By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Baltimore Ravens sign WR Michael Crabtree to a 3-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: If you’ve followed Club Fantasy since the beginning, you likely know I’m a huge fan of Michael Crabtree. Such a fan, in fact, I may have been the only person to rank Crabtree over teammate Amari Cooper. Yeah, I’m that bold. And that awesome, seeing as how over the last two years, Crabtree has outscored Cooper in fantasy. Sadly, new coach Jon Gruden didn’t see the benefits of having Crabtree as part of his offense so he released Crabtree. Then the Ravens remembered how shoddy their receiving corps is so they decided Crabtree was a good option for them.
As I mentioned in my write up about John Brown, the Ravens had the fourth fewest passing yards — an absolutely embarrassing statistic considering how much the league passes these days. After losing their top three pass catchers from a year ago, Brown was the best receiver on the Ravens roster and he had only 299 yards receiving last year. Now that title belongs to Crabtree. Crabtree had a down 2017, as did the Raiders offense as a whole with the injuries suffered by QB Derek Carr. The one positive in Crabtree’s game is that despite only 58 receptions for 618 yards, he did have 8 TDs. But from from 2015-2016, Crabtree had almost 2,000 yards receiving on 174 receptions and 17 touchdowns. In fact, since 2015, Crabtree has scored the 5th most receiving TDs in the NFL with 25. Over the last three years, Ravens wide receivers have combined for 36 TD receptions. If Joe Flacco is any good as an NFL QB, he’ll just throw the ball to Crabtree in the red zone. The dude will score.
I’ve been a Crabtree fan for a long time. He’s a solid route runner and has reliable hands — or at least what constitutes as reliable in today’s NFL. He’s not a burner but he has good speed and he’s willing to go over the middle. He’s basically a poor man’s Larry Fitzgerald and should transition well to the slot when his career winds down. Flacco should rewind the clock and treat Crabtree like his new Anquan Boldin. Of course, Boldin’s career kind of died when he landed in Baltimore before being resurrected by the 49ers, but I digress. The Ravens are still a team that’s built on defense and running the football. With the emergence of RB Alex Collins last year, Pro Football Focus’ 4th highest graded RB, I don’t expect that philosophy to change any. But Crabtree will be their de facto number one option in the passing game and should have around 75 catches for 800 receiving yards and 7 TDs. That’s in line with his stat lines in Oakland the last few years and Crabtree isn’t on the downside of his career. Yet. I’m sure the Ravens will find a way to accelerate that time table with their misuse of the talented wide receiver.