Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the first quarter in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s face it – the Baltimore Ravens aren’t widely considered to be an offensive fantasy football powerhouse. Joe Flacco is relegated to permanent QB2 status. We don’t have a clue what tight end will start at the moment. You’ve got an aging Steve Smith and an unknown (and a little raw) rookie at wide receiver. It’s basically Justin Forsett and little else, right?
Maybe not. There’s no question that Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman (the presumed starters) are undervalued in fantasy football at the moment. Smith’s current ADP is 40.3 (40th WR and 107 overall), and Perriman is right behind him at 43.5 (43rd WR, 112 overall). Ahead of them are a bumper crop of other rookies and lots of unknown/currently injured commodities.
It’s not like Flacco is a slouch after throwing for 3,986 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. That production has to go somewhere, and many feel like Marc Trestman will get him over the 4,000 yard mark for the first time in his career. Trestman has a long history of producing productive quarterbacks and wide receivers, sometimes out of mediocre talent.
So the Ravens are sure to have at least one 1,000 yard receiver, but which one will that be? Last year only Steve Smith crested that mark after receiving 130 targets and turning them into 79 receptions for 1,065 yards and 6 TD’s. The problem is, he wasn’t that efficient, dropped eight passes, and slowed down as the season wore on.
Enter Breshad Perriman, who has some drop concerns of his own. He replaces Torrey Smith, the Ravens #1 wide receiver until last season, when his inefficiencies (and arguably lack of interest) caused his target total to dip to 89 (he dropped 11 passes). Smith turned that into 49 receptions, 767 yards, and a whopping 11 touchdowns.
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All that means that Flacco likes his wide receivers. 63% of his touchdowns and 46% of his passing yards came from the aforementioned two starting wideouts. Now, you might see an uptick in running back and tight end receptions in 2015, you may declare. I fully expect Justin Forsett to see more action in the passing game, but the tight end position is a huge question mark at the moment.
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The Ravens have also never been keen on using third receivers either, so unless one of them beats out Perriman for a starting job, don’t expect to see much of Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, or Marlon Brown on offense.
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So both Perriman and Smith seem to be a steal at their current 9th round average. It really boils down to what you believe in more. Is Smith finished, destined to see his snaps cut back this season and his role reduced? Or is he set for an even bigger role with no other obvious proven players behind him? Is Perriman too raw to start and set only to serve as a situational deep threat, or is he the next Julio Jones?
Smith is probably the safer pick, while Perriman oozes with upside. For the meager price of a 9th round pick, you can either grab solid bench depth/bye week replacements or an absolute steal that could put you over the top in your league. Either way, you can’t really lose at that price.
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