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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Team Talk: Baltimore Ravens

By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24)

Heading over to the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens had a disappointing season after winning the Super Bowl just the previous season. Guess the curse of the Super Bowl winner struck again! Looking to bounce back in 2014, the Ravens made a couple of additions that may end up being fantasy relevant. Let's take a look.

Joe Flacco- It's clearly obvious that Joe Flacco is a better NFL quarterback than fantasy quarterback. At best, Flacco is a backup fantasy quarterback. He finished 2013 with over 4,000 passing yards and had more interceptions than touchdowns (19 touchdowns to 22 interceptions if you're curious). Flacco ended the season with 236 fantasy points and goes into 2014 as a backup quarterback in fantasy drafts.

Ray Rice- My how the mighty have fallen. Considered a first round pick in fantasy drafts just last season, fantasy owners may think twice before drafting Ray Rice with an early first round pick this time around. Running backs are a top priority in fantasy owners minds and Ray Rice did not perform well enough in 2013 to be considered a top running back that should be drafted as one of the first backs off the board. Of course, he can just as easily have a bounce back 2014 as he did a disappointing 2013 but Bernard Pierce may have done just enough to split time with Rice making the former Rutgers star's value drop a bit this season. Rice finished the season with 122 fantasy points in the 15 games he played but averaged single digit fantasy points in most of them. Not acceptable from a back drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts. He was a little more useful in PPR formats with his 58 catches for 321 yards but still not enough all around from a back that was drafted as high as he was.

Bernard Pierce- Pierce could end up splitting more time with Ray Rice in 2014 due to Rice slipping last season and Pierce showing that he can handle more work. Pierce did not have a great season himself but then again, neither did Ray Rice. The difference is Rice has the track record and Pierce doesn't. Pierce could be worth grabbing later in fantasy drafts as insurance for Rice owners but I wouldn't expect too much from him either way. Pierce finished with 501 rushing yards and three touchdowns and under 80 fantasy points overall.

Owen Daniels- Coming from the Texans, Daniels is one of the offseason additions the Ravens made. I think fantasy owners at this point know what to expect from Owen Daniels and that isn't too much. When healthy, he can be a productive tight end but that's the problem. He is almost never healthy for long periods of time. With Owen Daniels and Dennis Pitta both in Baltimore now, the tight end position may take a hit in fantasy football but Daniels is almost sure to miss time and I don't see him contributing very much to fantasy rosters this season. With Houston last season, Daniels played in six games and averaged under eight fantasy points per game.

Dennis Pitta- Pitta missed most of the 2013 season with an injury he sustained before the regular season even began. He played in the Ravens final four games of the regular season and provided a little boost to fantasy owners over that time. Pitta averaged five catches per game over that span (20 receptions over his last four games total) but only finished with one touchdown which was a little disappointing. Looking like he's healthy heading into this season, Pitta will be a top tight end option in fantasy drafts.

Marlon Brown- Marlon Brown was a surprise to fantasy owners in 2013. He managed
51 receptions for 530 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games. While Brown wasn't consistent enough for fantasy owners, his seven touchdowns were enough to keep him on fantasy radars for the 2014 season. Brown could see a decline in red zone targets with Pitta back but  is still worth a late look in drafts.

Steve Smith- Coming over from Carolina, Smith is another addition to the Ravens offense in 2014. Steve Smith was a highly productive receiver for many years in the Panthers organization and saw a reemergence when Cam Newton came to town. In a new offense for the first time in his NFL career, Steve Smith may have seen his better days as a top target and fantasy receiver. Knowing that Smith can still get by defenders and Flacco can throw a deep ball with the best of them, Smith could very well have a decent fantasy season in 2014. He is coming off of 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns just last season and with defenses game planning for Torrey Smith, Steve Smith could reap the benefits. But don't be surprised if Steve Smith falls off a little more in Baltimore.

Torrey Smith- Torrey was the only Ravens player consistent for fantasy owners last season. His 70 receptions for over 1200 yards and four touchdowns were more or less the only bright spot for the Ravens in 2013. He was also the only Ravens player worth drafting in fantasy football last season as it turned out. Heading into 2014, Torrey Smith will once again be the top target for Joe Flacco and fantasy owners should expect more of the same from the former Maryland product.