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2016 IDP TEAM PREVIEW: Baltimore Ravens

It wasn’t that long ago that the Baltimore Ravens were as loaded with IDP-relevant talent as any team in the NFL. Defensive end Terrell Suggs (DNP) still had DL eligibility and was in his quarterback-terrorizing prime up front. Ray Lewis anchored the LB corps. Even free safety Ed Reed, while a big-play dependent fantasy option, occasionally put up big numbers.

That’s no longer the case. Suggs has been re-classified as a linebacker by most fantasy providers. Lewis has long since retired. And the Ravens have been searching for help in the back end since the day Reed left.

Still, the shelf isn’t completely bare.

Numbers in parentheses denote 2015 positional finish in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.

 

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Suggs lost DL eligibility in most leagues, in those where he is still eligible as a defensive lineman there’s the matter of the torn Achilles that wiped out his entire 2016 season. As WJZ-TV in Baltimore reported, Suggs was apparently eager to show the team his wheels are OK — so much so that he passed his conditioning test on the sly.

“Terrell Suggs, he’s coming back from the Achilles, so on his own, unbeknownst to anybody, he grabs the conditioning coach and runs the conditioning test [Saturday] and passes it,” Harbaugh said. “And we didn’t even make him do it.”

Suggs stated he isn’t putting a timetable on a return to action, but insisted that he’s “close.” It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that a 33-year-old coming off an Achilles tear is a risky fantasy bet. But two years ago Suggs posted 12 sacks and production that would have made him a top 5 defensive lineman. Add in a depressed asking price, and if Suggs does have DL eligibility in your IDP league there could be value there.

 

LINEBACKERS

Without question, the crown jewel of the Ravens IDPs is inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (LB11). In two seasons Mosley has averaged 125 total tackles and 3.5 sacks per year, finishing inside LB1 territory both times. Mosley’s stats were actually down a bit in 2015, but he told Garrett Downing of the team’s website he isn’t hearing talk of a “sophomore slump.”

“As far as stats, people can say that I had an off year or a sophomore slump,” Mosley said. “But I feel that I maintained my expectations personally. Stats are going to come and go, that’s not a big deal. But as long as you’re helping your teammates with the calls, making the right plays, not making mistakes, that’s really what it’s all about.”

Now, stats are all IDP owners really care about, but frankly we aren’t buying slump talk either. Mosley’s a productive, every-down player with uncertainty at the ILB slot next to him. He’s a top-10 fantasy option across all formats.

That uncertainty was created by the departure of veteran Daryl Smith (LB18), who is now in Tampa Bay. There’s a camp battle afoot between third-year pro Zach Orr (LB166) and rookie Kamalei Correa (DNP). Correa saw time with the first-team in OTAs, but Alexander Onushco of Fantasy Pros wrote his money’s on Orr emerging as the winner (and an IDP sleeper).

“Orr proved (on limited snaps) last year that he is capable of excelling next to Mosley,” Onushco said. “The ILB spot has proven to be productive in Baltimore, as Daryl Smith routinely posted 100+ tackles during his stint as the starter. If Orr wins the job, he could make for a sneaky good value as a weekly LB2.”

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome took steps to address the team’s revolving door in the back end of the secondary, signing Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle (DB81) in free agency. Despite an injury-marred 2015 that led to a messy departure from San Diego, Jon Lyons of Today’s Pigskin believes Weddle still has plenty left in the tank.

“In 2015, Weddle ranked 12th overall in safety grading by Pro Football Focus,” Lyons said. “Prior to that, he had ranked in the top ten every season he had been graded. Despite this slight downturn in overall ranking, he did have the second best coverage grade among safeties and could jump back into the top ten in overall rankings in a new environment or, at 31, simply have a better overall season in 2016.”

It’s also very possible Weddle could jump back into the top-15 among fantasy defensive backs — enough so that he’s a very intriguing late-round pick given the discount last year’s down season has made him available at.

As things stand today, Weddle will be flanked by Lardarius Webb (DB108), who is making the conversion from cornerback this year. The 30-year-old told Jake Lourim of The Baltimore Sun he’s looking forward both to the new spot and playing next to Weddle.

“I think we’re both more of a free safety, but we both can tackle, really good tacklers. So it’s just whatever the defense does,” Webb said. “I think it’ll be good, interchangeable players. We can do both. So that’s gonna kinda be our advantage this year, being able to do both.”

We’ve seen a few cornerbacks make a productive move to safety late in their careers of late, so Webb might just worth a late dart-throw in deeper IDP formats.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.