Ray Rice owners, now is the time to get giddy with excitement because given the matchup, there is no better back to start in week one than Rice against the Denver Broncos.
Obviously if you drafted Rice, you had no intention and weren’t even questioning sitting him anyway. He is a top-10 running back in standard formats and a top-five in PPR leagues, where he really is a ball-hawk. He is only two years removed from finishing as fantasy’s best back and while that title should comfortably rest in Adrian Peterson‘s hands for the second-straight year, having Rice as your top guy is nothing to complain about.
Considering that the Baltimore Ravens gave away Anquan Boldin via trade and Dennis Pitta to injury, Rice is going to be a huge factor in this offense all season long. He might end up surrendering a bit of his running workload to Bernard Pierce, but ultimately that shouldn’t hurt his weekly numbers, especially considering how involved he will now have to be in the passing game.
Rice has always been a great PPR back because of that, but this year, his value figures to increase. The Ravens will probably use a lot of short dump offs and screens for Rice, and once again, even if he doesn’t score all of the touchdowns, Rice will be an asset to your team.
And in week one, Rice is going to put up the best numbers of any running back whether in a standard or PPR format.
The matchup should have Rice owners salivating even if the fantasy projections don’t scream out “monster week.”
Last year, the Broncos had the third-best rushing defense in the league and one of the top fantasy squads as well. The only difference between this year and last, however, is that in 2013, the Broncos are without Elvis Dumervil, and for the first six weeks, without Von Miller.
Enter Rice, up the middle.
Dumervil and Miller combined for 29.5 of Denver’s 52 sacks last season and were a big part of why the rushing defense was so good. The two were able to clamp down on runningbacks and limit their production. On the season, Denver’s D allowed just four 100-plus-yard rushers, one of which was Rice in the Broncos’ only playoff game. Overall, though, that front line of the defense did its job.
But without Dumervil and Miller, not only do the Broncos lose the lion’s share of their sacks, but they also lose that ability to really stop the run. And Rice, who has a great ability when it comes to finding holes, is going to be greeted by quite a few in week one.
Rice has the opportunity and the matchup is golden. All he has to do is what he does best and run. And if he does that, expect for your team to have a nice points cushion heading into the weekend.