The Baltimore Ravens first team defensive unit is done for the preseason after manhandling the Buffalo Bills this weekend. They enter the regular season without having allowed a point in any of their nine drives against the Bills, Dolphins, and Redskins.
From the look of the Joe Flacco-less offense, they might have to continue that trend to win any games this year. Ryan Mallett has been inconsistent filling in for the injured starter. First-year quarterback Josh Woodrum didn’t do much with his opportunity to threaten Mallett’s role, although he did hit Taquan Mizzell for the go-ahead touchdown late in the game.
The running game has struggled all preseason. Terrance West managed to put up 17 yards on five carries this week. Overall, the offense accounted for 114 first-half yards which barely offset the 110 yards they gave up on ten penalties. Despite their offensive woes, the Ravens are 3-0 in the preseason.
Baltimore’s best scoring threat, kicker Justin Tucker, tried to make a tackle and wound up taking a blow to his neck. Things were quiet on the Ravens’ sideline until the NFL’s most accurate kicker passed concussion tests and was cleared to keep playing.
What did we learn?
Baltimore really, really needs Joe Flacco’s back to heal. Not only are they struggling to move the ball with Mallett at the helm. It is also difficult to gauge if any of the young wide receivers vying for roster spots behind Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman are any better than they have looked so far.
Flacco will not play in the fourth preseason game, but coach John Harbaugh is adamant that he will be back to face the Cincinnati Bengals in their season opener.
We also do not know who wins the wide-open competition for the third RB slot in Baltimore. Given the recent injury woes of West and Woodhead, whoever it is could be a worthy handcuff.
Hopefully, Joe Flacco’s back will hold up enough to make him a streaming option later in the year. He should not be drafted by anybody.
With Kenneth Dixon headed for IR, the starting running back job belongs to Terrance West, with Danny Woodhead also playing a big role. Woodhead is drafting one spot ahead of West in the seventh round as RB36. He is probably worthier of that slot than West at this point, but Harbaugh said he really wanted to run first this year. So, despite his mediocre preseason, West is not a horrible choice in the mid-30s, either.
Jeremy Maclin’s release from Kansas City’s wide receivers-optional offense has landed him in an uncertain situation with Baltimore. A healthy Flacco could make Maclin’s ADP of WR38 a great value. Wallace finished as the WR24 last season in the lead role we all assume is Maclin’s. I am not sure how Wallace feels about that as he comes off the typical draft board as a WR53 in later rounds.
The question mark on Flacco’s back makes this a call you might try not to make. But I think they both offer a higher upside than downside and would take either as my third or fourth wide receiver in the WR30-40 range.
Those other fantasy guys
Baltimore usually gets some receiving value from their tight ends, but Nick Boyle and Benjamin Watson are not seeing any interest on the draft boards. The only tight end to catch a pass against Buffalo was Larry Donnell, who has a shot as a third tight end if Harbaugh only carries five wide receivers. But I’m still not drafting any of them.
Justin Tucker might not get enough work to make his accuracy matter much. On the other hand, drives may die close enough to turn extra points into field goals. His top three ADP is fully understandable.
Baltimore picked up some good free agent defenders. Their preseason success might carry over to the regular season, but remember that they can’t stop playing after three or four series anymore. An inept offense will leave them on the field for a long time. I also noticed that while no one scored against them, they also did not record a turnover. There are ten safer defenses, which is probably why the Ravens DST is coming off the boards at D/ST11-12 so far.
So… that’s that.
Baltimore has a lot of questions, but they also have a veteran coach and strong defense to give their real-life fans hope. But they are not providing too many safe bets for my fantasy team, so who cares?
They bear watching as you never know who will step up during the year. If you can’t bear to watch, let us do it for you. Just check back at RealSport all year for updates and advice.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?