Over the past three seasons Ray Rice has ran for 3,727 yards rushing yards, third most behind only Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. The sixth year veteran is as complete a running back as they come as he not only gets it done on the ground but also has a great pair of hands out of the backfield (60+ receptions in past four seasons).
The added receptions gives Rice an elevated amount of touches over the span of a season which is something fantasy owners drool over. The 5-foot-8 running back has had over 310 touches in each of the past three seasons, but ever since recording 307 carries back in 2010 those numbers have been dwindling down.
Head coach John Harbaugh made it known that he wanted to preserve Rice during the season and started giving more carries to then rookie Bernard Pierce. Pierce made the most of his opportunities, gaining 532 yards on just 108 carries (4.9 YPC). The somewhat timeshare of carries even carried over to the postseason where Rice saw 84 carries and Pierce saw 39.
As the 2013 season rolls around don’t be surprised to see more of the same trend, as the days of Ray Rice flirting with 300 carries are long gone. But where he will suffer in carries he will still make up for in receptions to keep him in the top tier of running backs.
One last important note: long time lead blocker and best fullback in football, Vonta Leach (seen blocking in picture above), is no longer on the team which could have a small effect on his value.
Rice’s average draft position going into this week is at #7 overall. Look for players like Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles, and Doug Martin before Rice as they will not be sharing carries as often as Rice on their teams.