As part of the premium content package, we’re unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all Spring and Summer. This year, we also have a follow-up to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite pieces – the dynasty sleeper. We continue our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens.
Every year brings us the same question in regards to Flacco. Is this the year he breaks out and becomes more than just a decent QB2, allowing us all to go whacko for Flacco? Every year brings us the same answer – nope, not this season.
Realistically, Flacco is hardly a slouch. After all, he’s posted 13,816 passing yards and 80 touchdowns in just four seasons. His at 80:46 touchdown to interception percentage isn’t awful, either. Simply put, he’s a good quarterback in both reality and fantasy.
So, what’s the problem?
Much like many young quarterbacks before him, expectations in fantasy circles seem to be simply too high for Flacco. After four years in the league, it looks like he’s destined to be best suited as a high-end QB2, which isn’t terrible. Players like Flacco are essential to be on a roster, but they’re just not true building blocks for dynasty leagues. After all, his point total last season was anywhere from 50% to 60% of someone like Aaron Rodgers in most leagues. While nobody expects him to put up the kind of insane stats that A-Rod did last season, it’s tough to sit back and say you’re set at the position if he’s your QB1 – that’s just a ton of points to try to make up when you stack them against the game’s elite signal callers.
There are also some questions about his contract situation since he’s seemingly going to play out the last year of his rookie deal without an extension, but it’s likely the Ravens either sign him to a long term deal or franchise him next year.
All that being said, Flacco is a bit of a value in some league circles right now. In our recent ADP study of quarterbacks, he was being taken as the QB22, right around unproven players like Matt Flynn, Ryan Tannehill, Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder and even Tim Tebow. If you’re looking for a good value, he may be one in a start-up draft.
In the end, Flacco is a durable quarterback and a great player to have for bye weeks or as a decent injury replacement for your elite quarterback. Expecting him to be anything more than a very low-end QB1 or high-end QB2 seems to be asking too much. If you have him slated to be more than that, you better have a great supporting cast to carry you when he has a bad week.
We’re on the record as being pretty big fans of Taylor. After all, it’s not every day that a perennial playoff team like the Ravens completely dismisses adding a quality veteran quarterback for insurance not once, but twice in successive years – that says a lot about what they think of Taylor.
The cut against Taylor is his height (6’1″), but if he continues to show promise, it’s inevitable he’ll get his chance somewhere down the line, even if it’s not in Baltimore. It would be fair to peg him as a dynasty sleeper, but it would take a catastrophic injury to Flacco for him to see real value any time soon. He should be viewed in dynasty circles as a player like Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett or any other quarterback who finds himself on the bench, but has real starting caliber talent.
If you have a deep roster, Taylor is worth reading up on.
I tried to come up with something really positive to say about Painter after looking over his performance from last season with Indianapolis. I came up with two things. First, he didn’t really get injured too badly. Second, he seemingly has good hair.
That’s about it.
The signing of Painter does nothing but solidify the pecking order for the position with Flacco first and Taylor squarely second. Painter’s biggest contribution would likely come in the form of a donation to “Locks of Love” rather than entertaining the NFL viewing audience on Sundays. At this point, it would be a surprise if he makes the team – he should be nowhere near yours.
You could say he’s pretty good.
Over his last three seasons in Baltimore, Rice has exploded for 3,923 rushing yards and 1,962 receiving yards on a robust 217 catches. Throw in 29 total touchdowns and you have the epitome of a stud running back. You can make a strong case for Rice being the number one player in all of dynasty leagues, worthy of the first overall selection in a start-up draft. After all, there are few players in the league who have the explosive ability of Rice, but still have youth on their side. At just 25 years of age, Rice should have several elite seasons left in him.
One of the only real perceived concerns about investing so much in Rice has to do with his contract situation. If he doesn’t sign a long-term deal by July 16th, he’ll end up playing under his $7.7 million tender offer. You have to figure the Ravens and Rice find some middle ground, but teams have been scared off ever since CJ2K started looking more like CJ1K after getting his payday. Rice is the heart and soul of the Ravens, so you have to figure it gets worked out in the end – these things typically play themselves out.
The only other reason not to invest so highly in Rice (other than just thinking more highly of someone like Arian Foster or LeSean McCoy at running back) is the longevity of the position. While we should be able to expect another 4-5 seasons of elite level production, is that worth more than a decade you could get from someone like Calvin Johnson? It’s a tough call for a dynasty owner, but one many would be jealous at having the chance to make.
Pierce has been a hot commodity in rookie drafts this season, going as highly as the late second round in some drafts. We don’t have him ranked quite that high, but he did find himself in a good situation for his development. He needs to really work on his pass catching and blocking ability to be more than a just a “thunder” back in some type of future committee attack, but he should have the time to do just that.
