Summer Sleeper: Baltimore Ravens

Bruce Matson

We begin our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.

To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:

  • Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
  • Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
  • Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.

Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Willie Snead is going to spring up.  Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.

The Baltimore Ravens finished the 2016 regular season with an 8-8 record, placing second in the AFC North. The team had an up-and0down season that resulted in them missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Baltimore led the league with 679 pass attempts while placing just 12th in the league with 4,100 passing yards. Joe Flacco’s 6.4 yards per attempt and the erratic play from some of the receivers took some of the blame for the team’s inconsistent passing production.

The Ravens experienced a lot of changes to their receiving corps in the off-season. Steve Smith retired at the end of the 2016 season. Kamar Aiken signed a $2.6 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. Dennis Pitta was released from the team after dislocating his hip during organized team activities. With all the departures from the Ravens roster, the team shook things up by signing Jeremy Maclin to a two year $11 million contract.

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Michael Campanaro, WR

Category: Deep Sleeper

The Ravens drafted Campanaro in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He went to college at Wake Forest where he caught 229 passes for 2,506 yards and 14 touchdowns during his four-year collegiate career. His senior season was his most impressive as he mounted 67 catches for 803 yards and six touchdowns in just eight games. Injuries impacted his junior and senior seasons, limiting his potential output.

He started receiving some attention during the Senior Bowl due to his fierce competitive play in the televised practices. The positive energy carried over to the combine where he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash. His 6.77 three cone, 39-inch vertical jump and 20 reps on the bench press all rank in the 75th percentile or higher amongst all wide receiver prospects. Due to his 5’9’’ and 192-pound frame he profiles as a slot receiver, but his athleticism should make him very tough for linebackers and nickel corners to cover. He’s compact, quick, and fast which is the recipe for success for NFL slot receivers. Players with this type of an athletic profile are the ones you need to keep an eye on, because they can breakout at anytime during their career.

Like in college, injuries have plagued his career. He missed multiple games during his rookie season due to an injured hamstring and the following year he was placed on injured reserve due to herniating a disc. He spent most of his 2016 season on injured reserve and the practice squad. On April 6, 2017 the Ravens signed him to a one year $1.2 million contract. The contract provides the notion that the team values his talent, even though he spent most of his time on the injury report during the last three seasons. He caught 12 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown since 2014. Most teams would’ve cut him by now, but the Ravens must be very fond of him, considering they are willing to keep him around for at least another training camp.

Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman are currently slotted ahead of him on the depth chart and he will battle Chris Matthews, Chris Moore, Kenny Bell and Vince Mayle for a spot on the roster. He is the only prototypical slot receiver on the roster, which will give him an edge because he will provide a different dynamic compared to what’s currently on the team. If he can play well and remain healthy during training camp, he could earn a spot on the 53-man roster where he could receive a chance to play a decent portion of the snaps as the team’s slot receiver. From there he has the potential to become a fantasy relevant asset in PPR leagues.

Baltimore’s high volume passing attack presents a lot of excitement for some of the receivers on the roster. If he can carve out a role with the team, Campanaro could be one of those receivers who will receive an added boost from the substantial passing volume. If he gets the chance to operate out of the slot, then he could become one of Flacco’s go-to wide receivers. Another thing to keep in mind, the team no longer has Dennis Pitta on the roster and doesn’t have an elite pass catch at tight end, so Campanaro might be able to fill the void by operating out of the slot.

Before he can ever become a fantasy relevant asset, he must prove to the team that he can stay healthy and have a stellar performance during training camp. The team doesn’t have much invested in him, making him an easy cut candidate if he doesn’t perform during the preseason or suffers another serious injury. He needs to prove to the team that he can be reliable because this could be his last chance at making an NFL roster.

He currently has an APD of 236.00, making him on average the 104th wide receiver off the board in most startup drafts. At that price he is literally free, and he’s more than likely sitting on the waiver wire in most leagues waiting to be picked up. He’s worth rostering in deeper formats, because he could garner some buzz during training camp, creating a small market in your league for his services. It’s best to roster him now and pay absolutely zero than wait for something to happen and have to pay a little bit to acquire him. Other than a wasted roster spot, there’s nothing to lose if he flops, considering that you spent absolutely nothing to add him to your team. He has a lot of potential and he’s absolutely worth drafting in the last few rounds of a startup draft to finish off the backend of your bench. Add him to your watch list if you don’t have enough room on your roster to snag him off waivers.

Campanaro will probably never finish a season as a top ten wide receiver, but he is talented enough to become a decent flex-play in PPR leagues. The high volume passing offense in Baltimore has the potential to elevate his stock if he gets the opportunity to play a considerable amount of snaps in the slot. He’s worth stashing to see what happens through the off-season.

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bruce matson
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