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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Team Talk: Baltimore Ravens

Hey Brainiacs...  Today we continue the "Team Talk" series, primarily written by our newest contributor:  Adam Filadelfo.  Please give him a follow on Twitter: @Frostt24!

Today - Your world champion Baltimore Ravens!

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Okay, the Baltimore Ravens may or may not be your favorite NFL team, but either way there could be fantasy glory to be found here. After all, they are the defending Superbowl champions! The path to a fantasy championship is won with your head not your heart, so forget about your real world alliances and how you may feel about the Ravens. Let's take a look at some of the Ravens for fantasy football.

Ray Rice - Ray Rice is more like a WR wearing an RB jersey. He should still get the majority of the touches even with Benard Pierce due for an increased role in the offense. He will still catch passes out of the backfield and will still see plenty of goal line carries as well. With the WR position thin in Baltimore, there may even be times Rice lines up on the outside as a WR. This would enhance his value in PPR leagues even more. Don't put too much emphasis on Pierce taking carries away from Rice this season. A fresher Ray Rice could bode well for his fantasy owners down the stretch come fantasy playoff time. (A key strategic point!)

Bernard Pierce - Honestly, the main value Pierce holds in fantasy drafts should be to Rice owners. While Pierce is in line for an increased role, Ray Rice is still the bell cow in the Ravens offense. While there aren't many obvious handcuffs to starting RBs this season, Pierce goes without saying. But again, there isn't much reason to draft him unless you want that insurance policy for your first round pick in Ray Rice. Rice has proven to be durable over his NFL career so far but if Rice were to get hurt, Pierce would hold more value. You probably don't want to use a bench spot to draft Pierce unless you've already drafted Rice. 

Joe Flacco - While Flacco may be an "elite" NFL QB, his fantasy status isn't on the same level. Yes he is the reigning Superbowl MVP, but he's not anything more than a QB2 in fantasy circles. Flacco is a good bye week fill in at QB but drafting him as your every week starter could put you behind the 8 ball every week. The problem with Flacco is he is inconsistent from a fantasy perspective. He may not lose the week for you, but he certainly will not help you win either. Feel good if you can get Flacco late in your draft after your QB1 is already on your roster. 

Jacoby Jones - Jones may end up not being fantasy relevant but due to the departure of Anquan Boldin, Jones has the chance to slip into the role Boldin previously occupied. Where Jones real value lies is if your league gives points for kick/punt returns. Even though Jacoby Jones' role in the offense should increase, he should keep his return duties. You can target Jones late in drafts as a potential sleeper, but don't expect significant returns on that pick. He probably won't be a productive every week WR for fantasy purposes but could hold some value just being one of the top WRs in Baltimore this year. 

Dallas Clark - By default, Clark could be the starting TE in Baltimore when the season begins. With Dennis Pitta out for the season with a dislocated hip and Ed Dickson nursing a hamstring injury of his own, newly signed Dallas Clark could quickly become a safety net for Flacco. Since Clark has probably seen his better days in Indianapolis, he will most likely go undrafted in most shallow leagues and may be worthy of a waiver wire pickup if you find yourself in need of TE help once the bye weeks start rolling around. 

Torrey Smith - Smith is obviously the number one WR in Baltimore but the question is, is he ready to be? Torrey Smith is not a possession WR but rather a deep threat. You can consider him boom or bust. On any given week he can have a big game while the next week could net you very little points. His game is predicated on catching deep passes which Flacco is more than capable of delivering but no shows from a number one WR just won't cut it on a week to week basis for your fantasy team. Grabbing Smith as your third WR could be your best bet. You need that consistency and Torrey Smith will not give you that.

Ed Dickson - Although banged up a bit, Dickson could provide some fantasy value if drafted in later rounds. As previously stated, Dallas Clark's better days are behind him and Pitta is out for the season so Dickson could step up this year once healthy. He knows the offense and could be a serviceable TE in a thin class at his position. Where Pitta was red zone favorite of Flacco, it is possible Dickson steps into that role in 2013. 

Justin Tucker - It isn't often that a kicker gets fantasy love but Justin Tucker should be one of the first kickers off the board. This doesn't mean reach for a kicker, but Tucker is a reliable option and rarely missed last season. He should remain one of the most reliable at his position again in 2013. 

D/ST - A fantasy staple when it came to defenses throughout the years, the Baltimore defense may have taken a step back this year. The leader of the defense, Ray Lewis is retired, linebackers Paul Kreuger and Danelle Ellerbee left for Cleveland & Miami respectively and future HOF safety Ed Reed is now in Houston. The Ravens do have playmakers on defense but may not be as feared as it was in years past. They should still remain a decent defense should you miss out on the top fantasy defenses this year.