in the game. Since the NFL moved the line for extra points, he’s 95-for-95 while never missing an extra point in his career (205 chances). Justin made 34 of 37 field goals in 2017 while averaging 34.4 made field goals over the last five seasons. He made all ten of his 50-yard or long FGs in 2016 and 5-for-7 last seasons to improve his career average in this area to 33-for-47. Tucker has made 90.2 percent of his field goal tries in his career. Justin is my choice top at kicker again in 2018. He’ll help a Fantasy owner win multiple matches during the season.
The Ravens face two teams (NO and CAR) with strength running the ball. They have three matchups (TB and CIN X 2) with risk in the run games. Overall, Baltimore has a slightly favorable run schedule.
On the passing side, Baltimore has four games (LAC, TB, and PIT) vs. teams with upside in the air plus three other games (NO, ATL, and KC) that grade well above the league passing the ball. They have seven games (BUF, CIN X 2, CLE X 2, CAR, and TEN) where their defense will have an edge defending the pass.
Baltimore was about league average defending the run (1,780 yards – 15th) while allowing 12 TDs and 4.1 yards per rush. The Ravens finished 10th in passing yards allowed (3,421) with 18 TDs and 22 Ints. QBs gained only 6.5 yards per pass attempt while being sacked 41 times.
DT Brandon Williams missed four games in 2017 with a foot injury. Williams tends to be an above a league average player with his best value coming against the run. Over his last 60 games, Williams only has 3.5 sacks. DT Michael Pierce showed growth in his second year in ten NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent. As a rotational player in 2017, Pierce added value to the run defense with one sack and 49 tackles. In his first season with playing time, DT Willie Henry had 33 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and five defended passes.
DE Bronson Kaufusi and DE Chris Wormley have limited playing time after being drafted in the third round in 2016 and 2017. Kaufusi makes up for his lack of impact talent with a high motor and a solid feel for the game. His short area quickness grades highly for his size and position, but there are concerns about his strength and lower foundation. 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.
LB Terrell Suggs will start the year at age 35. Last season he had 49 tackles and 11 sacks while seeing his most playing time since 2014. Suggs was very good against the run as well. LB Matt Judon set a career high in tackles (61) and sacks (8) in his second year in the league. LB C.J. Mosley is an active tackler with three seasons with more than 115 tackles. He chipped in with one sack, seven defended passes, two Ints, and one TD in 2017. Mosley does have risk vs. the run while offering upside pass coverage. LB Patrick Onwuasor beat out multiple players with higher draft pedigree to earn a high percentage of snaps last year. He had 90 tackles with minimal value in coverage and sacking the QB.
S Eric Weddle isn’t the player he once was, but he does add value in pass coverage while adding 63 tackles and a sack. His best biggest regression come against the run. S Tony Jefferson has 75 tackles or more in each of his last four seasons with 7.5 combined sacks. Jefferson is an asset in run support with neutral success in coverage.
CB Brandon Carr will start the year at age 32 while grading league average player at his position. In 2017, Carr had 12 defended passes and four Ints plus 56 tackles. CB Jimmy Smith played at a high level over 12 games before suffering an Achilles injury. He has upside in coverage while offering emptiness in run support. CB Marlon Humphrey played well in his rookie season after the Ravens selected him in the first round. He had 11 defended passes with two Ints. Humphrey 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 plays physical while offering value in press coverage. Great athletic player with high upside with plenty of work to do.
The Ravens’ defense is built to stop the run up the middle while attacking the QB on the outside. The secondary has four players that grade at the league average or better. The linebacking core gets the job done with young talent lingering on the depth chart. As some point, Terrelle Suggs won’t be an impact pass rusher. Baltimore has a schedule with many favorable and unfavorable matchups. I expect the Ravens to be a top 12 defense, but they will require some massaging over the long football season in the Fantasy games.
2018 NFL Team Outlooks