Baltimore Ravens Camp Report and Fantasy Expectations
Training camp is under way, and the Baltimore Ravens are preparing for this upcoming season. There are plenty of questions about the Raven’s roster heading into this season. I hope to shed some light on what we should expect from this Raven’s offense and what fantasy impact their players will have.
The quarterback position is getting all of the attention early on. A “longtime Ravens observer” told NBC’s Peter King that Joe Flacco is having “far and away” his best training camp ever. King said he was impressed by the practice he saw, noting “six beautiful medium-to-deep throws right on the money in team drills.” Every report about Flacco has him shining in camp so far. It makes sense. Flacco is healthy after spending all 2017 dealing with effects from a back injury he suffered while lifting in the pre-season, and having 2018 first round pick Lamar Jackson in the picture should motivate him as well. So far Flacco is looking like he’s up to the challenge.
Lamar Jackson looks exactly as advertised. “He’s done an outstanding job up to date” said Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “He’s way ahead of the curve.” Jackson has pro-style experience under Bobby Petrino at Louisville. With Mornhinweg (Michael Vick) and assistant head coach Greg Roman (Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick), the Ravens have two coaches on staff with experience working with dual-threat quarterbacks. For those of you who are wondering when Jackson will hit the field, “One way or another, he’s going to be out there, taking snaps” says Coach John Harbaugh. “Lamar is also a weapon for us, and we’re going to play Lamar at quarterback.” In regards to the Lamar Jackson hype, Harbaugh has made it clear that this is Flacco’s team.
Joe Flacco is a low end QB2 that should have a few good games this season. He should only be drafted in a 2 Quarterback league or Superflex. He could be a solid bye week free agent quarterback in 12 team leagues.
Lamar Jackson is a wild card. If Flacco struggles early on expect Jackson to take over. If Jackson starts he is an immediate fantasy impact player due to his mobility. Don’t expect him to come in and be the next Deshaun Watson, but don’t be surprised if he does. Lamar Jackson should be owned in all Dynasty leagues, 2 Quarterback, and Superflex leagues. If your league has a deep bench, expanded rosters, or Taxi Squad, Jackson is a fantastic stash.
The running back position is not complicated. Alex Collins is the starting running back for the Baltimore Ravens. He is the most complete running back the Ravens have on the roster. He is strong, quick, illusive, and stays on the field, something the Ravens haven’t had since Ray Rice. Collins has spent the last few months preparing for the upcoming season. One focus of his is to stay on the field in 3rd down situations. He has worked on his pass catching and pass blocking. Another focus of his has been to bulk up. Running backs take a beating over the course of a season, and Collins has added some weight to withstand that. He is listed at 210 pounds, but he told reporters that he played last season closer to 200 pounds.
“I just put on five extra pounds just to see how that feels, and I’m moving around great,” he said. “I’ve still got my stamina, as well as more strength”
With a full season as the starter, Collins has set a goal of crossing the 1,000-yard threshold. It’s a goal he has set for himself every year since high school.
Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen will compete for touches behind Alex Collins. Dixon has already missed four practices in a row due to a hamstring injury. Dixon has a history of soft tissue injuries. He missed all of last season due to injury. He certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him. Buck Allen is in a contract year, and having a solid camp. He should see time mostly as a third down back.
Alex Collins should be a solid RB2 in PPR leagues. With the improvements on Baltimore’s offensive line this season, Collins has the potential to finish this season as a back end RB1 . For more fantasy insight on Collins, see my previous article below.
Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen are nothing more than handcuffs at this point.
The Ravens said they were going to completely makeover their wide receiver core this offseason, and that they did.
Michael Crabtree is the unquestioned #1 wide receiver on the team and will be Joe Flacco’s favorite red-zone target. This comes as no surprise. Crabtree has converted a solid 42.2% of his career targets inside the 10 into touchdowns. He scored 13 red-zone touchdowns in three seasons with the Raiders.
John “Smokey” Brown has had an incredible camp so far. He continues to put on a show every day. Brown has shown his speed and big-play potential, connecting with Flacco on several deep passes.
Brown is known for his breakaway speed, but his play has shown his ability to make difficult contested catches. He has brought a new dynamic to this Ravens offense. He already seems to have strong chemistry with Flacco on deep balls and timing routes. We may very well see John Brown put up the numbers that we have all been waiting for.
Willie Snead will play the slot in a prove-it season. He could be the beneficiary to those famous Joe Flacco 4 yard passes.
Michael Crabtree should be drafted a WR3/Flex in PPR leagues with the potential to be a WR2. He has solid touchdown potential every week.
John Brown is a big play threat that should be a target in Best Ball leagues. You could probably hold out drafting him in 12 team leagues unless you have a deep bench. He is a player to keep an eye on.
Willie Snead is not a player to target in your draft.
Baltimore selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th pick, because he was by far, the most polished tight end in this year’s draft class. He’s quick, catches everything, and tough. Baltimore has high expectations for the 25 year old rookie.
“I understand, they want me to play early, but football is football,” Hurst said. “I have a lot of confidence in what I was able to do in college. I know the type of player that I am, and I’m going to carry it over here. Once I learn the playbook and I can start playing it faster, it’s going to be exciting.”
Flacco and the Ravens offense has leaned heavily on their tight ends in the passing game over the years. Hurst should see plenty of targets.
Nick Boyle may start the season as the Ravens starting tight end, but that will not last long. Hurst is worth owning in most PPR leagues, as he could catch up to 60 passes with potential of scoring over 5 touchdowns. He will be a TE2 this year and could be a TE1 for the following seasons to come. No other Baltimore tight end is worth a roster spot unless you are in a dynasty league. In that case, Mark Andrews could be a long term stash.
Don't reach for Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco’s play may hold off Lamar longer than people may think. Draft Jackson with long term potential in mind, not as a starting QB this year.
Draft Alex Collins with confidence. He produced RB1 numbers in the last 8 games on 2017, and I expect bigger things from him this season.
Baltimore's defense should be top 5 again this year. If you can hold on to this defense all season, you will reap the benefits.
Justin Tucker is good. Don't drop him.