Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Team Outlook: Baltimore Ravens

Keith Allison via Flickr
Studs: None

Solid Starters: Ray RiceTorrey Smith, Dennis Pitta

After an offseason of dragging his wife out of an elevator, Ray Rice enters 2014 with a lot of question marks. Rice had a underwhelming 2013 with only 214 carries for 660 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games. Although, he did save PPR owners a bit with 58 receptions. For 2014, the Ravens hired Gary Kubiak to be the new offensive coordinator which is a good thing for Rice because over the course of five years Kubiak ran Arian Foster into the ground with about 22 touches per game over five years. With all that has followed Rice the past two years he is an extremely risky draft pick and one owners should probably avoid. However, the antidote is there for him to improve in 2014. Rice could prove to be more of just a flex option or extremely low-end RB2.

Torrey Smith is the Ravens biggest deep threat and most reliable target for Joe Flacco. Last season he caught 65 passes for 1128 and only four touchdowns. He should stay right around the same area for catches and yards but he most definitely should be able to increase his touchdowns to at least seven in 2014. Also, the Ravens acquired Steve Smith, which even though he is rapidly declining, should take a little bit of pressure off of Smith.

Despite an injury plagued 2013, Dennis Pitta has developed into Joe Flacco's safety valve. While he isn't going to post big yardage totals, he'll be able to catch about four passes per game with a reasonably high touchdown total.

Backups: Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco is nothing more than a boring game manager not worthy of starting in standard fantasy leagues. He'll get some yards and no more than 20 or so touchdowns but that is about it. Not to mention the offense really hasn't improved another than the acquisitions of a few aging receivers (Steve Smith and Owen Daniels). Flacco is an okay backup, however if I'm drafting a backup I'd be willing to draft one much later and go with someone like EJ Manuel or Even Ryan Fitzpatrick instead.

Sleeper: Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro, 'Insert a Receiver Here'

The whole Ravens running game was a sad story last year and Bernard Pierce only averaged 2.9 yard per carry. Under Gary Kubiak the running game should be much improved but is Bernard Pierce good enough to take advantage of this? Regardless, both Pierce and Taliaferro are okay sleepers in the event that Ray Rice continues on the downward career and life trend that he has been on.

The Ravens desperately need a receiver other than Torrey Smith to step up. Steve Smith could be a decent fifth receiver on fantasy teams but there isn't really much potential there. Other options include Marlon Brown or slot-receiver Michael Companero.

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