When you think about fantasy football sleepers, it’s often hard to imagine a player like Ravens running back Ray Rice on the list. After an off-season that included an incident with his wife Janay and skeptics all over saying Rice will never be the same, it’s time for the Baltimore back to prove that he can come back better than ever in a 2014 season where the Ravens will need him desperately.
Rice – along with the entire Ravens team – plays with a ton of heart. He is one of the most passionate offensive weapons in the AFC North, and there’s nobody more upset about his two-game suspension than him. During the time he’s off the field, he’ll be focused and training to come out in Week Three against Cleveland on fire – a week where you’ll want to play him in fantasy football.
Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, and Lorenzo Taliaferro will carry the load for the first two weeks, but none of them should be started unless you insert Pierce as a flex. Both the Bengals and Steelers are on the schedule, and neither defense is going to give up a tremendous amount of fantasy points to these guys.
Once Week Three rolls around however, you might want to consider putting Rice in your starting lineup as a sleeper pick that has the potential to have a huge performance.
The Browns defense is no slouch, but Rice will be ready to rock and roll in a Ravens offense that will rely heavily on the ground game. Joe Flacco isn’t the guy to carry a huge load for an extended period of time, so having his featured tailback in the starting lineup will prove to be huge for the Ravens and fantasy lineups all across the country.
Rice reportedly showed up to camp more in shape, and a few pounds thinner than he was last year. He’ll still have the potential to be a force up the middle, but offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak might want to work the Rutgers alum off-tackle as much as he can. Kubiak loves the run game, and there’s no reason that Rice won’t be a major factor in the 2014 offensive attack.
What do you have to lose here? Stick Rice on your bench, and see what he can do his first few weeks back. Heck, make a trade for someone who doesn’t really pay attention in your league. You’ll benefit in the end thanks to Rice’s commitment to the game, and Kubiak’s dedication to the run game.