Fantasy Team Previews: Baltimore Ravens

Fantasy Football NFL Team Fantasy Analysis

Baltimore Ravens

(Critical 4 game stretch)

Sept. 7 Cincinnati Bengals, 1

Sept. 11 Pittsburgh Steelers (Thu), 8:25

Sept. 21 at Cleveland Browns, 1

Sept. 28 Carolina Panthers, 1


The Ravens became the third team in the past five years to miss the playoffs the year after winning the Super Bowl. With injuries to key players such as, RB Ray Rice and TE Dennis Pitta, QB Joe Flacco threw more INT’s than TD’s in 2013 and the SB Champs offense sputtered badly last season. The Ravens offensive line was just as culpable as their $120 million QB. The unit, which played such an important part in the Ravens Super Bowl run the year before, never seemed to play with cohesiveness during any stretch of the season, as it also suffered injuries to key players such as Kelechi Osemele. As a result, the unit opened holes to the tune of a league worst 3.1 yards per carry by the running backs. They allowed 48 sacks; fourth worst in the NFL and an additional 91 QB hits. Instead of finishing the year with a Super Bowl MVP in his pocket, Joe Flacco was limping, as he battled a minor knee injury following one of those hits late in the year.

Enter former Houston Texans HC Gary Kubiak, who becomes the third OC in Baltimore since December of 2012. The hope is that Kubiak will bring with him the success of the zone blocking scheme he employed in Houston churning out top offenses with RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson.

If the Ravens offense is going to be successful, Ray Rice must have a bounce back season. In 2013, his eight fantasy points per game ranked 27th in the league (standard) and the 214 carries, 660 rushing yards, 3.1 yards per carry, four touchdowns, 58 receptions, and 321 receiving yards were the lowest of his career since his rookie season (2008).  Rice didn’t have a great offseason. Rice will sit the first games of the year, a suspension resulting from an assault charge against his now wife during an incident in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February.

Defense / Special Teams

The Ravens’ fantasy defense / special teams averaged less than seven points per game last season and ranked 19th among other fantasy DST.  They picked off 16 passes and sacked the quarterback 40 times.  After allowing 16.6 points per game in 2011, the Ravens’ defense has allowed more than 21 points per game in 2012 and 2013. Many of the yards that led to the increase in points came via the middle of the Ravens defense, which has always been traditionally one of the best in the league between the tackles. Gm Ozzie Newsome addressed that very issue during the NFL Draft when he selected linebacker CJ Mosley from Alabama and Timmy Jernigan from the BCS National Champion, FSU Seminoles. In fact, the Ravens have used eight of their first line picks in the previous two drafts rebuilding the middle of the defense and adding speed. HC John Harbaugh wants a top 5 unit in 2014, while that may be a stretch, finishing in the Top 10 is not.

The Ravens possess arguably the best kicker in the NFL in Justin Tucker. The former Longhorn tied for the league lead with six field goals of 50 yards while converting 93 percent of his chances. The Ravens re-signed Jacoby Jones to return kicks and as long as Mike Tomlin stays on the sideline, Jones should be as good as he’s been for the Ravens since arriving in 2012.

Top Fantasy Player: While Joe Flacco has been a winner during his career, he’s a bad fantasy QB but that doesn’t mean his WR’s aren’t’ worth drafting. Flacco has a nice chemistry with speedy WR Torrey Smith. The former MD Terp had 65 receptions LY with 1,128 yards and four TD’s. With a healthy Dennis Pitta and the addition of players like WR Steve Smith and TE Owen Daniels, Smith could get close to 1,400 and 10 TD’s this season.

Sleeper: Despite facing a suspension, Ray Rice should bounce back in 2014. He’s only 27 years old and showed up to OTA’s in great shape having reportedly lost 20 pounds in the offseason. He should be a bargain. After being drafted in the top five in nearly every fantasy league last season, Rice’s ADP in 2014 falls somewhere between the sixth and eighth round.


It will be interesting to see how much work the first team offense gets in the preseason. The Ravens start the 2014 season playing three straight division games and facing four defense that finished in the Top 13 LY. Three of them Cincinnati, Cleveland and Carolina finished in the Top 10. Whatever the Ravens plan to do on offense this year, they will need to have down by the time the August is finished. Starting in a hole with two or three division losses will not sit well the charm city faithful. If the Ravens can survive the first month of play and pick up a few wins in the middle portion — at Tampa Bay, Atlanta, at Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh, Tennessee — then they should finish strong over the final month. Baltimore will face the Dolphins, Jaguars, Texans and Browns in the final four weeks of the season. It means the Ravens will play five of their six divisional games by Week 9 – 

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