Ravens Preview Capsule
BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-8)
New faces: WR Jeremy Maclin, CB Brandon Carr, S Tony Jefferson, RB Danny Woodhead, OT Austin Howard.
Key losses: OL Rick Wagner, FB Kyle Juszczyk, DT Timmy Jernigan, LB Elvis Dumervil, WR Steve Smith, OL Alex Lewis (injured reserve), TE Dennis Pitta (injured reserve), LB Zachary Orr (retired), C John Urschel (retired).
Strengths: Defense. Additions of Carr and Jefferson, along with top draft pick Marlon Humphrey, shores up backfield that sorely lacked depth last season, and opposing offenses will also find it hard to run against defensive front anchored by 335-pound Brandon Williams. Sleeker Terrell Suggs provides Baltimore with legitimate threat to quarterbacks who linger in pocket.
Weaknesses: Offensive line. After losing Wagner to free agency, Ravens were already hurting before Urschel retired and Lewis sustained season-ending shoulder injury. Addition of Howard should help, and GM Ozzie Newsome traded for two more linemen immediately before final cuts. Regardless, line lacks depth and can ill afford another injury, especially to Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda or LT Ronnie Stanley.
Fantasy Players To Watch: Justin Tucker is arguably best kicker in league, and he usually gets plenty of FG opportunities because of Baltimore’s annual struggles in red zone. RB Terrance West will get majority of carries, so he should amass some decent yards on ground and account for most of team’s rushing touchdowns.
Expectations: Ravens will get as far as defense carries them. QB Joe Flacco was spotty last year in return from knee surgery, and this season he missed all of training camp with bad back. That does not bode well for offense that lost Pitta (team-high 86 catches) and is operating with thin line. If Flacco can protect ball and Tucker can get points out of drives that fizzle within 40 yards of goal line, Baltimore might get back into postseason after going 5-11 in 2015 and 8-8 last year.
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