2013 Fantasy Football Week Three Dark Horse: Baltimore D/ST

By Dustin Manko
Baltimore DST
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a Super Bowl championship, the Baltimore Ravens revamped almost their entire defense. Between the Super Bowl hangover and the new players learning to work together, Baltimore clearly hasn’t played at the level fantasy owners know is possible. I know they haven’t performed as well as owners have been expecting so far this season, but the Ravens D/ST could break out today, despite being started in only 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

The Houston Texans are banged up. Earlier today, I wrote about Terrell Suggs being a sneaky IDP option for this week. Duane Brown will not be playing, which for a run first team like Houston is a huge loss. Brown is one of the best left tackles in the NFL and without him, there will be significantly less room for Arian Foster and Ben Tate to operate. Baltimore comes into the game ranked seventh in the NFL rushing defense. Houston is a run first team trying to get Foster going, but he has been less effective than Tate in the running game, neither back has a good fantasy outlook today.

The loss of Brown is also going to impact Matt Schaub’s chances of staying upright. Entering the game as the ninth most sacked quarterback, Schaub will be on the move with threats like Elvis Dumervil, Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty and Arthur Jones coming from every angle. Add Suggs into that mix and the Ravens have nearly 200 career sacks coming after Schaub.

Top receiver Andre Johnson has been cleared to play, but might not be at his best after recovering from his week two concussion. After Johnson, the Texans receiver corps has a significant drop. In dynasty leagues, I’m a buyer on DeAndre Hopkins, but his numbers have been inflated due to Houston trailing in games and needing to catch up. The same thing goes for Owen Daniels, who has been solid, but can’t count on getting three touchdowns every two games. Sooner or later, he will slump. TE2 Garrett Graham is questionable with injuries to his hip and groin.

Against a Ray Rice-less Ravens, I really doubt the Texans will be down enough to abandon the running game and go pass heavy. While the Baltimore secondary is nothing to write home about, that could actually help the team D/ST fantasy outlook this week. If Houston can get a lead, they traditionally go run heavy, and that would lead back to the loss of Brown becoming a factor, effectively running Houston into the strength of the Baltimore defense, instead of passing at the weaknesses they have in the secondary.

Often special teams are forgotten about in standard scoring leagues, but Tandon Doss could also be in for a decent game, currently ranked third in the league in yards per punt return, although Houston has been very solid on punt returns.

I’m not saying that you need to sit the Seattle Seahawks defense for Baltimore, but if you can buy low, don’t like your regular D/ST matchup, or see them on the wire, this could be the right week to go back to the champs.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2013/09/21/fantasy-football-week-3-start-bernard-pierce/

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