Fantasy Football 2013: Fantasy 32; Baltimore Ravens

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

 

Sooner or later, we had to discuss the Super Bowl champions, right?

The Baltimore Ravens continue the Fantasy 32 series, and boy has this team changed a bit? Of course, they lose Ray Lewis to retirement, Ed Reed to the Texans and Anquan Boldin (who they were going to release anyway) to their Super Bowl opponent 49ers. With that being said, what is the fantasy outlook for the 2013 Ravens?

Quarterback

He’s a Super Bowl champion and a Super Bowl MVP, but is Joe Flacco a trustworthy fantasy quarterback? I’ll give you a hint. The answer is no. Sure, Flacco orchestrated an incredible Super Bowl run, in which he played mistake-free football. But we have seen the inconsistency of Flacco. One week, he will look like the big quarterback in command of an offense and the next, he’ll pass for 140 yards and multiple interceptions. There will continue to be that ongoing debate on whether or not Flacco is an “elite” starting quarterback. Is he? I honestly cannot tell you that, but from a fantasy perspective, he isn’t even close. He has never been close to tossing for 4,000 yards and has yet to throw more than 25 touchdowns in a season. The departure of Boldin is a bigger loss than some people may realize. During the postseason, Boldin produced some of the best numbers from a wideout in playoff history, catching 22 balls for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Perhaps new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell continues to implement Flacco’s incredible arm into the play calling more, but I’m not sold on Flacco from a fantasy perspective.

Running Back

How consistently awesome is Ray Rice? I mean, he’s so consistent that I have consistently drafted him over the last four years in one of my leagues. He’s posted at least 1.500 total yards from scrimmage in every season expect his rookie campaign, and is as good a bet as any to score double-digit touchdowns each and every year. Honestly, there really isn’t much to say about Rice. For the past few seasons, he has been one of the safest fantasy running backs to invest in. Not only is he a strong runner out of the backfield, but no running back has caught more passes (311) than Rice has over the past five seasons. Interestingly enough, Rice stated that he wants to become even more involved in the passing game. Hey, no complaints here. Despite the probable boost in production from backup Bernard Pierce, Rice still remains a top-five pick in drafts this Summer.

Wide Receiver 

Like I said, Boldin is gone, which hurts an already hit or miss position fantasy wise. Still, big play threat Torrey Smith is still in town and has an ideal opportunity to emerge into a legitimate number one wideout in Baltimore. Of course, Smith is incredibly hot and cold. The 24-year old speedster scored five or fewer fantasy points in eight games last season, and is home/road splits drove fantasy owners crazy.

At home in 2012: 27 catches for 507 yards and seven touchdowns

On the road in 2012: 22 catches for 348 yards and one touchdown.

The guy only had 49 catches all season long, which is far less than a handful of running backs had last year. Were those awful road splits a result of Flacco too struggling on the road? Perhaps, but Smith obviously has a tremendous ceiling. He has great speed and can go up and make difficult catches, and remember, is only 24. The inconsistency is enough to keep me away, if possible, but he has plenty of opportunity, which makes him relevant in fantasy football. He’s inside my top-30 of my wide receiver rankings.

Tight End                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Love, adore, fond of. These are a few words to explain how I feel about Dennis Pitta as a fantasy tight end in 2013. With Boldin gone, there is no doubt that Pitta will become Flacco’s number one target in the passing game. Pitta caught 61 passes last season, which was 12 more than Smith and only four less than Boldin. Both Boldin and Pitta would often find themselves catching passes over the middle.

Some great stuff by Denny Carter of The Fake Football. During games in which Boldin was the main producer in the passing game, Pitta was almost invisible. And, of course, when Pitta was the go-to guy, Boldin was quiet. I insist you click on that link and check out those numbers. Anyway, with Boldin gone, there is no reason to believe Pitta won’t be that red zone guy for Flacco. Simply put, Pitta will see a much larger role in Caldwell’s possible gun slinging offense. I think Baltimore will line Pitta up all over the place, including the slot and expect him to gain those touchdowns the Ravens will lose from Boldin.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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