Despite a turbulent 2017 Marty Mornhinweg was retained as the Ravens offensive coordinator. For fantasy purposes that is a frustrating development. Rarely has Mornhinweg had an absolute target hog within his scheme. Not since he was the head coach for the 2-14 2001 Lions has a pass catcher on his watch received more than 125 targets (Johnnie Morton 144 targets). In 2014, Eric Decker came closest to being a hog, having absorbed 115 targets (40 more than Jeremy Kerley) while Mornhinweg served the as OC for the Jets. As offensive coordinator in Baltimore, last season Mike Wallace led the pack with balmy 92 Targets.
There is a little bit of goodness in these types of distribution. It should give multiple faces a chance to find or develop their niche within the scheme. However, it is tough to imagine anybody not named Michael Crabtree leading the team in targets.
This scheme will count heavily count on the rushing attack to dictate the game flow. Many experts expect the Ravens to be a middling team, so a 50/50 split is the likelier scenario.
After falling out with the Saints last year, Willie Snead looks to revitalize his career. A suspension (personal conduct) cost Snead the first three games of 2017. The Saints offensive staff forgot about him. Even down the stretch (and in the playoffs) New Orleans gave Austin Carr snaps over Snead. Snead profiles as a slot player. The Ravens may decide that Snead gives them a better chance to win at the “Z” than Breshad Perriman who’s fifth-year option was recently declined. Before 2017 Snead had back-to-back seasons with at least on 100 targets and 895 yards.
No matter what uniform Michael Crabtree is wearing he has always had a rapport with his QB. The question in Baltimore is will be Lamar Jackson or Joe Flacco that he becomes comfortable with first. In San Francisco Crabtree never truly excelled with Alex Smith. However with Colin Kaepernick at helm he performed like a legitimate WR1. In Oakland Crabtree annually (almost always weekly as well) out targeted Amari Cooper. Now I understand this is King Crab’s first year in Baltimore. However it is plausible that whichever QB develops a trustworthy relationship with him first could win the job. You may make think that last statement is ludicrous but Crabtree can truly be the throttle of any passing offense.
John Brown may be the exact answer for the slot. Past deep threats, Mike Wallace and Torrey Smith were outside field stretchers. Brown is likely in store for a limited/significant splash play role. Baltimore seems to use small WRs in space on outs, comebacks and flat routes. Brown is not that type of player. He signed a one-year contract, and he is already 28 years old. In three of his four NFL seasons he has failed to record a catch percentage higher than 54%. Brown has also failed to surpass his 2015 reception total (65) in the two following seasons combined. Bravo and kudos to you if you had the foresight to sell Brown after what was likely to be his only 1,000-yard receiving season.
If you label Breshad Perriman a bust what does that make Kevin White? As was previously mentioned in the Snead paragraph, Perriman may be in the doghouse for good in Baltimore. Perriman seemed to be on the cusp of breaking out after his 33/499/3 in 2017. He is the son of former NFL WR, and he looked destined to expound on father Brett successes. Unfortunately, 2017 saw Breshad drop to just 10/77/0. He also saw his catch percentage decline from an already shaky 50% in 2016 to 28.6% in 2017 (and you thought Zay Jones 36.5% was abysmal). In 2017 Perriman, who should function as the deep threat saw just 11 of 35 total targets on deep routes (he caught 00.00% of them). Maybe he will shock us all in 2018. However, the Ravens brought in three free agent WRs and attempted to sign a few more. They also drafted two WRs and two TEs.
Chris Moore had a small fan base within the dynasty community. You might be hard-pressed to find anyone admits their love for him now. Moore caught 18 of 38 targets (47.4%) for 248 yards and 3 TDs in 2017. His modest success and the 4th round investment the Ravens made in him should be encouraging. However, the Ravens brought in three free agent WRs and attempted to sign a few more. They also drafted two WRs and two TEs. At the very least Moore does have 20 career kick returns. That may aid him in making the final 53-man roster.
Last August the Ravens liked and were excited about a 5-foot-10/170 pound rookie named Tim White. He was a return specialist at Arizona State. White also caught 50 passes in each of his two seasons with Sun Devils. A mid-August thumb injury forced White to the surgery table, and he spent the season on IR. Baltimore had hoped White could make the team as the fifth or sixth WR. Last year was last year and only time will tell how much allegiance the Ravens will have towards the former UDFA. I will not be holding my breath.
There is “jump out the gym” Alshon Jeffery-like potential with Jaleel Scott. There have also been some Kelvin Benjamin/Michael Floyd comparisons. One thing is certain, Scott can go up and get that ball. It is possible you might have thought the same thing about the 2016 WR Prospect from Cal Kenny “high point ninja” Lawler. You have your doubts and rightfully so that Scott may not pan out. Scott did not qualify academically to play big-time college football out of high school. So he had to claw his way to New Mexico State via junior college. He proved his worth in 2017 with 76/1079/9 (14.2 YPC). Scott can be that kind of difference maker in Baltimore, but don’t expect much from him in year one. Instead, you should slowly and quietly buy low on him throughout the season. Brown and Perriman are both set for free agency, and Snead is a plausible cut after 2018. It should open the door up for Scott to see a fantasy-worthy role.
After producing 41/620/5 (15.1 YPC) in as a sophomore, Jordan Lasley dropped 69/1264/9 (18.3 YPC) as a junior in 2017. What was even more amazing is that Lasley played in two fewer games his junior at UCLA. I guess a healthy Josh Rosen makes a big difference. The 6-foot-1 200 pound Lasley is aggressive enough versus press man coverage and he forces himself deep very quickly. His eight bench reps did not impress at the combine, but his 4.50 40-time was redeeming. Lasley has a chance to grow into that deep threat player that Ravens always seem to have on the roster. He had incredible chemistry with Rosen in college. Hopefully, he can develop along Lamar Jackson and be a field stretcher.
Every off-season teams grab a few camp bodies to fill out their rosters. The 28-year old former 3rd round pick (68th overall) by the Texans DeVier Posey is one of “those” players. Posey hasn’t played an NFL snap since 12-14-2014. So I am not sure you should consider him at all for any purpose whatsoever. In fact, his mention here merely is out of respect.
Quincy Oludaware Adeboyejo is currently listed as already questionable for the season opener after having surgery to repair an upper-leg muscle. The 6-foot-3/195 pound Ole Miss product produced 106/1454/11 (13.7 YPC) in 38 college games. Adeboyejo was a longshot to make a significant NFL impact, and as for now, things remain the same.
Janarion Grant is 5-foot-11/170 pound return specialist. The UDFA is super shifty and he a chance to impress the Raven Brass at this summer’s rookie mini-camp. In a perfect world, somebody may have Tyreek Hill like aspirations for Grant. I also felt some of the same things then when I watched De’Anthony Thomas at the collegiate level. Grant can be an exploitative mismatch cog in any scheme. In addition to his eight career return TDs, Grant scored six offensive TDs on just 135 touches while at Rutgers. If your league rewards for return yards Grant is someone to add to your watch list. Unfortunately, Grant had only 99 receptions in 45 college games and a bland YPC of 10.7.