A weekly installment breaking down the Baltimore Ravens’ fantasy football options. This week’s tilt is against the New England Patriots on Sunday night in Baltimore. Break down rated on a 10 point scale.
Ray Rice 8/10
Rice had a solid day last week despite not scoring a touchdown. His 99 yards rushing and 53 yards receiving also look good considering how under-utilized Rice was in the Ravens’ loss. Rice wasn’t used once in short-yardage situations, and with many Baltimore drives stalling on short-yardage situations, expect a healthy dose of Rice. If Rice can keep those drives alive, expect him to hit paydirt at least once. The second reason to like Rice this week is that he has had some big games against the Patriots before, and almost always scores a touchdown against them. Rice is still a great option despite the Patriots’ rushing defense being ranked sixth in the league. A third reason to like Rice is that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has caught a lot of heat for throwing too much this season. Rice ranks 20th in the league in rushes, and with a 1-2 start hanging in the balance, expect Cameron to give the rock to his workhorse.
Prediction: 110 yards rushing, touchdown, 40 yards receiving
Joe Flacco 7/10
Flacco got worse as the game went on last week, but also had a beautiful touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones called back on a very questionable offensive pass interference call. Flacco struggled mightily on third down, which led to drives not ending in touchdowns. The bad is that Flacco is going against a Patriots’ passing defense that is only allowing 202 yards-per-game. The good is that the Patriots’ defense hasn’t faced the toughest litmus tests in Jake Locker and Kevin Kolb, so the unit may come back to Earth playing a formidable offense led by a better quarterback for the first time this season. Another positive for Flacco is that despite the high ranking, the Patriots defense has only registered three sacks and one interception. If Flacco is given enough time in the pocket, expect him to have a solid day against a team whose defense has not been opportunistic and may be a bit overrated at this point in the season.
Prediction: 270 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
Torrey Smith 6/10
Smith continued an alarming trend last week, as the speedster reeled in one deep ball, then did little else the rest of the game. Smith has yet to find the end zone and has not been targeted nearly as much as most number one receivers. Smith will be most likely covered by cornerback Devin McCourty who isn’t the strongest corner in the league so that may help Smith’s cause. If Rice can get the rushing attack going, expect to see a few big play-action shots to Smith. As usual, Smith is always one big play away from a big fantasy day, but at this point there are better options available.
Prediction: 3 receptions, 72 yards
Jacoby Jones: 7/10
Jones only had one catch last week, but it was a big one, as he burned Nnamdi Asomugha for a 21-yard touchdown. Jones burned Asomugha again for another touchdown, but was flagged for a pretty bogus offensive pass interference call negating the touchdown. Jones is the third wide receiver on the depth chart which may help his cause, as the Patriots’ defense should be focusing more on Rice, Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta. Jones showed he can burn a top-tier cornerback, and if he gets lost in the shuffle, Jones could catch another touchdown and become a more consistent option for Flacco.
Prediction: 52 yards, 1 touchdown
Dennis Pitta 8/10
Pitta has been Flacco’s favorite target through two weeks and is tied for third in the AFC with 13 receptions. Pitta and Flacco are good friends off the field, and that is leading to Pitta becoming Flacco’s go-to guy on the field. Again Pitta is still listed as the second tight end on the Ravens’ depth chart, but Ed Dickson has been mostly invisible during the first two games. Dickson reeled in Flacco’s first pass last week, then wasn’t heard from the rest of the game. Eventually, Flacco will start to spread the ball around more evenly as defenses will start to focus on Pitta. Until that happens, roll with the hot hand in Pitta.
Prediction: 6 catches, 82 yards, 1 touchdown
Ravens D/ST 6/10
Going against Tom Brady isn’t an ideal situation for your fantasy defense, and the Ravens’ 27th ranked defense may say this match-up is a mismatch. However, the Ravens’ defense was on the field for longer than they deserved last week, especially in the second half, as the offense continuously put the defense in tough spots. The defense did force four turnovers last week and they catch the Patriots at on opportune time, as tight end Aaron Hernandez will miss the game with an ankle injury. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd is also questionable (thigh) which could be big for Brady, as Lloyd leads the Patriots with 13 receptions and is second on the team in receiving yards. Strong Safety Bernard Pollard will return after he left last week’s game at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots will get their share of yards, but without Hernandez and possibly Lloyd, this match-up isn’t as bad as it could be.
Prediction: 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Justin Tucker 10/10
Tucker has been nothing short of spectacular in the first two games of his career. The undrafted rookie out of Texas was clutch last week, as he kept the Ravens ahead despite their sputtering offense. Tucker drained two 50-plus-yard field goals and is second in the NFL with 25 points scored. The Patriots defense presents a decent challenge to the Ravens’ offense, so expect some stalled drives, which means more chances for Tucker to build on his AFC-leading point total.
Prediction: 3/3 FG’s, 1 50+yard field goal, 3/3 XP’s