As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
For some reason, the Ravens are still seen as one of the perennial contenders of the AFC. I don’t really know why because they haven’t been good for a while. They haven’t been terrible either, but the team has made the playoffs just once (2014) since they won their last Super Bowl. They are in sore need of something to invigorate them. Maybe Ozzie Newsome (who has been an average team-builder for a while) leaving will give them a jolt.
The Ravens are nominally a 3-4 team but in reality are multiple. They switch between three and four man lines fairly often and the presence of Terrell Suggs allows them to blend some of the concepts. In the secondary, they favor split safeties who share responsibilities rather than designating strong and free.
There was some coaching turnover with Dean Pees “retiring” then joining the Titans but new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has worked for the team a long time and is unlikely to change the scheme significantly.
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It gets a little fuzzy here because of the Ravens multiple front philosophy. Willie Henry lines up very similarly to Brandon Williams but one was classified as and end last year whilst one was a tackle. This obviously has a knock-on effect on IDP production against peers which makes Henry an attractive option. His numbers are pedestrian for an end but good for a tackle. When selecting him, you need to be aware that he could easily be reclassified as an end.
Michael Pierce has no such concerns. He’s an out and out nose tackle. He’s a good player, but only valuable in DT-premium leagues for our purposes.
Brandon Williams is a name player and tends to get picked up in many IDP leagues where he probably shouldn’t be owned. As you can see from the snap counts here, the Ravens tend to rotate bodies on the line and it’s just going to be really hard to produce enough personal statistics playing limited snaps in an inside role to complete with true edge rushers.
C.J. Mosley is an elite IDP and should continue to be. He’s locked in for playing time when healthy and has been efficiently productive every year of his career – bar the season when Zach Orr played in the plum job.
Onwuasor is not going to be a star any time soon but he’s fairly reliable as a depth option in deeper leagues.
Kenny Young will get a lot of hype, but I don’t see a starter and he was only a fourth-round pick. Certainly not any time soon.
The Ravens are fairly stacked on the edge which is a great place to be. Unfortunately, it makes it very hard to work out who is the player to own. I’ll be watching this very carefully in camp and through preseason to try and get as much clarity as possible.
Suggs actually led the unit in playing time in 2017 but I’d be surprised if that didn’t drop a little bit. Judon was the best player of the group last season and I’m hoping he can push on a bit. Getting close to double-digit sacks would make him extremely effective in big-play leagues.
Jimmy Smith is one of the highest paid corners in the NFL. I’m surprised every time I see that pop up. He counts almost $16m against the cap in 2018. He is a good player when healthy though and his physical style is good for IDP purposes. I think Brandon Carr will be the next option outside but I’m hoping Marlon Humphrey can develop enough to secure playing time too. With Smith being 29 and Carr 31 the team really need him (and fellow Alabama alumnus Anthony Averett) to push.
Overall this is a position group in flux and I’m mostly avoiding them where I can. They might make some good streaming options in-season but I don’t believe in any of them as good season-long producers.
I mentioned earlier that the Ravens play a two-deep shell. In 2017, that meant that that neither Jefferson nor Weddle were particularly productive. I expect the same thing to happen in 2018. Let other owners grab them under the impression that they’re both as effective as their glory days on other teams.
DeShon Elliott was a hot name in the draft but landed in a bad spot. I think he’ll be brought on very slowly given the Ravens like to rely on their veterans. I also think his playing style is misleading. His bog body screams box safety but he didn’t play like that in Texas and that won’t be his job in Baltimore.
C.J. Mosley should be a top linebacker again. The spectre of his 2016 season (just 56 solo tackles from 14 starts) is still fresh for me but hopefully the team learnt their lesson. Any Mosley owners should be sitting tight and feeling happy with him.
Eric Weddle was a star in his younger days but is now 33 years old and playing in a scheme far less beneficial for personal production. Less-astute IDP players will still think he’s a good asset but I’m avoiding him like the plague. If you can get anything for him in a trade then do it. I’d happily accept a late round pick and try to find a waiver wire replacement.
I’ll say Willie Henry in the hopes that he retains his DT allocation. I do not tink he has elite league-wining potential. Or even that he’ll be a week-winner more than once a year. But I like his consistent production. In leagues that start two or more DTs, he’s very good value.
The Ravens defense is a little bit pedestrian these days. When you challenge people on why they think the Ravens are such a good team they often say “the defense is great even though the offense is bad”. And I guess it’s true. This is a mostly reliable, tough unit. But I don’t think it’s close to being one of those championship-level attacking defenses we’ve seen recently in Seattle, Denver and Jacksonville. As a result, there are not many starters here for IDP purposes. Just a lot of players who are solid enough to not be weak links but not many I’m super excited about as individual stars.
Thanks for reading.
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