2013 Team Outlook: Baltimore Ravens

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2013 Team Outlook: Baltimore Ravens

A fantasy football preview of the Baltimore Ravens this season. Profiled players include Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Ray Rice, Bobby Rainey, and Bernard Pierce.

Keep arguing if you want about whether the Ravens' quarterback is elite, though it seems like Flacco's Super Bowl win and career playoff record largely ended that debate. As for those who imagine him as fantasy gold now that Baltimore's No. 5 hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, get ready for some pushback. Whatever happens to flip the switch with Flacco's stat line in the postseason does not exist consistently during Weeks 1-17. He's certainly viable and even potent depending on the matchup (Flacco threw for a career-high 3,817 yards) including five 300-yard games with 22 touchdowns). Of course, he also tossed for less than 200 yards six times and has still never thrown for more than 25 touchdowns in a single season. Factor in no obvious replacement for Anquan Boldin and it is hard imagining anything different overall for Flacco in 2013. That's not a bad thing as long as he's drafted in the middle off the QB2 range and not with the idea of him leading you to a fantasy Super Bowl.

The former Virginia Tech star has one of the league's cushy jobs, holding a clipboard behind the Super Bowl winning and highly-paid Joe Flacco. Last season when the Ravens rested Flacco and others in Week 17, the mobile Taylor completed 15 of 25 passed for 149 yards with one interception while rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. That's a reasonable fascimile of what his stat line would look like should Taylor enter the lineup on a regular basis. Former Bronco QB Caleb Hanie is also on the roster, but Taylor should fend him off for the backup role.

It would be fair to classify the all-purpose back's 2012 as ho-hum by his own high standards. It would be more than fair to imagine Rice's 2013 season being anything but, especially in points per reception leagues. He went over 1,100 rush yards and caught at least 61 passes for the fourth straight season, though his totals in both categories represented lows in that span. Blame Joe Flacco taking control of the offense and Bernard Pierce's existence. Nothing will change on either of those fronts, but with uncertainty at the WR2 slot, Rice's roll in the passing game should receive a boost. Let's also note that he has scored 22 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Because Pierce likely receives more carries than he did as a rookie, it is conceivable that Rice looses some touches. Nothing alarming, but enough to push him closer toward the middle of the RB1 pack than atop it.

Between a lengthy stint on the practice squad and ending the season on IR, Rainey didnt have a chance to show anything during the regular season; he did show plenty of energy out of the backfield during presason. The former Western Kentucky runner plays bigger than his 5-foot-8, 205-pound frame and showed quality pass catching skills. He'll battle for one of the roster spots behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Update (8-13): Pierce suffered a left knee sprain in the Ravens' preseason opener, but the rising second-year runner was on the field for Monday's practice. He is easily one of the top fantasy handcuffs, a potential flex option if he receives 7-10 touches per game and a top-15 RB option if Ray Rice misses time.

Pierce lived up to his rugged reputation and sleeper tag with a rock solid rookie campaign, averaging 4.9 yards and 108 regular season carries. He did even better during the postseason (5.2 ypc), including 103 yards in the wildcard round win over Indianapolis. Obviously Ray Rice remains the lead back, but seeing as Pierce had 22 touches in the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl combined, he could have flex or bye week value in 2013. For now, consider him a high-end handcuff in the R3/4 range.

The special teams performer averaged just one carry for each of the 16 games he played for the Ravens last season, picking up 61 yards total. With Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce ahead on the depth chart, expect a similar usage rate. That is if Allen makes the squad. Bobby Rainey and Damien Berry are also fighting for space in Baltimore's backfield. Barring injuries ahead of them, none of the three is draftable.