Fantasy Stud — Ray Rice
Ray Rice is one of the top fantasy football options in the NFL, and will likely be a top 7-10 selection in nearly every draft out there. The Ravens’ offense flows through Rice, and he has finally started adding big touchdown totals to go along with his ridiculous number of touches in the offense.
The last two seasons, Rice has a total of 25 touchdowns compared to just 14 in 2009-10. The biggest thing with Rice is, he doesn’t turn the ball over and cost his team scoring opportunities. As many times as he touches the ball, Rice has just two fumbles in the last three seasons.
Rice is truly a superstar in the NFL, and the only thing that scares me a bit about him is the emergence of second year running back Bernard Pierce, who proved last year that he can provide more than just the occasional breather for Ray Rice. Still Rice is too good to pass on early on in your draft, depending where you’re picking. If you’ve got the fourth overall pick or lower, I’d say Rice is a really solid pick, maybe even if you’re picking third. He is easily the best fantasy option available on the Ravens’ roster.
Fantasy Risk — Joe Flacco, QB
Joe Flacco is one of the highest paid players in NFL history, but he hasn’t even finished a season with a completion percentage of 60 percent in the last two years. Flacco’s inconsistencies are almost annoying to a point, because he gets so much credit for the Ravens’ winning. Flacco played out of his mind in the 2012 playoffs, but I don’t think that will carry over to the regular season. Flacco clearly knows how to step up his game come playoff time, and he is certainly capable of being a 300 yard-per-game quarterback, but you just don’t see that enough to believe he’s worth drafting as a #1 QB in fantasy football.
Flacco has had 42 touchdown passes over the last two seasons, which is a lower total than some players have in a single season nowadays. The Ravens are still a running offense, and while Flacco can air it out, I wouldn’t be fooled by the mirage that was his playoff run this past season. He also has 10 lost fumbles the last two seasons, and I think the is one of the most overrated players period in the NFL, and you’ll see that in most fantasy rankings, analysts are taking a major wait-and-see approach with Flacco.
The big thing Flacco has going for him is that he doesn’t make a lot of really poor throws, and he can rack up yardage. If that’s attractive to you, I think he’s worth a late-round backup QB pick.
Fantasy Breakout Star — Torrey Smith, WR
It’s the year of the ‘third year’ receiver in the NFL in 2013. Torrey Smith has caught a combined 99 passes in two NFL seasons, but he came up huge for the Ravens in the playoffs (save for the Super Bowl), and has proven to be more than just a vertical threat in a limited number of catches. Smith is certainly capable of making big plays, as he averaged over 17 yards per reception last season, but he is also good after the catch and is really growing as a leader on this Ravens team.
Smith’s ability to stretch the field and his 15 total receiving touchdowns in two NFL seasons indicate to me that he’s primed for a breakout season this year, especially being the clear #1 target in the Ravens’ offense. This is a guy who could be a top 15-20 fantasy football receiver this year, but you will be able to get him as a really good bargain. I think he could be had in the fifth round or later, but you may have a lot of players reaching for him since he is expected to be the #1 guy going into the season.
I really like Smith’s upside this season for fantasy football, and he could hit some big numbers like 80-90 catches for 1,400 yards and 10-12 TDs.