The off-season hasn’t been kind to the Baltimore Ravens who were a Lee Evans’ drop away from going to the Super Bowl in 2011. Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs, is likely out until late November with an achilles injury and superstar running back Ray Rice (above) was tagged with a frustrating franchise tag.
Even though the mood in Baltimore seems tepid, don’t count out Head Coach John Hardbaugh whose 44-20 record and .688 winning percentage is tied for the best in the NFL. And we all know, winning seems to go hand-and-hand with happy fantasy owners.
Here are the guys in Baltimore that you should have on your list come time to do the fantasy draft.
*Credit to Cold Stone Creamery for inspiring the categories for this set of fantasy previews. However, I cannot guarantee the fantasy players will live up to high expectations like their delicious ice cream does.
GOTTA HAVE THEM (Elite Category – These guys are must have for any fantasy team)
RB Ray Rice (2011 Finish: 1st ranked RB, 17.7 points per game)
Everyone talks about New Orleans QB Drew Brees being hit with the franchise tag, but Rice may have the most legitimate beef with his team. Not only does he play at a position that has one of the shortest lifespans in the league, he led the league in all-purpose yards and emerged as the number one ranked running back in 2011. Rice recorded 15 or more fantasy points in 11 of the 16 weeks last year. He loved the state of Ohio where he racked up 395 total yards and scored three touchdowns at Cincinnati and Cleveland. Rice may not come out as the best again, but he shouldn’t be far behind with no real back-up; Ricky Williams retired leaving rookie Bernard Pierce as the second back. Call me crazy, but I would draft Rice number one overall in almost any league.
LOVE THEM (These guys are game-changers who are a breakout season or two from becoming elite)
WR Anquan Boldin (2011 Finish: 37th ranked WR, 6.3 points per game)
Boldin is a tricky player because he has the skills to be a wonderful asset to a fantasy team yet at the same time his recklessness on the field makes him injury prone, a trait not desirable in the game of fantasy. Despite the risk, I think another year with QB Joe Flacco and the emergence of deep-threat Torrey Smith on the other side will have Boldin scoring closer to seven touchdowns like he did in 2010 opposed to the three he scored last season.
LIKE THEM (These guys are solid fantasy options who should help any fantasy team win)
WR Torrey Smith (2011 Finish: 22nd ranked WR, 7.7 points per game)
Yes, Smith finished 15 spots higher than Boldin did last season, but take away his 34 point welcome to the world of fantasy at St. Louis in week three and Smith doesn’t even crack the top fifty at his position. That’s the thing with Smith and most deep-threat receivers in the NFL, they just don’t get enough catches to warrant a spot each and every week in your line-up. And if they do, they need an elite quarterback who excels at throwing the long ball, something Baltimore does not have. Flacco is actually quite bad at throwing deep down the field, thus why I would most likely take a flyer on drafting the speedy Smith unless you could get him late in draft.
Ravens D/ST (2011 Finish: 3rd ranked D/ST, 10.1 points per game)
In most occasions, I would put this unit in the love them category, especially as long as 17 year veteran Ray Lewis stays in the line-up. However, losing teammate Terrell Suggs is a huge loss for the team. Not only that, safety Ed Reed is getting older and has had some team issues in the recent past. Due to those reasons, I’m downgrading them to the “like them” category, but I can’t see them not being a top ten defense in 2012 yet again.
OUT OF STOCK (These guys can not yet be counted on to bring greatness to a fantasy team)
QB Joe Flacco
RB Bernard Pierce
TE Ed Dickson
WR Jacoby Jones
RB Anthony Allen
What do you think of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens Fantasy Outlook? Did I miss anything or was it pretty spot on? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
More TSB Fantasy Team Previews:
Ray Rice (faniq.com)
Anquan Boldin (queenofsports.com)
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