Before we get started, I want to explain the method to my madness when coming up with my own projections. I didn’t want to just throw numbers out there that sounded good in my head. So I thought about every other team in the NFL and what their offensive identities were over the last couple of seasons, researched how they finished statistically, and came up with three teams that I felt were similar to my belief of what the Ravens might try and emulate this season, and how they might finish statistically. I then took those teams, used their end of year stats to come up with an average (things such as passing attempts, target distribution, rushing attempt distribution, etc.), and used that as a starting point for determining touches per player (this was not the end all, be all for touches, I factored in a few other things, but a good jump off point nonetheless).
Also important to make clear is that these projections are based on the assumption that every player plays their role for 16 games. While I know that it’s unrealistic, I’m not here to predict injuries. Also, we won’t be covering #5/6 WR or #3 TE as they typically don’t produce any real value in the Ravens offense. Ok! Now that you understand how scientific these predictions actually are and realize that they are most likely 100 percent money, we can finally get started!
JOE FLACCO • QB
I’ve never been a Joe hater, yet I’m a realist, and he just hasn’t been good the past 5 seasons. But the ultimate motivator of men, money (I know it’s really Ray Lewis), will be in play for Joe for the first time since… he went bonkers in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl MVP? Nice! I’m sure he wouldn’t mind showing the front office of Baltimore that they made the wrong decision either. He has a heap of new weapons (pun intended), and I believe it’s one of the best groups he’s worked with in his career.
2017 Stats: 352 of 549 • 64.1 comp % • 3,141 yds • 18 TD • 13 INT
2018 Prediction: 332 of 527 • 63 comp % • 4,180 yards • 25 TD • 12 INT
ALEX COLLINS • RB
Collins burst onto the scene last season in week 2 after being signed to the practice squad a week prior. He had 7 carries for 42 yards in that game, but what he really did was open the eyes of the coaching staff and fans. I remember watching this game and thinking how impressive his blend of speed, power, and vision was. By week 5, he had earned the right to start the rest of the season at running back.
Collins was a savior of sorts, as he was clearly the best offensive player on the team. I try to imagine how bad this offense really could have been if it weren’t for this genius signing by Ozzie, but the thought of it is simply too much for one man to bear.
2017 Stats: 212 att • 973 yds • 6 TD • 36 trgts • 23 rec • 187 rec yds • 0 rec TD
2018 Prediction: 272 att • 1,278 yds • 8 TD • 27 trgts • 17 rec • 148 rec yds • 2 TD
MICHAEL CRABTREE • WR
Crabtree is exactly the player I felt the Ravens were gonna add this offseason when I did my research a few months back as to who might be available as a cap casualty. He has the kind of skillset that this offense really lacked in 2017.
One thing Crabtree does very well is finish drives. Of the 32 passes Oakland QBs threw into the end zone, 53% (17) went to Crabtree. With the exception of Steelers WR Antonio Brown, he’s the only receiver to post at least 8 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. His 25 touchdowns over that span ranks fifth most in the NFL. It’ll be nice to have so many big red zone targets for Joe to choose from for a change. I hope that he looks Crabtree’s way more often than not early and often. Play to his strengths early and let him build confidence with his new team, and that hopefully will translate to him looking like the guy he was in 2012. Back when he had 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and 9 touchdowns, and seemed destined to become a top ten receiver in this league.
2017 Stats: 101 trgts • 58 rec • 618 yds • 8 TD
2018 Prediction: 130 trgts • 73 rec • 959 yds • 13.1 ypr • 8 TD
JOHN BROWN • WR
I liked the signing of John Brown, and I liked it even more when Crabtree was added was signed later. They feel like a perfect compliment to one another, kind of like Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith were for each other. It’s an easy comparison to make. I can see the Ravens using Brown in a similar role to the one Torrey Smith played in his time with the team.
2017 Stats: 55 trgts • 21 rec • 299 yds • 3 TD (10 games)
2018 Prediction: 74 trgts • 42 rec • 635 yds • 15.1 ypr • 5 TD
WILLIE SNEAD • WR
If Willie Snead can stay healthy, this will end up being a great addition by Ozzie Newsome. He’s one of three guys that I consider the x-factors for this offense. They can be the difference in this offense being average or being really good. When healthy in New Orleans, Snead averaged 70 receptions for 940 yards over a 2 year span in 2015-16. I’m not saying to expect that production with Flacco, as he is not Drew Brees. But Snead doesn’t need to put up those numbers in his role on the offense. But I will say I could see him winning the #2 WR job over Brown.
2017 Stats: 16 trgts • 8 rec • 92 yds • 0 TD (7 games)
2018 Prediction: 92 trgts • 55 rec • 710 yds • 12.9 ypr • 3 TD
HAYDEN HURST • TE
Hurst has the size and athleticism for the Ravens to use him in a role similar to the way NE uses Gronk. He has great hands. His speed is too much for most linebackers and his size is a mismatch for safeties and slot corners. I hope to see him run a lot of seam routes this season, but also find open pockets on third downs and keep drives alive.
