Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: Baltimore Ravens

Free agency has a major impact on fantasy football. We’re a long way from the 2017 league year, but for dynasty team owners it’s never too early to start thinking about how player values could change.

I’m going through each team’s free agency and salary cap as a thought exercise. As an avid dynasty player, knowing how player values could change is key to making good decisions about which players to stash and which to put on the trade block. Once I finish running through the teams, I’ll circle back and do some more player or position-specific analysis.

Baltimore Ravens

Free Agents1

PLAYER POS TEAM TYPE 16 SAL 16 GUAR TEAM CAP
Kyle Juszczyk FB Ravens UFA $615,146 $300,584 $14,239,718
Ryan Mallett QB Ravens UFA $1,122,500 $0 $14,239,718
Terrance West RB Ravens RFA $600,000 $0 $14,239,718
Steve Smith WR Ravens UFA $3,500,000 $3,500,000 $14,239,718
Kamar Aiken WR Ravens UFA $2,553,000 $0 $14,239,718
Devin Hester WR Ravens UFA $1,100,000 $100,000 $14,239,718
Chris Matthews WR Ravens ERFA $600,000 $0 $14,239,718

Cut Candidates

TEAM PLAYER POS DEAD $ CAP SAVINGS
RAVENS M.WALLACE WR 2.25 5.75
RAVENS B.WATSON TE 1 3

Needs – RB, WR

Baltimore ranks low on the list of available cap space for 2017, so barring some cuts or restructures they may not be able to do much. Steve Smith is a free agent who seems set to retire. Kamar Aiken is also a free agent. Mike Wallace had a 1000 yard season, but will be 31 and had gone four seasons without hitting 1000 yards prior to this year. Breshad Perriman played in every game but didn’t make a major impact. However, his role could increase with Smith set to retire. At running back, Terrance West is a free agent as well.

Discussion

Dennis Pitta finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end, which was quite a surprise, and his contract is reasonable. At 31 years old with a lengthy injury history, he might not have many years left. But he might be an intriguing short-term fantasy option. He led the team in targets this year, and was third overall among all TEs. If he stays healthy, Pitta could see as much work again next year. TEs aren’t premium fantasy assets, so even after a solid season he’s likely not valued very highly. I’m not sure I’d roll the dice with him as my primary option at the position, but he’s an intriguing player to hold.

At wide receiver, it seems like Perriman’s value should increase. No, he didn’t do a lot this year, but he did stay healthy and play in every game. And the potential departures of Smith and Aiken free up 151 targets. So barring a major draft pick or free agent acquisition (which seems unlikely, and could be offset somewhat if Wallace starts to show his age), Perriman should be in line for a major workload bump.

Some Terrance West comparables, from the Screener App.

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Maybe that just underscores what a crap shoot the RB position is. Or maybe it just suggests that for the most part, RBs with similar workloads produce similar results. Where he ends up matters a lot. He could turn into a cut candidate quickly, or he could end up in a similar or better situation. Kenneth Dixon’s value obviously goes up a lot if West leaves in free agency. But he’s not worth much if West or another significant RB joins the team. So we’re left with a pair of RBs that are difficult to value. As the younger player with “upside,” Dixon is probably worth more. But should he be? West did finish as a top-24 RB this season, and there’s no guarantee Dixon becomes the starter next year even if West is gone. As I’m writing I realize this paragraph isn’t very actionable, but maybe I’ll just remind us not to be aware of prejudices that might adversely affect our player evaluations (e.g. West was a bust or Dixon is a promising rookie). I think I would hold on to either player, but wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire either.

  1. Available cap space was compiled in mid-December, 2016, and may have changed since. I’ll update that once I finish reviewing all the teams.  (back)