The Baltimore Ravens have been a run-heavy team for a long time — Top 12 in Rush% six straight seasons. Ever since Lamar Jackson and his dual-threat talents took over from the statuesque Joe Flacco, the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh have counted on the run game to keep them competitive. Much of this had to do with the incredibly high strikeout rate among the wide receivers brought in by the team.
The team has had the anti-Midas touch in free agency, as they have in recent years provided a dead end to the careers of previously successful veterans like Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree and Sammy Watkins. The draft has been about as futile. There was Miles Boykin, the once-promising Notre Dame product plucked in Round 3 of the 2019 draft — he washed away after a combined 33 catches in his three seasons with the team. Mid-round hopefuls like Jaleel Scott (Rd. 4, 2018) and Jordan Lasley (Rd. 5, 2018) failed to launch, while Tylan Wallace (Rd. 4, 2021) and James Proche (Rd. 6, 2020) look poised to follow suit. Yes, there’s still time for 2021 first rounder Rashod Bateman to turn things around, but his first two seasons have produced a woeful ROI.
Only Marquise Brown (Rd. 1, 2019) can be considered a fantasy success at WR in the Lamar Jackson era, and even he was a roller-coaster ride — just ask any of his fantasy managers. After trading Brown on draft day in 2022, the Ravens decided to go to the first round receiver well once again in the 2023 draft. A much different athlete than previous first rounders Bateman and Brown, Zay Flowers has had nothing but glowing comments coming out of training camp.
Flowers, from Boston College, will look to team up with Odell Beckham Jr. to bring some semblance of a passing game to the Ravens’ offensive attack. Going as WR47, pick No. 115 overall, in 2023 drafts, Flowers is an excellent value — especially when considering that teammate OBJ, having missed an entire season, is being taken as WR40 with the 96th overall pick.
While Jackson and the Ravens will not be able to sustain two Top 15 receivers the way some other teams can, both players could finish in the Top 30. Flowers finished his college career with 3,056 yards and 29 TD on 200 receptions. On top of his receiving work, he also rushed the ball a total of 57 times for 345 yards and two additional scores. At 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds, Flowers will take over the slot position in the offense. With the underneath work being key to the Ravens’ pass offense, look for Flowers to challenge Mark Andrews for the receptions lead in Baltimore.
Andrews is being taken in the third round of drafts while Beckham Jr. is being taken at the end of the eighth round. Meanwhile, Flowers is falling all the way down to the 10th round. This allows you to stock up on even more high-end talent from other teams while still getting an asset as your WR3 or WR4. Do not be surprised if Flowers is the top WR in Baltimore by November and a Top 20 WR selection in 2024. This will be the last time he goes so late in drafts. Now is the time to buy low on this sleeper.
(Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports)