For a sixth straight season, Razzball will be interviewing NFL-team blogs and site contributors for some actual in-depth football knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy football knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team for our Team Preview Series through the summer. This installment comes courteous of Brian Malan from the leading Baltimore Ravens blog: Baltimore Beatdown.
Joe Flacco finished 18th in fantasy points for a quarterback last season. Do you think he is worth drafting this year as a bench quarterback? Why or why not?
Not only do I think Joe Flacco is worth drafting this year as a bench QB, I think he is worth drafting as a starting QB for your fantasy team. That might be tough for some people to agree with given his history of putting up average numbers and now coming off a year where he had more interceptions than touchdowns. However, Flacco has also never had the type of offensive talent and particularly offensive scheme around him that he has now. Baltimore is deep at WR, deep at TE and has what looks to be a very talented O-Line to keep Flacco on his feet, which was the main reason for his fall off last year. Gary Kubiak is one of the most brilliant offensive minds in this league and has proved that over a long period of time. He will bring in a system that fits Flacco’s strengths while not trying to make him into something that he isn’t, which was the problem with the Ravens’ OC of the past.
This will be a serious bounce back year for Flacco, and I think in a 12-14 team league, he certainly warrants being a starter for your team. If Gary Kubiak can turn Matt Schaub into what he was for Houston for those few years, then he can certainly turn a former Superbowl MVP into a statistical monster.
We all know Ray Rice has his troubles. Do you now believe that he is no longer a RB1 or RB2 option for fantasy football? How do you see the Ravens’ backfield working this year?
I think last year was just sort of an off year for Ray, as it was the entire offense. The blocking just wasn’t there and that combined with a rare injury to Rice just didn’t make for a good season for the once top RB. Given how fast RB’s seem to fall off in the NFL, calling him a RB1 would be a bit of a stretch at this point. I do think that what we saw of Ray Rice last year was an outlier of the talent he still has in him, but I also think the days of Rice putting up 2,000 total yards of offense are in the past. Although Rice is going into his 7th season, he is still only 27 years old. However, he has a very large amount of touches dating all the way back to his college days under his belt. I would consider Rice to be a very good RB2 for a team this year, of course picking him up a little later than he should deserve because he is going to miss a couple games to start the season.
As for the Ravens backfield, we really do not know at this point. With Rice being suspended, it will have to be a RB by committee type deal to start the year. Bernard Pierce is entering his 3rd season and was a bit of a sleeper in his rookie year and heading into last year. Pierce fought much of the same problems Rice did last season with injuries and poor blocking, so I would expect him to be a solid option for the majority of the carries this season. The team is liking what they see out of veteran Justin Forsett as well, as he was with Kubiak in Houston for a bit and knows the system. He could very well fill the role of Ray Rice to start the year as a change of pace RB. But for the beginning of the season, I think we will see a passing team until we can get Rice back.
We know that Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta will produce some good fantasy games this year. Who else from the receiving core is worth keeping an eye on? Do you think there are any sleepers from this part of the offense?
Of course the first name that everyone should keep an eye on is Steve Smith. The 15 year veteran has been nothing short of impressive so far this offseason for Baltimore and should only continue to grow into this offense. Anyone who thinks this guy doesn’t have anything left in the tank is fooling themselves and he could be a prime candidate from some big time numbers in a few games this year. Do I think we see the Steve Smith of old? Of course not, but I don’t think a 700-900 yard season is out of question for him. He would be a great option to put in there if one of your top WR is on a bye week.
But the name I think to look out for that people might not have heard of is 2nd year WR Marlon Brown. He came to Baltimore as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia, coming off a major knee surgery and absolutely blew away any expectations people had for him. He was tops in the league amongst rookies in catches, yards and TD’s (49 rec – 524 yards – 7 TD’s) all while still rehabbing from that knee injury. He is a size mismatch for any DB standing at nearly 6’5” and was a favorite red zone target for Joe Flacco last season. I am uncertain of where he will go as far as catches and yards are concerned, but it would not surprise me to see Brown add onto those already impressive TD numbers from a year ago. In a deep fantasy draft, he will be a very solid option for your flex position.
Baltimore Ravens Offense Depth Chart
|Position||First Team||Second Team||Third Team|
|WR||Torrey Smith||Marlon Brown||Deonte Thompson|
|WR||Steve Smith||Jacoby Jones||Mike Willie|
|QB||Joe Flacco||Tyrod Taylor||Keith Wenning|
|RB||Ray Rice||Bernard Pierce||Justin Forsett|
|TE||Dennis Pitta||Owen Daniels||Crockett Gilmore|