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Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills Fantasy Preview: Start’em, Sit’em

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Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills Fantasy Preview: Start'em, Sit'em

Ray Rice
Mitch Stringer-USA Today Sports

The Baltimore Ravens' away game against the Buffalo Bills features some key fantasy matchups, as well as some tough decisions for fantasy owners.

The Buffalo Bills’ porous rush defense, as well as Ray Rice’s return from injury, could yield a good day for both of the Ravens’ talented backs, Rice and Bernard Pierce. But are they both start-worthy?

C.J. Spiller has been a frustrating play for owners, as his battles with injury and inconsistency have left fantasy owners who invested a first-round pick in the young speedster wanting much more. Meanwhile, those who left their trust in the ageless veteran Fred Jackson have been rewarded.

Speaking of the young and talented, how will E.J. Manuel respond against the Ravens’ veteran defense? Manuel has only thrown one interception in spite of his subpar offensive line. If the line does not pick up its play a week after allowing eight sacks to the New York Jets defense, it could be a long day for Manuel, and a fun one for Terrell Suggs and owners of the Ravens’ D/ST.

And what about upside plays like Stevie Johnson and Torrey Smith? Smith has yet to find the end zone this year, and will be matched up against Pro Bowler Leodis McKelvin. Will he still get the targets as Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco’s primary option by default?

There are a lot of key fantasy questions to be answered on Sunday. Click along to find out how this game may break down, who to start, who to sit, and just maybe you will bring home a Week Four victory to your squad.

Alexander Diegel is a columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ItsaDiegel, "like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on google

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C.J. Spiller: Start

C.J. Spiller
Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

Spiller, an early first-round pick in most leagues, has been one of 2013's biggest disappointments due to injury and ineffectiveness. With that being said, he was a full participant in practice on Thursday, and this is an offense without a lot of playmakers. If this gets out of hand early, he could get a big boost in PPR leagues as a check down option.

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Fred Jackson: Start

Fred Jackson
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

Spiller should be back, so that will limit Jackson's effectiveness. For standard leagues, monitor Spiller come Sunday morning to make a final determination on the ageless running back. If you are in PPR, Jackson has surprisingly become the Bills' second-leading receiver and is still worth a start in this timeshare, especially in leagues 12 or deeper.

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Ray Rice: Start

Ray Rice
Evan Habeeb- USA Today Sports

Rice was another big-name back who struggled to get back on the practice field this week, and was listed as a limited participant on Thursday. Keep an eye on him, but if he's good to go, Rice should have a solid day against the Bills' 30th-ranked rush defense, even if they rest him late.

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Bernard Pierce: Start

Bernard Pierce
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

With Rice battling injury, I still like Pierce, one of the NFL's top understudies at running back. Expecting an early lead, there should be plenty of carries for Pierce against the Bills' lackluster run defense. I see Pierce carrying the load in the second half as they give Rice some extra rest to get healthy.

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Joe Flacco: Sit

Joe Flacco
Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

With only three touchdowns in three games, anyone who expected big things after Flacco's run through the postseason has been left disappointed thus far. The Ravens' QB should really only be in consideration deeper leagues, and with that being said, I don't see any reason why Baltimore would rely on Flacco's right arm while the Bills' porous run defense looks so inviting to the rushing game. Expect the Ravens to get up early and pound the rock with Pierce and/or Rice.

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Torrey Smith: Sit

Torrey Smith
Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

I don't see a lot of usage for Smith this week. The Bills' rush defense should open the door for the Ravens to run the ball all day. Smith will be lined up against two-time Pro Bowler Leodis McKelvin, so there just isn't any reason for Flacco to force the ball to his top wideout.

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E.J. Manuel: Sit

EJ Manuel
Anthony Gruposso-USA Today Sports

Let's hope you are not in a dire enough situation that this is a legitimate predicament. The rookie has all the talent, but he's just not a consistent play yet. With that being said, there is a legitimate chance that there could be some garbage time points waiting for Manuel in the fourth quarter. Still, it's not something I would want to bank on.

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Stevie Johnson: Start

Stevie Johnson
Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

I see this game going one of two ways: Either one of those "hey look, the Bills are hanging tough with the Ravens" games, or a blowout. Either way, it should be good for Stevie Johnson. When the Bills are rolling, Johnson is the primary beneficiary. If it's a blowout, there will be some easy fourth quarter receptions, and maybe a touchdown for the Bills' top playmaker.

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Baltimore Ravens' D/ST: Start

Terrell Suggs
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA Today Sports

After reaching the infamous negative point status in Week 1, the Ravens' D has rebounded quite nicely. Terrell Suggs and the pass rushers should be licking their chops at an O-Line that just allowed eight sacks to the Jets. E.J. Manuel has just one interception thus far, but against a veteran D that will bring the heat all day, I see pick no. 2 in his not-too-distant future.