For yet another season, Razzball will be interviewing local NFL beat writers for some in-depth actual football knowledge to sway some insight in our fantasy football knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team through the summer and check out each one on the “2012 Fantasy Football Team Previews” link. This installment comes courtesy of Brian Malan from the Baltimore Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown:
1) With Terrell Suggs a question mark for the start of the season coupled with the age of the veterans of the Baltimore Ravens defense, is there any concern for a step backward defensively in 2012 and how do you see the team overcoming Suggs’ absence if necessary?
I definitely think that a step backward will come about with this defense, but it will not be to the point where you see Baltimore as a “middle-tier” group. The loss of the DPOY certainly hurts and there is no possible way to replace him. All we can really do at this point is compensate for him by using a better scheme and a pass rush committee to get the job done. People have to remember that Suggs only (and I say only in the most respectful way possible) accounted for 14 of Baltimore’s 48 total sacks last season. So obviously, we have other really good players here that made up those 34 other sacks. Now, of course with teams double and triple teaming Suggs every snap, it opened up holes for others. However, this defense has talent at OLB and DE. We already know what Ngata can give us and the world caught a glimpse of McPhee and Kruger last year as they combined for 11.5 sacks in limited time. So seeing them full time could very well equal 17-20 sacks for us if they live up to the expectations that they have created for the fans and the team. Upshaw will give us something, as well as unknowns such as Arthur Jones at DE and even Sergio Kindle. Like I said, no one person can replace Suggs, but we will use a collective effort to replicate his production for us.
The one place where there will most likely be a fall off is actually run defense. Baltimore has lost 3 of it’s top 5 run stoppers from last year in Suggs due to injury and OLB Jarrett Johnson and DE Cory Redding both to Free Agency. Those guys were as good as you can get at setting the edge and stopping the run. We hope to see the young guys in Kruger, Upshaw and McPhee step up and not allow there to be a fall off in the forever dominant Baltimore Ravens run defense.
2) We at Razzball have Ray Rice as the top player for fantasy football for 2012 even though most places have it as Arian Foster. With ayurvedic specialist Ricky Williams moving on to ‘greener’ pastures, do you foresee as big of a year for him as we do or are we smoking a little too much?
Rice will still have a huge season. It is actually funny to say that at this point, 1,500 total yards of offense would actually be a disappointment for Ray Rice, but as we all know is still a stellar season. Rice will still see 275+ carries this year. He will more than likely see 50+ receptions. The point of football on the offensive side is to put the ball in your best playmakers’ hands, and Rice is the best playmaker on this team. We won’t let that get away. It is really a toss up between Foster, McCoy and Rice at the #1 spot because those 3 guys are just incredibly gifted RB’s, but drafting Rice #1 overall shouldn’t worry anyone.
3) Joe Flacco had a bit of a let down year as his stats and play seemed to regress back to 2009 levels. Is there any concern regarding Flacco this year, minus a major need for an eyebrow wax?
There may be concern for people outside of the Baltimore fan base and media system, but no for us. The guy does one thing, and has pretty much done it better than any QB in NFL history in the first 4 years….he wins. His stats may have dropped to a level that does not accurately portray the amount of talent he has, but Flacco stepped up in big time moments in big time games for Baltimore last year. In 8 games against teams that made the playoffs last season, these were the Flacco’s passing numbers. 148/241 (61.4%) – 1,872 yards (234 ypc) – 12 TD’s, 3 ints – 99 QB rating – 7 wins. Those are quality numbers for a QB who many think just doesn’t have “it.”
What many people do not realize is that the group Flacco was working with last year was so inexperienced. Ozzie Newsome decided to let go of Flacco’s two favorite targets in Todd Heap and Derrick Mason, and rely on a group that, outside of Boldin, had combined for 12 catches in their careers. Flacco was throwing to 3 rookie WR and two 2nd year TE’s in a lockout year. It was a rough start for Flacco, judging by how he only completed 47% of his passes through the first 5 weeks. However, over the last 12 games and into the playoffs, Flacco was completing 61% of his passes which is right at where he has been his whole career so far.
It may seem as a bit of a reach to some of the outside fans, but we feel that Flacco is very capable of throwing for 4,000 yards and 30 Touchdowns in 2012-2013. He finally has everything he needs as far as weapons go with Torrey Smith now a year older, Boldin healthy, an opposite deep threat in Jacoby Jones and a TE duo (Ed Dickson & Dennis Pitta) that combined for the 3rd most receptions of all TE duos in the NFL last year. Expect a big time year from Flacco this season.
4) Torrey Smith is being touted as a sleeper on seemingly every fantasy site. In fact, we’re almost close to joining the sheeple and writing one of our own. Is Torrey Smith ready to set the world ablaze in 2012?
I wouldn’t say he is ready to set the world “ablaze” in 2012, that would mean him having a season where he just flat out dominates in every game like a Calvin Johnson. But it is more likely that he will have that Mike Wallace type of impact this year where he catches about 65-75 passes for 1,050-1,150 yards and 7-10 TD’s. I guess those are still big numbers, but we have too many quality weapons on this offense for him to put up just absolutely staggering numbers like some of these others WR’s in the NFL do these days.
Torrey will have a great season for us and be a difference maker much like he was last year. I still see him as a good option for being a #2 WR in a 10-12 team league and definitely someone you will want to start at the Flex slot almost every week.
5) Last year there seemed to be two viable Tight Ends for fantasy purposes depending on which half of the season you watched the Baltimore Ravens: Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Granted, Dennis is dealing with a broken hand right now but is expected to be back at the beginning of the season. Injuries aside, is there a clear-cut #1 TE in Baltimore at this time and if there is, who in your opinion is it?
This has been a great debate for most Baltimore fans. There are those who think Dickson is the clear cut #1 because of his down field presence and big play abilities. And there are those who think Pitta is the #1 because of his insanely good catching abilities and knack for finding holes in zone defenses on 3rd down. Too be honest, I really don’t see a clear-cut #1 TE between either of them. They are both so talented in the own sense that we generally have both of them on the field at the same time. The duo combined for 91 catches last year, and I expect that number to go up this season with them both now having a full year of experience. As stated, there really isn’t a #1 TE at this point because each of them do certain things so well, but that is a pretty good problem to have if you ask me.