2017 Stats: trgt • 44 rec • 559 yds • 3 TD (13 games- S. Carolina)
2018 Prediction: 82 trgts • 46 rec • 520 • 11.3 ypr • 5 TD
JUSTIN TUCKER • K
It’s impossible to be a Ravens fan and not love Justin Tucker. I guarantee every other team is jealous of our kicker (hey, at least we got something). He has been good on 90.2 % of his career attempts, which currently makes him the most accurate in kicker NFL history. In 2016, he was 38/39, the one miss being a blocked kick (I’m still annoyed that the kicker gets a miss for that). Tuck shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and I almost wanna predict him to have that perfect season this year.
2017 Stats: 37 fga • 34 fgm • 92% • 39/39 xp
2018 Prediction: 34 fga • 32 fgm • 94% • 45/45 xp
OFFENSIVE ROLE PLAYERS
LAMAR JACKSON • QB
I have no idea what to expect out of Jackson, but I don’t believe the Ravens will use him in the way that a lot of teams would, or the way some speculated he should be used. Many experts envisioned him as a receiver in the NFL. I do believe that the Ravens should, and will, find a way to get him on the field this year, but not as a receiver. I envision him maybe lining up out wide, but taking a reverse from Alex Collins and having the option to either run with it or throw it. Maybe taking a pitch from Flacco with some receivers running drag and slant routes in the same direction. That kind of thing. I think they will put him in optimal positions to threaten defenses with his speed, and either take the yards if they are there, or if the defense overreacts to his presence, throw it over the top for a big play. How much of that happens remains to be seen, but it would surely at least make defenses nervous when they see him come on the field.
2017 Stats: 254 of 430 • 59.1 comp % • 3,660 yds • 27 TD • 10 INT • 232 att • 1,601 yds • 6.9 ypr •18 TD (13 games- Louisville)
2018 Prediction: 24 of 42 • 57.1 comp % • 277 yards • 3 TD • 2 INT • 50 att • 323 yds • 6.4 ypc • 3 TD
KENNETH DIXON • RB
Dixon is x-factor number two of the three I mentioned earlier. It’s hard to get an idea of what to expect of Dixon this season. Will we get the guy we saw in his rookie season? The one who refused to go to the ground after first contact, who caught the ball well, turning 118 touches into 544 yards of offense (4.6 ypt). Or will we get the guy that didn’t see a snap all season last year due to suspension and injury? I am leaning more towards the former, as he has had plenty of time to get healthy. And if he can mimic his rookie season, it would really help to keep Collins fresh and dangerous throughout the season. He’s that piece that can come in after Collins wears defenses out, run over a would be tackler, and pop a big run.
2017 Stats: Did not play
2018 Prediction: 85 att • 390 yds • 4.6 ypc • 2 TD • 33 trgts • 23 rec • 207 yds • 9 ypr • 0 TD
BUCK ALLEN • RB
I see all three running backs getting work out of the backfield, with the workload split something like 65/20/15. I am a fan of Buck, but he was surpassed by Dixon on the depth chart in 2016 when Dixon was a rookie. I expect that after what transpired last year, Buck Allen will start training camp as the #2 back. But Dixon should win the job back at some point in the preseason. Still, Buck will have plenty opportunity to make plays.
2017 Stats: 153 att • 591 yds • 3.9 ypc • 4 TD • 60 trgts • 46 rec • 250 yds • 5.4 ypr • 2 rec TD
2018 Prediction: 60 att • 235 yds • 3.9 ypc • 1 TD • 35 trgts • 25 rec • 220 yds • 8.8 ypr • 1 TD
CHRIS MOORE • WR
Whether it was due to injury or certain guys not showing up (their names rhyme with hairy chin abd back fin), Moore was essentially the #2 receiver in Baltimore last year. While he may eventually develop into that role, he wasn’t quite ready for it last year and he’s still not this year. He won’t have to be thanks to the offseason additions at the postition. Moore should end up back as the #4 WR, but I could see one of the talented rookies showing enough to take the role. Either way, history suggests that the #4 in this offense (or really any) won’t produce much.
2017 Stats: 38 trgts • 18 rec • 248 yds • 13.8 ypr • 4 TD
2018 Prediction: 28 trgts • 19 rec • 207 yds • 10.8 ypr • 1 TD
MARK ANDREWS • TE
And checking in as x-factor number 3, Mark Andrews, the TE/SLOT WR hybrid. I love the idea of lining Andrews up on the line, “off” of Hayden Hurst, and then shifting him out to the slot. Andrews, like Hurst is sure handed and also has a great combo of size and speed to create mismatches. Both of these guys on the field together is A LOT of size to deal with between the hashes, and at the very least makes the wideouts jobs easier. I see Andrews with more receptions than Hurst, and he should help guys like Brown and Snead get open deep.
2017 Stats: trgt • 62 rec • 958 yds • 8 TD (14 games- Oklahoma)
2018 Prediction: 93 trgts • 62 rec • 680 yds • 10.9 ypr • 3 TD
So that’s it. The sum of these stats equate to a team that is a top ten rushing attack and middle of the pack passing the ball. I expect this offense to finish somewhere in the range of 14-18, which is a major improvement on last year, when they ranked 27th overall. I’ve added up the points scored based on these predictions and they came out to 25.6 PPG, which would have put them tied for 7th last year. Not so far fetched considering they averaged 24.8 PPG last season and finished 9th. And the good news is that this is a very young core, with a very good young offensive line. This is the year that the transition into a good offense begins, and continues to grow each year.