The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side: Ryan Hester
Maclin’s surprising release from Kansas City may end up being a blessing for him. It allowed him to “shop around” and find a landing spot with a team that needed his talents and would deploy him in a way that will allow him to succeed.
Success in fantasy football is usually the intersection of opportunity and efficiency. Baltimore’s situation is oozing with opportunity. Rarely does a team that led the NFL in passing attempts for two straight seasons lose its most and third-most targeted players. The Ravens have attempted 676 and 679 passes in the last two seasons.
Of those 679 passing attempts, 333 were intended for players who won’t be suiting up for Baltimore in 2017. That staggering number easily leads the NFL in terms of unaccounted for passing game opportunity. Furthermore, 151 of those targets were to wide receivers. Another 121 were to Dennis Pitta (who led the team).
The opportunity is evident, and even if Maclin weren’t very good, he’d still be a draft day value. But Maclin is a proven commodity who has two seasons of 85 or more receptions, two seasons of 1,000 or more yards, and three seasons of 8 or more touchdowns under his belt. He acquired those stats with average-at-best quarterback play on teams who were far from the league lead in passing attempts.
Maclin’s skill set is a perfect match for what Baltimore needed – a player who can catch passes at all levels of the field. In Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, the Ravens have two field-stretchers known for elite top-end speed and deep-ball playmaking. But they lacked a “chain-mover” with Smith’s retirement and Pitta’s injury and subsequent release.
Some of the absent targets will go to Danny Woodhead out of the backfield; Perriman will see his number increase dramatically as well; but Maclin should step right in and lead the team in targets and receptions – and perhaps yardage too.
Low Side: Jason Wood
Jeremy Maclin was once an underrated receiver. At his best in Philadelphia, he was a borderline Pro Bowl talent able to win contest balls and make plays with the ball in his hands. He's just three seasons removed from an 85-catch, 1,318-yard, 10-touchdown year and a #9 finish. Respecting Maclin for what he's done is one thing, but that doesn't mean you should draft him expecting anything close to those numbers in 2017.
The Chiefs released Maclin after an injury-marred season that cost him four games. He had just 44 receptions for 536 yards and two touchdowns and was considered expendable in Kansas City even though Chris Conley is now slated to start in his stead. Maclin signed with Baltimore, and his signing bolsters quarterback Joe Flacco's floor, but it doesn't imply Maclin will bounce back into fantasy relevance.
The Ravens have three wide receivers worth Flacco's attention. Breshad Perriman has yet to deliver on his potential, but is finally healthy and has All Pro upside. Mike Wallace is the incumbent veteran and is coming off a 1,000-yard season. Maclin is a welcome addition, but he's not unquestionably better than either Wallace or Perriman. If all three play, there won't be enough targets to satisfy fantasy owners. That's to say nothing of Danny Woodhead, a running back capable of catching 80 receptions.
Finally, Joe Flacco may throw the ball a lot (600+ attempts last year), but he's awful at converting attempts into scores. With 20-22 touchdowns the likely season tally, how many scores will Maclin reel in? Fewer than he needs to in order to deliver fantasy value at his current ADP.