If you’re drafting Pierce thinking he’ll be a massive goal line vulture and the heir apparent to Rice in Baltimore, that’s a really risky proposition. While he could steal some short yardage carries as soon as this season, it’s highly unlikely he has significant value early barring a significant injury to Rice. From a dynasty perspective, it’s tough to see him as the unquestioned future starter in Baltimore. There’s no doubt he has a chance, but he has a lot of work to do in the area of pass protection and catching ability to be more than a two-down back.
Right now, Pierce is a very good stash on a dynasty roster. If he can develop and become a more rounded runner, there could be some real value here. After all, he did score 27 touchdowns in a single season at Temple.
Just don’t go overboard.
Allen was a nice developmental stash in deep dynasty leagues, but the drafting of Pierce throws some cold water on his value. He’ll be in a competition with Pierce for backup duties, but he’ll have to really outplay him to win the job. Allen is a player to monitor over the Summer, but it would be tough to merit using any type of roster spot on him now.
For years, the Ravens have been searching high and low for a receiver who could stretch the field and make their offense more dynamic. They’ve tried countless players, young and old in an effort to finally make their receiving corps legitimate.
It looks like they’ve finally found their guy in Smith.
Smith was electric at times as a rookie, registering 50 catches for 841 yards and seven scores. Among rookies, his catch total was good for fifth, his yardage total good for third and his touchdowns tied for second. When you consider players like AJ Green and Julio Jones came out last season, that’s pretty impressive. While Green and Jones get all the press, Smith wasn’t far behind in many categories.
While he may not have the truly elite talent of those two aforementioned players, he still looked great at times last season. The only trouble with Smith was just that – he looked great at times. Of his 841 total receiving yards, 317 of them came in two games. While one could say that’s great because it showed he can take over in a game, it’s also a bit of a red flag. After all, nobody wants to rely on an incredibly inconsistent receiver week in and week out. If that was a key to winning, every team would want DeSean Jackson.
Smith will obviously have to continue working on his consistency, but he has tremendous upside. He can get open at will and just needs some time to truly work on his craft. The career of Smith could be very, very good in dynasty leagues and is one to covet.
Boldin’s stay in Baltimore has been a huge disappointment from a fantasy perspective. After averaging close to 86 catches, 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns in his last five years in Arizona, Boldin has only been able to produce a grand total of 121 catches, 1,724 yards and ten touchdowns in his two years with the Ravens.
Now 31, it seems that Boldin has reached the point in his career where he’s a very well paid possession receiver. He finds himself in an offense that’s not built around him and playing with a defense that doesn’t put the team in too many situations where they have to air it out for extended periods of time.
There was a time when Boldin was one of the most feared receivers in dynasty leagues. While he still has some value, those glory days have come and gone.
The former Indiana Hoosier’s rookie season was a mess as he battled a difficult recovery from a sports hernia surgery. Now he’ll need to battle Jacoby Jones and Tommy Streeter for a spot on the roster. Doss is flying completely under the radar in most dynasty leagues, but he shouldn’t be as he could develop into a nice slot receiver for the Ravens.
Keep an eye on Doss this offseason as he seems ready to finally make some noise in camp. If he can stay healthy, there could be some sneaky value here.
After constantly disappointing dynasty league owners in Houston, Jones moves on to Baltimore where he’s destined to continue disappointing dynasty owners. Anyone who has watched Jones knows that he has talent, but his inconsistency is maddening. It looks as if the Ravens will likely have him pegged for third receiver duties and special teams work this season. While that looks good on paper, Jones has never shown the ability to maintain any type of momentum in dynasty leagues.
Perhaps the light flips on for Jones this season, but I wouldn’t be counting on it.
In short, Streeter is a 6’5″, 220 pound specimen with 4.40 speed and an extremely raw skill set. Simply put, he needs about three years of seasoning in order to really play the game. While his potential is obvious, he simply hasn’t been coached well enough to really be counted on to contribute any time soon. From a dynasty perspective, that’s just fine.
The realistic hope with Streeter has to be that he’ll be able to really develop sitting behind some of the more seasoned receivers, then be able to step into a prominent role in a year or two. He could make some noise before that, but it shouldn’t be counted on.
We’ll feature Williams in our sleeper article that will accompany this team capsule later. Stay tuned!
Dickson showed some real promise last year as he followed up a quiet rookie campaign with 528 yards and five touchdowns on 54 catches. He doesn’t seem like a player who could ever truly be a dominant option, but you could do worse than Dickson as your TE2, that’s for sure.
Pitta started coming on a little late in the season, catching 13 passes in his last three games, including the playoffs. It seems like either Dickson or Pitta would have really established themselves as a viable option at this point, but neither really has taken the position and made it their own. That being said, Pitta is another young player who merits watching. It’s just tough to get too excited about the middle of the road options at tight end when you compare them with the elite options emerging at the position.
We’ll continue our team-by-team capsules with the Buffalo Bills up next.
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