These Ravens players need to step up to become fantasy relevant in 2017.
As their roster is currently constructed, the 2017 Baltimore Ravens are one of the most offensively-depleted rosters in the NFL. Fantasy production from these birds could be limited, but all of their skill position battles are worth keeping an eye on to see which players rise to the top of the fantasy food chain.
This bi-weekly series of columns will focus on one or two teams and their fantasy-relevant players heading into next season. Player rankings are broken up into three tiers: ‘Start ‘Em’, ‘Flex or Stream ‘Em’, and ‘Pick ‘Em Up’. All fantasy rankings and stats are from Pro Football Reference or Fantasy Pros.
It certainly isn’t commonplace to start these columns off with a kicker, but it speaks to just how lacking this offense is and how prolific a kicker Justin Tucker is. Last season, he missed only one field goal (which was blocked) and has yet to miss an extra point in his entire career. Tucker currently owns the top spot all-time in career field goal percentage, hitting them at an 89.8% clip. He should no doubt be the first kicker off the board next season.
Mike Wallace, WR
Wallace, who was starting to become somewhat of a journeyman playing for his fourth team in five seasons, had his most productive season in 2016 since his 2011 campaign with the Steelers. He tallied 72 catches for 1,017 yards and four touchdowns, ranking as the 25th overall wide receiver in fantasy. He still remains a true deep threat, as he had a 50+ yard reception in five different games last season. His big play ability tailed off toward the end of last season due to the lack of playmakers around him. If Breshad Perriman can take the next step, and if the Ravens end up signing either of the freshly-cut Eric Decker or Jeremy Maclin, then Wallace will continue to be the burner they need. He is a WR2 heading into 2017.
Danny Woodhead, RB
He is 32 years old and is coming off of a torn ACL, but I expect Danny Woodhead to have the majority of touches from the backfield to begin the season. Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon split carries last season for the Ravens with middling success. Woodhead’s best fantasy season was in 2015 with the Chargers where he racked up most of his damage catching the ball out of the backfield (80 receptions, 755 yards, six touchdowns). He also ran for three scores, enabling him to finish 11th that season in the fantasy running back rankings. Dixon is out for four weeks to begin the season with a suspension, so Woodhead is an automatic RB2 start for the first month of the season.
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Flex or Stream ‘Em
Kenneth Dixon/Terrance West, RBs
As previously mentioned, Dixon and West were the running back tandem last year for the Ravens. West carried most of the load during the first half of the season as Dixon, who only had 10 or more carries four times, battled injuries. He did, however, provide more spark than West, averaging 4.3 yards per carry to West’s 4.0. With Dixon’s four-game suspension to begin the season, West will get his chance to keep the starting job, getting most of the carries, but leaving the field on passing downs to Woodhead.
It would not surprise me to see Dixon eventually take over the starting job again, but it may not happen until a couple weeks after the suspension is over. West is a flex play to begin the season while Dixon is an end-of-the-bench stash that may end up being flex-worthy or better as the season wears on.
Pick ‘Em Up
With the Ravens releasing Dennis Pitta (who led all tight ends in 2016 with 86 receptions), it is up to the duo of Gillmore and Williams to step up and become more relevant in the passing game as they were in 2015. In 2015, they had 33 and 32 receptions respectively, but last season, Gillmore only caught eight passes while Williams did not catch a single one as he battled injuries.
Joe Flacco, QB
Flacco finished each of the first seven years of his career ranked somewhere between 11th and 19th in fantasy points at his position. His last two seasons have been his worst fantasy wise, finishing 26th in 2015 and 20th in 2016. His lack of passing game options heading into 2017 will not help his cause, especially since Steve Smith retired and Dennis Pitta was cut due to injury. I fully expect the team to sign either Maclin or Decker, and they will need to in order to make Flacco a somewhat viable fantasy option as a bye-week fill-in or bench depth.
Breshad Perriman, WR
After spending his first full NFL season on IR and his second season underwhelming with only 33 catches and 499 yards, he is set to have a make or break year in 2017. The former first round pick needs to be just that, a game changer. He will no doubt get the opportunities to do so, as he currently has only Mike Wallace to deal with on the depth chart. Even if another signing is made, he will get a starting role nonetheless. Perriman is someone you can target with a late pick and hope he pans out through the course of the season while on your bench.
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The Ravens will most likely end the season with a bottom-feeding type offense, but they still have a handful of skill players that can make them more of a threat week-to-week. The backfield trio of Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead will need to take some of the pressure off the arm of Joe Flacco. They will need similar play from Mike Wallace from last season, and the likes of Breshad Perriman, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams to make big plays.
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