As readers may have noticed, we’ve covered most all of these situations in detail at various points in the spring, making many of the situations refreshers rather than rewrites. The Baltimore Ravens’ remodeling of the wide receiver position is no different. In March, we covered the additions of veteran Michael Crabtree and the talented but oft-injured John Brown. which makes today’s rehash a look at what has transpired in Charm City since they were signed. (Spoiler alert: It’s a lot!)
Tight end long has been a fixture in the Ravens’ passing attack under Ozzie Newsome’s tenure, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he spent a first-round choice on Hayden Hurst. Rookie tight ends rarely make a substantial impact in fantasy, with a few exceptions in recent years. Hurst could be added to the list of contributors, and it would come at the expense of both Brown and Crabtree. Neither player ranked higher than 68th in average target depth over the past two seasons. It may be a slightly deceiving stat for Crabtree, given his red zone utility limiting the field depth with which to work.
The NFL draft also brought in fourth-round wideout Jaleel Scott and his 6-foot-5 frame. With such height, he’s bound to see a few fade routes in the end zone during the 2018 season. A round later, Baltimore added UCLA receiver Jordan Lasley. It would require either monumentally awesome play or an injury to expect either of these guys to factor into the game designs in a serious way this season.
Three other selections were devoted to the offensive line, including a third-rounder on tackle Orlando Brown. Greg Senat and Bradley Bozeman both joined Brown in the sixth stanza. Barring an injury, all three figure to enter the year as reserves.
The only other name of concern coming out of the draft is quarterback Lamar Jackson. Baltimore added him late in Round 1 and will deploy the Louisville star in various ways, but not as the primary passer without an injury to Joe Flacco. In some ways, the selection was curious due to all of the effort put forth to improve Flacco’s weapons. Jackson really could be on a two-year track to replace the veteran rather than in 2019 as many suspect. The contract out comes following the ’19 season, suggesting gamers have nothing to worry about with Jackson in the upcoming fantasy year.
Baltimore had tried to land receiver Ryan Grant from Washington, though a medical condition nixed the deal. He went on to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Ravens opted to sign restricted free agent Willie Snead to an offer sheet that went unmatched by New Orleans. He was remarkably consistent and production over the first two years of his career, but a falling out of favor with Sean Payton in 2017 led to a forgettable 8-catch season. The 25-year-old will attempt to jump-start his career and could prove to be a sly addition.
Fantasy football outlook
In the first pass at addressing the value, we said this of Crabtree:
Both of those numbers are more than reasonable expectations as minimums for Crabtree in his first season with the Ravens. Should he find the end zone somewhere around his recent average of eight per season, Crabtree would check in as a WR2 by year’s end. The safer way to find out is by adding him as a third receiver and letting him outplay his draft placement. Translation: Don’t reach for Crabtree based on past results.
He remains the premium fantasy option in this passing game, but with limited expectations. As a WR3, the risk is mitigated. In most situations, with such a deep class of wideouts, gamers won’t have to treat him as a No. 2 anyway.
Brown’s value has become shakier, though. He was originally a low-risk roster-filler. It would be a tough sell to suggest he’s draftable at this stage. Perhaps he carves out enough of a role to have DFS utility or spot-play value in deep traditional formats.
Like Brown, Snead has not been drafted, on average, in setups with 12 teams and 16-man rosters. The Ravens will spread the ball around, and limitations from both the system and quarterback will keep this unit’s fantasy totals suppressed.