Between players retiring and free agency taking players away, the Ravens find themselves in a tough spot in 2017. Key playmakers like Steve Smith, Zachary Orr, Elvis Dumervil and a pair of O-linemen in Rick Wagner and Jeremy Zuttah are all off the team, and several of their replacements aren't entirely clear. With an offense devoid of an obvious playmaker and a defense that finally just got an infusion of young talent, the outlook for the Ravens isn't exactly brimming with sunshine and rainbows.
Joe Flacco remains the focal point of the Ravens offense. He managed to post a career-high in passing yards last year despite returning from a torn ACL, but added just 20 touchdowns. The Ravens are hoping a full year with Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator will help Flacco score more often, but that will likely hinge on the success of receivers Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace. With Steve Smith no longer playing football, the Ravens hope Perriman takes a big step forward in his career while Maclin and Wallace provide stability and veteran experience. For better or for worse, those three will be counted on to carry the passing game.
The running game is just as much of a quandary. Terrance West went from afterthought to leading rusher for the Ravens in 2016, but he had only 774 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Kenneth Dixon's rookie year didn't go as planned but he finished strong, then got suspended for violating the league's PED policy. He'll miss the first four games of the season. The addition of pass-catching running back Danny Woodhead will make the Ravens run game all the more frustrating for their opponents -- and for Fantasy owners.
Do the Ravens have a bona fide Fantasy superstar for your Fantasy roster? Nope. Not one will get picked within the first five rounds. But that doesn't mean the team should be avoided on Draft Day -- not when there are some mid- and late-round players worth peeping.
Sleeper: Breshad Perriman
Perriman's one of those receivers who is all about potential. He didn't play at all his rookie year because of a knee injury and got a late start last season for a different knee injury. But once he got involved he started to show why he was a first-round pick by the Ravens. He averaged 15.1 yards per catch, scored three times from 10-plus yards out and impressed with his size and speed. If he spends training camp refining his game, then he's a legit Fantasy sleeper knowing he'll be given every opportunity to be the "big, fast, physical stallion" that coach John Harbaugh wants him to be. A Round 9 or 10 price tag on Perriman isn't steep at all.
Bust: Jeremy Maclin
If Perriman doesn't work out, Maclin will easily take his spot. But that doesn't guarantee a ton of statistics. Added in June after a surprise release from the Chiefs, Maclin should assimilate into the Ravens offense quickly given his familiarity with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. That's a positive, but it's never easy to buy into a receiver who was cut for performance issues, which is reportedly why Andy Reid & Co. let him go. True, he went off for 87 catches, 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015, but groin injuries sabotaged his 2016 season (44 catches, 536 yards, two touchdowns). Who's to say he'll regain his form? He also is with a Ravens squad that has rarely developed great Fantasy receivers, usually because the receivers they have are retreads or underperformers. In nine years, Joe Flacco has developed a 1,000-yard receiver just five times, and four of them were under 1,100 yards. Flacco also tends to spread the ball around -- only deep threat Torrey Smith has recorded more than seven scores with the Ravens quarterback. A lot of people will chase Maclin because of what he's done, but taking him before Perriman in Round 9 or 10, who has way more upside given his size and skill set, is a mistake.
Bounce-Back Candidate: Danny Woodhead
When the team signed Danny Woodhead, they tipped their hand. Woodhead is known as one of the best pass-catching backs in football, and Baltimore's rushers caught over 110 passes in 2016. The system caters to Woodhead's strengths, so don't be surprised if he winds up being the Ravens' most productive running back. That's not to say Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon won't have a role -- they'll fight for snaps on running downs. West will have a four-game start on the suspended Dixon. But those guys will get taken in Round 8 or later and are better targets for depth and Zero RB purists. Woodhead, with over 1,000 total yards and eight-plus scores in his last two seasons when he was healthy, will get the most attention. The prime time to take Woodhead is in Round 7 in standard leagues and Round 5 or 6 in formats where catches count.