Jul 14, 2009
I’ve been on vacation officially for less than 24 hours, since technically we just moved into the house I rented for the week Monday afternoon. I unpacked, spent $3712.27 at the Piggly Wiggly on food for the week, and went into the (80 degree) water.
And, of course, I didn’t have my blackberry with me to find out that Raven WR Derrick Mason retired.
Not a big deal, since it’s mid-July and I was able to throw up a twat on twitter shortly after the news broke (that shows up on the site, btw). But I do feel the need to break away from my supposed down time to cover this.
This is obviously a huge blow to the Ravens and for QB Joe Flacco. I love Flacco more than most, but I still put him on the ‘avoid’ or ‘overvalued’ list because I smelled a comedown season due to the fact that the team simply didn’t get him any help at receiver, plus I was still concerned with Mason’s health.
Now, Flacco’s receiving corps is perilously thin.
Of course, if Mason does stay retired, and I’m inclined to believe he will, the Ravens will likely sign a veteran, and they do have options, such as Marvin Harrison, Matt Jones, Drew Bennett, Amani Toomer, etc. I think that’s what they do since again, I don’t see Mason pulling back from his retirement announcement. I’ve interviewed Mason on the radio and he takes his football very seriously. Always a consummate professional, I don’t think he’s the type of guy who’ll make such an important decision and change his mind. No matter what he says, I have to think the Steve McNair tragedy factored into this decision.
For now, let’s assume they Ravens don’t bring someone in. It’s obviously big news for WR Mark Clayton, who I’ve liked all off-season. He’s a very nice #2, but he’ll have to be their #1 most likely. I think he’s clicked very well with Flacco, something I spoke to the QB about on Sirius last December. The chemistry is there, so while Clayton’s not an elite guy, if the pass routes are clearly defined and somewhat simplistic as their run-heavy formations dictate coverages, Clayton should catch more passes, especially in a possession role. He’s now an excellent #3 fantasy receiver, which is good for me since I drafted him like 4 times already as my #4 in my expert leagues.
But the player who sees the biggest spike in value is clearly Demetrius Williams. Williams not only has the vertical ability they desperately need, he actually projects best as their #1 WR. He’s probably more talented than Clayton, although Clayton is very solid and is right now a better player. Williams has good size along with that deep speed, which is why he’s now a very legit sleeper. The team has been waiting for him to break out, and they’ve been very patient with him. He might have already by this point, but injuries have been a major, major problem. But if he’s healthy, he’s definitely a big-time sleeper this year, especially if they don’t bring in another receiver of note. If they don’t, a healthy Williams will start.
Next up, we have second-year receiver Marcus Smith, who really impressed in camp last year as a rookie. He didn’t catch a pass last year, but he definitely made an impression. Our own Adam Caplan was really impressed with him watching him in practice last summer, and he now has a great opportunity, especially if Williams continues to have injury problems. Like Anquan Boldin, he’s big, physical, is a great run- after-the-catch guy, and he runs good routes. He saw time as the #3 in camp last summer, so he’s been in this position before in training camp.
In addition to the impacts for these three WRs, there should still be some catches to account for, since a healthy Mason’s a lock for 80 catches. The TEs will have to step up, but the problem there is veterans Todd Heap and Little John Smith (funny, isn’t it?) will split production. I’m looking more for the RBs to see a boost in value, particularly Ray Rice, who should be their most active pass catcher. This move could mean 5-10 more catches for Rice, which could bump him a few spots (for now, even if give him 5 more catches and the yardage, he stays where he is).
Here’s how the other guys move on my board:
Clayton goes up to #30 WR from #36.
Williams soars up to #64 from 83.
Smith moves up to 101 from no man’s land.
By the way, I’m driving back to NJ on Monday; that’s about right for Brett Favre to sign. I’m thinking he’ll sign while I’m stuck in a parking lot (I-95) in Northern Virginia around mid-afternoon.