2017 Projections: Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens
In this series I will be using an internal version of the Projection Machine, to explore likely outcomes for offensive players on all 32 NFL teams. The Projection Machine employs a top-down approach that builds off of team-wide assumptions to develop expectations of offensive output for the coming season. I will be using staff averages to help guide the inputs underlying the projections. Check out this article for further information on the process used by the RovoViz team. All 2017 Baltimore Ravens projections are based on PPR scoring.
I followed alphabetical order while writing this series but skipped two teams; Baltimore and Indianapolis. Given the uncertainty surrounding the health of both team’s quarterbacks, I wanted to wait until I had as much information as possible. It looks like Joe Flacco will be ready to go in Week 1 or miss minimal time. This is assumed within the outlined projections.
The Ravens won eight games in 2016. Both Pythagorean win percentage and Vegas expect it to pick up one more in the coming season. Baltimore’s scoring margin per play has varied largely in the last four years; the team’s record has as well. This makes it a bit of a guessing game as to what we can expect for 2017. For this reason, I used a scoring margin of -0.70 which is a little higher than league average. The Ravens led the league in pass attempts last season and will continue to air it out while operating at a lightning-fast pace. Though the team’s pass and pace tendencies could match 2016 levels, I scaled them back to add a level of conservatism to our projection. Given these assumptions, the Projection Machine forecasts 633 passing and 400 rushing attempts.
|Scoring Margin||Pass Tendency||Pace Tendency|
|League 75th percentile||1.00||0.02||0.85|
|League 50th percentile||-1.25||-0.01||-0.85|
|League 25th percentile||-3.75||-0.04||-2.70|
|Ravens 2017 (Projection)||-0.70||0.05||2.50|
Room for Two Backs
The Ravens are going to air it out in 2017. This makes Danny Woodhead a popular play in PPR leagues. He’s excelled as a pass-catching back over the course of his career and is a serviceable rusher. Woodhead is 32 and coming off an ACL tear that ended his 2016 season in Week 2. He made it through only three games in 2014. While this is a cause for concern, he should see enough usage to justify his fringe RB2 ADP. Unlike Terrance West and Javorius Allen, Woodhead projects with a defined role and appears to be the least susceptible to competition. The staff average projects him with 26 percent of carries, a target share of 11 percent, and average efficiency.
West is projected as the team’s main rusher, but Allen could challenge him as the season plays out. The two share similar athletic profiles, though it’s hard to compare their college production as West played at Townson and Allen at USC. West produced just 0.2 more yards per attempt in 2016 and the two backs recorded negative fantasy points over expectation per attempt.1
West finished as RB23 last year and recorded enough on-field production to head into the season with the starting job in his grasp. The staff projects West with 44 percent of rushes, eight percent of targets, and modest efficiency. This leaves Allen with a rushing share of only 22 percent and a handful of targets. He’s expected to produce with modest efficiency.
The above projection of 163 points for West is in line with the staff average of 162 and standard deviation of 21. Woodhead is also pegged for 162 based on the staff average but has a standard deviation of 20. Allen is projected with 51 points and a standard deviation of 25.
Return of the Mac
Jeremy Maclin was one of the biggest disappoints of 2016. After being dumped by the Chiefs to free up cap space, he finds himself primed for a workload larger than he saw in his last two seasons in Kansas City. While the RotoViz staff doesn’t see him returning to the top of the WR rankings, he could finish 2017 as a WR2. This makes him a great value at his current ADP of WR40. His projections average a target share of 21 percent and assume average efficiency. Given the Ravens’ proclivity for the pass, this utilization will be enough to get him over the 130 target mark.
Mike Wallace will be the team’s WR2, with 18 percent of targets. Like Maclin, the staff expects him to outplay his ADP, but he doesn’t project as a guaranteed fantasy starter. However, Wallace was the WR24 last season, his first as a Raven. He’s averaged a season-ending rank of 24 since 2012, when removing his 2015 season in Minnesota, so it’s possible that the stuff is under-selling his range of outcomes. Breshad Perriman will be the Ravens’ third look at WR and is projected with 13 percent of targets.
The above projection is on the high end of Maclin’s likely outcomes. The staff composite averages 211 points with a standard deviation that places him between 198 and 224 fantasy points. Wallace’s average is 177 points with a standard deviation of 31. Perriman is estimated with 113 points and a standard deviation of 29.
Not Much Hope for Watson
In 2015, Ben Watson finished as TE7, playing with Drew Brees in New Orleans. But a repeat performance is more than unlikely. The staff projects him as the team’s starter with a target share of 11 percent; limiting his workload. He lacks the efficiency needed to overcome this and isn’t a particularly relevant TE option.
The staff composite places Watson at 108 points, with a standard deviation of 24.
Joe Flacco is Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco is a low-end QB2. He’s averaged 15 points per game over the last four years with a season-ending rank of QB20. He comes equipped with a low ceiling and rarely goes for 20 plus points in a given week.
The RotoViz staff is pessimistic on Flacco. With an average projection of 240 points and standard deviation of 10, he’s viewed as a fringe starter in 2QB and superflex leagues.
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- West’s FPOEPA was -0.02 and Allen’s -0.11. (back)