While Ravens fans are still coming off their Super Bowl high in the big win over the 49ers last February, the team has made some noticeable offseason moves that will have an impact on the fantasy football value of a few players for the upcoming season.
Coming off a Super Bowl MVP performance, Joe Flacco became the newest $100 million man in the NFL ($120.6 to be exact). Unfortunately, his fantasy value isn’t translating quite as well as his NFL value would dictate. Flacco is currently ranked as the 16th quarterback taken off the board in leagues that have already drafted, going behind divisional rivals such as Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton. So while Flacco might be the biggest asset to the Ravens, his fantasy value is as nothing more than a QB2. I also don’t see that number rising anytime soon.
The most obvious reason is his stats. He simply doesn’t put up the numbers you’d expect from a top-notch to mid-tier QB1. In 2012, Flacco averaged 238 passing yards a game and 22 touchdowns. That adds up to roughly 13-15 points per game, depending on league scoring. When you consider other quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Tom Brady are hovering around 20 fantasy points or more a game, Flacco just isn’t cutting it.
The team also did themselves no favors by trading Anquan Boldin to the 49ers. While Boldin’s numbers never topped what he put up in Arizona, he was still the most consistent weapon in the Ravens’ passing game. Not to mention he was a favorite of Flacco’s, which was clearly noticeable throughout the team’s playoff run.
With Boldin gone, this leaves Torrey Smith as the team’s new No. 1 receiver. Smith has flashed big-play ability in the past, but we simply don’t know how he will look in his new role. This unknown does Flacco no favors. Although, it has helped Smith’s fantasy value climb over the past several months. Smith is currently ranked as the 24th overall fantasy receiver, listed between Pierre Garcon and Antonio Brown. Even though his value is climbing, I don’t see Smith ever being a WR1. While he does have that big play ability, he gets hot and cold from game to game. A good example of this was when he amassed 7 catches and 144 yards against the Chargers in Week 12 (2012), but cooled off with only 3 catches for 33 yards the next week against the Steelers. He’ll teeter on the brink of WR2/WR3 status, but he is too unreliable as anything more.
The rest of Baltimore’s receiving unit is too much of a question mark. Will Jacoby Jones be an eventual sleeper if he can work his body back into shape? Is there another receiver who will eventually see some sleeper value? Make sure to check out our fantasy football sleepers section for up-to-date options as they pop up during training camps.
In regards to the team’s fantasy value at running back, look no further than Ray Rice. There isn’t really a whole lot that can be said about Rice’s fantasy value that hasn’t already been touched upon before. He’s still an RB1 in both PPR leagues and non-PPR leagues, but could we be seeing a bit of a change in the Ravens backfield? Rice’s RB1 status stays afloat in non-PPR leagues because of his receiving yards, but his rushing yards from 2012 (1143) were the lowest since his rookie season (454). Plus his touchdown totals dropped to 10, which were 5 less than the previous year. There have been subtle rumors that the team wants to get backup Bernard Pierce more involved in the offense this season. We’ve seen players like this garner offseason hype before, but most don’t live up to it. However, that little trickle of "what if" keeps Rice’s value in a subtle state of limbo until we see what role he and Pierce will have during the regular season. Regardless of what Pierce does or doesn’t do this year, he is still a must-have handcuff to all Rice owners. The team used him enough last year to show me he can slide right in as a starter if Rice misses time with an injury.