The Baltimore Ravens selected wide receiver Zay Flowers with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here's what you need to know about how his Fantasy stock in both season-long and Dynasty formats is affected by his landing spot.
Flowers' Fantasy fit with the Ravens
When I went back and watched tape of Lamar Jackson this offseason, my biggest takeaway is that he was at his best when Marquise Brown was healthy and operating as the focal point of the passing attack. Flowers profiles similar to Brown in size, and while he doesn't have the same kind of vertical speed, his ability to sell double moves and track the ball vertically makes him an immediate threat in the deep passing game (his production at BC backs this up) and therefore a fit for Jackson.
More notably, he'll be a fit with Jackson on the underneath passing game (RPOs, quick in-breakers). Brown looked the best of his career working with Jackson on the underneath concepts, and Flowers can take that to a whole different level with his YAC ability. Although the Ravens also added Odell Beckham Jr. and return Rashod Bateman at wide receiver, both Beckham and Bateman have extensive injury histories. Beckham's history of injuries is well documented and Bateman missed most of the 2022 season plus a slew of games at the collegiate level. There's a real opportunity for Flowers to earn a solid target share as a rookie.
This wide receiver class is wide open at the top and that means we'll see the landing spots for these prospects dictate their rookie draft and Dynasty value. Remember Skyy Moore from last year's class? Before the Chiefs nabbed him, he was a mid-to-late second-round pick in rookie drafts. After? He went in the first round. Flowers is a likely late-first round draft pick in rookie drafts for 1QB leagues and in SuperFlex/2QB, he will come off the board around the 1/2 turn.
Zay Flowers: What to know
Flowers will get dinged by some for his height and in relation to that, how it translates to the NFL level, but I'm here to tell you those concerns are overblown. The same can be said about Flowers initially being a three-star recruit -- the big-name brand college programs all whiffed on adding a talent that would've thrived even greater on a bigger stage. Flowers' ability to create consistent separation at all three levels of the field, track the football vertically, change direction and accelerate, adjust to off-target throws and win at the catch point from both the slot and flanker positions will help his game translate to the next level right away.
Similar to undersized receivers who excelled in every area mentioned -- like Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith and Antonio Brown -- it's more about what they can do. He's not at the level of any of those players, but he wins in ways that they do. Focusing too much on one drawback like size is like a blindspot in the evaluation process.
- WR profiles: Quentin Johnson | Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Flowers became the focal point of the Boston College offense as early as his sophomore season when he drew triple-digit targets (103). They used him in a variety of ways -- flood concepts to take advantage of his ability to create yards after the catch on the horizontal plane, double moves that highlighted his ability as a vertical route runner and tracker and on jet sweeps in addition to quick throws around the line of scrimmage that emphasize his change of direction plus acceleration traits.
Flowers' defining trait -- his trump card -- is his ability to change direction with little to no wasted movement before accelerating out of his break. This is what made him one of the best deep threats in the nation from a production standpoint despite being only 5-9 with 4.42 speed (great speed, but not Desean Jackson level or what you typically see from the one-trick pony best of the best at vertical separation). This trait coupled with Flowers' nuanced route running allows him to create separation at all three levels of the field. For me as an evaluator -- among all traits -- separation is king. It's the one trait that translates and should a receiver prove the ability to beat press -- it can translate to playing all three wide receiver positions at the NFL level.
Age as of Week 1: 23 | Height: 5-foot-9 | Weight: 182 | 40-time: 4.42
Comparable body-type to: Jaylen Waddle
We're breaking down everything you need to know about Flowers from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
- Consistently beat bracket coverage from opposing defenses focused on taking Flowers out of the game as Boston College's only X factor.
- If you need to get a first down on 3rd and short against man coverage, you can get Flowers in the slot in a one-on-one and he'll run the whip route better than almost any defensive back can cover it.
- Separation is king when it comes to Flowers and he's the only player in the class who I project can and will consistently win at all three levels (short, intermediate, deep) with his separation skills.
- Acceleration in and out of his breaks -- Flowers can go from 0 to 60 in a blink.
- Lateral agility is evident at all levels for Flowers and his ability to make quick lateral cuts is what helps him create separation at the top of his routes but also it allows him to force missed tackles in open space and rack up yards after the catch.
- Breakaway speed is evident on tape. Flowers ran a 4.42 which puts him in the 82nd percentile among wide receivers, but he is even faster on tape when breaking away from defenders -- game speed is evident.
- YAC will come easy for Flowers at the NFL level. Flowers doesn't waste any steps in his routes and after he catches the football
- Some great reps where he catches away from his frame and with his hands, but this is not always consistent.
- Can be used at all three levels -- short, intermediate and deep passing game.
- Flowers' explosive first step and nuanced route running make him really difficult to defend on vertical routes.
- You've probably seen the Antonio Brown comps for Flowers, and while they're lofty there is one area of Flowers' game that reminds me of Brown -- it's how fast he releases off the line of scrimmage to get vertical. There weren't too many NFL defensive backs who were able to cover Brown one on one from a press alignment.
- Flowers' field vision is unique for a wide receiver -- when he's in the open field it almost looks like he's a running back as he weaves and finds cutback lanes. This will also make Flowers an immediate threat to be a plus addition to any team as their punt returner.
- The biggest factor in Flowers' upside as a deep game threat is his first step, but another thing he does well is track the football in the air on deep throws.
- Flowers' ability to shift his body weight and accelerate in a different direction makes him a really tough man cover in off coverage. Cornerbacks struggled to stop him when they played off the ball.
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- Size and frame are the key concerns for Flowers. He's 5-9 and 182 pounds. Some NFL teams may view him as a slot only receiver and because of that they might knock him. Those evaluators would view him as a Tavon Austin type prospect. However, he has the same frame (height, weight) as Jaylen Waddle and he's not too far off from Antonio Brown from a size standpoint. Those receivers made it work on the outside.
- Flowers doesn't have a big catch radius. The window to throw in the intermediate range on hole shots in the zone gets that much smaller.
- Flowers plucks the ball away from his frame with his hands at times but also lets the pass get into his body too often.
Other stats to know
- Flowers broke Boston College records for catches (200), yards (3,056) and touchdowns (29).
- Flowers recorded five or more receptions on targets 20-plus yards downfield in all four of his college seasons, including 12 during the 2022 season according to Pro Football Focus.
- 500 of Flowers' 1,077 yards came on deep passes, per PFF
Credit to NFL Next Gen Stats for this comparison, but after I saw them make the comp, I can't help but see the similarities between Flowers and Tyler Lockett. Both Flowers and Lockett dominate the vertical passing game and it has nothing to do with their raw speed (which is very fast still at 4.42). Flowers might be a more explosive version of Lockett after the catch and in space, and if he reaches his ceiling he can be a big-time Fantasy contributor.