The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – Bills – Vikings – Cardinals – Saints – Eagles – Colts
Team Needs: OLB, WR, CB
Projected Top Three Picks:
First Round- Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee
Second Round- Curtis Samuel, WR Ohio State
Third Round- Roderick Johnson, OT Florida State
The Baltimore Ravens find themselves in a tough spot entering the 2017 draft. They are on the verge of needing a rebuild, but they still have enough talent to compete. Ozzie Newsome will undoubtedly fill the weak spots on this team to hopefully propel them into the playoffs again. With their first pick in the draft, look for the Ravens to grab Derek Barnett to shore up the pass rush. Barnett is an ultra-talented defensive end who plays with a high motor. He can get after the quarterback (he holds the school record for sacks over Reggie White), as well as play the run above average. Personally, I think on game day, he is every bit as talented as Myles Garrett, and to be able to get this type of player at this spot in the draft will be a steal. He will help to maintain this defensive unit as one of the top choices in Fantasy.
In the second round, the Ravens should go after Curtis Samuel to add depth to the wide receiver position after the retirement of Steve Smith. Samuel has the athleticism to excel in this league, but his route running and hands could play a factor in his playing time early on. He will likely find a spot on the depth chart as the Ravens WR3/WR4 in 2017. He may hold value in dynasty formats, but in seasonal leagues, he will hold little to no value for 2017.
Joe Flacco had a bounce-back season in 2016, as he was back to looking poised in the pocket, while exceeding the 4,000-yard mark again. The pieces are in place for Flacco to make some hay in Fantasy, but the balanced nature of this offense could hold him back. He has a long way to go to be considered as a Fantasy starting quarterback, but drafting him as your QB2 and playing the matchups if your QB1 is not a stud would not be a bad move this year.
The receiving options for the Ravens leave a lot to be desired, as Mike Wallace is the lead option in the attack. Wallace tends to be a very streaky player and is hard to trust in your lineups at times. But being the WR1 for Baltimore, he will see plenty of targets in 2017. His value is that of a WR3 in drafts, so you should be able to get him at a reasonable price. A couple of the other options in the passing game are the over-hyped Breshad Perriman and oft-injured Dennis Pitta. Perriman, if anything, is a late-round flier in drafts, but he should be a waiver wire guy. Pitta would be a nice target at tight end if you forgo drafting any early on and instead prefer to stream this position.
With the suspension of Kenneth Dixon, newly acquired Danny Woodhead will be given the chance to be the lead dog of this running game for the first month of the season. Coming off an ACL injury, Woodhead may start the reason a bit slow, but we all know what he is capable of once healthy. Woodhead is the perfect back to fit into the Ravens running game with his ability to sneak between the tackles as well as catch passes out of the backfield. The signing kills the potential for Dixon in the short term for the 2017 season, as Woodhead has fringe RB2/RB3 potential. Look for Fantasy owners to jump on Woodhead sometime in the sixth or seventh rounds of drafts. Despite missing time, Dixon still has all the potential to finish as a Top 25 RB, and if he comes back and plays with a chip on his shoulder, he could very well be that type of player. I’m am a big fan of his game, as he can carry the load as a runner, has great lateral quickness and is great in the open field catching balls out of the backfield. It’s all on Dixon to show once he returns, though, as Woodhead will not give this job up easily. If your running back depth looks solid at the top, don’t be afraid to grab Dixon as your RB4. You’ll thank me later.
Passing Offense- 256.3 YPG (12th)
Rushing Offense- 91.4 YPG (28th)
Points Per Game- 21.4 PPG (21st)
Top Fantasy Performers:
QB- Joe Flacco, 231 points
RB- Terrance West, 124 points
WR- Mike Wallace, 124 points
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