For nearly all of their 21-year history, the Baltimore Ravens have placed an emphasis on running a balanced offense and have featured some of the more dominant running backs in recent memory. However, the past couple seasons have seen the team shy from that formula. In 2016, Baltimore was 28th in the league in rushing with a paltry 91.4 yards per game. For comparison, the Ravens pounded the rock for 118 yards per game during their 2012 Super Bowl campaign.
The Ravens backfield was in a state of flux in 2016 as they relied on Terrance West to be their feature back – yikes. West averaged 48.4 rushing yards per game and topped 80 yards in three of his 16 appearances. Upstart running back Kenneth Dixon showed some PPR promise later in the season with solid receiving games against Cincinnati, Miami and New England. This makes the news of Dixon’s suspension for the first four games of the 2017 season even more disappointing.
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It appears Baltimore will attempt to rectify this drop in production and fill the Dixon absence by signing multipurpose back Danny Woodhead. In 2015, prior to tearing his ACL and missing most of 2016, Woodhead snatched 80 passes for 755 yards and six touchdowns. Woodhead also rushed for three TDs and was able to gain 336 yards on the ground. Woodhead should be one of the more viable fantasy options in the Ravens backfield.
In 16 games for the Chargers in 2015, Woodhead averaged 10.2 points per game in standard fantasy leagues and 15.2 in PPR leagues. This is serious production for a player whose average draft position was around 79th overall in 2016 (a late eighth-round pick in 10 team leagues).
Woodhead should also be a welcome addition to a Ravens backfield which has been utilized a great deal by Joe Flacco in the passing game. During his prime Ray Rice had a four-year stretch (2009-12) where he was targeted 92.5 times per season in the passing game and was able to haul in an average of nearly 70 receptions in each of those four years. In 2013 and 2015 Woodhead caught 76 and 80 passes from quarterback Philip Rivers. When factoring in Woodhead’s age (he’ll be 32 at the start of the 2017 season), it wouldn’t be unrealistic for his fantasy value in the passing game to be similar. Woodhead could be a solid seventh-eighth round flex option, especially in leagues 12 teams or more.