Fantasy Football Bench Warmer Ray Rice

Ray Rice

Brad Mills – USATODAY

You probably spent a first round pick on Ray Rice, but with a nagging left hip flexor strain and a tough matchup with the Houston Texans coming to town, the Baltimore Ravens‘ stud tailback needs to spend Week 3 on your fantasy football bench.

After Thursday’s practice, reports came out that Rice was “no longer limping”, hinting that his chances of playing on Sunday increased. Am I the only one to notice that there is a very big difference between “not limping” and being healthy enough to lead an NFL running attack? The Texans’ run defense has yet to allow a score, and with opponents only managing 3.8 yards per carry, they are a difficult matchup for any healthy RB. Rice is a versatile back who can make plays in the passing game, but this Texans defense has held opposing starting running backs (Ryan Mathews and Chris Johnson) to a mere three catches for 23 yards. Expecting Rice to step right in and offer even top 20 numbers this week after missing an entire week of practice and having limited mobility is a mistake that you can avoid by sitting the All-Pro.

In addition to Houston’s ability to limit the fantasy production of running backs, Baltimore’s offense has been run through Joe Flacco more than ever. The Ravens trail only the Kansas City Chiefs (who have played three games) in total pass attempts with 95. With the Texans stopping the run at an elite level and having given up six touchdown tosses through two weeks, is there any reason to think that Ravens will force feed Rice if he suits up at all?

Bernard Pierce (the team’s leading rusher this year) is in line for an extended workload regardless of Rice’s availability, and while he has struggled to find a rhythm this season (2.8 yards per carry), he did average an impressive 4.9 yards per tote on 108 attempts last season. Rice gained only 54 yards last season against these Texans, and a similarly disappointing performance should be expected from the bruised back this weekend.

Running back options I prefer this week include: Joique Bell (assuming Reggie Bush is functioning at less than 100 percent), Fred Jackson, and Giovani Bernard


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