The Ravens Are TOO Unpredictable by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
I recently did a poll on Twitter asking the fantasy football community to fill in the blank…
In 2016, Baltimore’s waiver wire darling RB Buck Allen will _________________ .
(The four options were……)
1) be 2nd string to Forsett
2) spilt carries even
3) overtake Forsett early
4) too many Qs to draft…………(which won overwhelmingly.)
Last year, RB Justin Forsett was unable to duplicate his impressive 2014 season when he finished as the #8 running back with over 1500 total yards and 8 touchdowns. His 2015 run abruptly ended in Week 11 when he broke both bones in his forearm while playing against the Rams. Rookie Buck Allen took over running back duties and became a waiver wire darling. Now in 2016, Forsett is battling Allen for carries, Allen is battling West for carries, and West is battling Dixon for carries. The Twitter community is right…too many question marks to draft.
But the running back situation in Baltimore isn’t the only position with uncertainty. Let’s start off with the man who needs to be the leader for the offense, quarterback Joe Flacco. The Raven QB was lost for the season back in Week 11 of 2015, with a torn ACL and MCL so his health is already in question. Since being drafted in 2008, Flacco has been a competent quarterback for Baltimore, but he has only bested the top 15 once for QBs at a season’s end, and that was 2014 when he finished as the #14 QB. He has also never averaged 2 touchdowns passes per game in any season, and usually ends a season averaging only 1.3 touchdown passes per game.
The wide receivers for the Ravens are filled with ambiguity and unpredictability, starting with Steve Smith. Although one of toughest competitors in the games, Smith is still recovering from a “double rupture” of his Achilles last November. His availability for the start of the season is an unknown. Another dubious candidate for 2016 is Breshad Perriman, who suffered a partially torn ACL in June after sitting out all of his rookie season with a PCL tear. Mike Wallace is now with the Ravens, and has worked with the first-team offense but flunked his conditioning test on the first day of camp. Wallace believes he is a better receiver today than when he left Pittsburgh, but I believe that he will disappoint, just like he has for the past 3 NFL seasons. Kamar Aiken came on strong at the end of the 2015 season, but let’s be clear…his best games came without QB Joe Flacco, and if not for a flukey 48 TD “hail Mary” in Week 15 vs Kansas City, Aiken would not have topped 80 receiving yards in any game. Will Aiken have chemistry with Flacco this year if he is forced to be the #1 wide out in Baltimore? That is unclear and yet to be determined.
The tight ends for the Ravens are also problematic for fantasy football owners. TE Ben Watson signed with Baltimore after an incredibly successful season in New Orleans. Watson ended 2015 as the #7 tight end in the NFL. Prior to 2015, he was the #50 tight end in 2014, and #45 in 2013. It’s extremely doubtful that Watson’s resurgence will continue. Add Watson’s situation to an already crowded tight end depth chart and you have another unresolved Baltimore player position.
It’s odd to see the precarious Baltimore defense dropping year after year into mediocracy. In 2011, the Ravens had the 4th best defense in the NFL. In 2014, they had the 9th best, but in 2015 they were ranked 24th. Terrell Suggs tearing his Achilles last fall was obviously a huge blow to the defense, but like the rest of this swiss-cheese team, there are many holes to fill on defense. Key losses for the Ravens in 2016 were LB Courtney Upshaw, LB Daryl Smith, S Will Hil, and DE Chris Canty.
Perhaps the most dependable fantasy football player on the Ravens team is Justin Tucker, who ended 2015 as the #7 place kicker. This fact gives me very little comfort in drafting Baltimore Ravens on any of my fantasy football teams this year, and I am reluctant, skeptical, hesitant, suspicious, unconvinced, unclear, dubious, hazy, leery and apprehensive as whether you can win with many of them as well.