Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Grab this Baltimore Raven

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on

There's a lot to dislike about the fantasy prospects in Baltimore, but Ravens TE Dennis Pitta appears ready to help any fantasy football team he lands on.

Pitta didn't do much of anything last year. He spent the 1st 12 games on temporary IR after fracturing and dislocating his right hip on the 3rd day of training camp. The team thought at that point that he'd miss the season, but Pitta did make it back for the final 4 weeks.

He admitted in March, however, that he lacked some of his usual strength and explosiveness upon that return. That helps explain why Pitta played less than 46% of the offensive snaps in 3 of his 4 appearances.

But he should be back to 100% by training camp. And once he gets there, Pitta will find a coach who loves TEs.

New OC Gary Kubiak's Texans threw 24.6% of targets toward TEs last year, the league's 5th largest share. And that came with starter Owen Daniels missing half the season. That share also presented a big drop from the 33.6% cut for TEs in 2012 and 31.9% in 2011.

Daniels played 15+ games in just 4 of his 8 seasons under Kubiak in Houston. He finished those years 2nd, 2nd, 1st and 2nd on the team in targets. His 6.3 targets per game from 2007 on -- since he became a starter -- project to 101 over a full season.

Although Kubiak dragged Daniels along with him to Baltimore via free agency, Pitta's set to be the guy going forward. And Kubiak already told The Baltimore Sun back in February that game review left him "very impressed" with his new TE.

"I know he went through a tough year this year with getting injured, but that position has always been a big part of our offense," Kubiak said. "I'm sure it won't be any different."

Pitta does need to answer durability questions. Before last year's hip injury, he dealt with some thigh, knee and neck trouble in 2012, as well as concussions in 2012 and 2010. He did appear in 16 games in both 2011 and 2012, however, which makes it easier to project him for a full season this year.

Daniels' presence shouldn't scare you. The Ravens expect to run plenty of 2-TE sets, and the former Texan is clearly nearing the end of his career. He lost 26 games to injuries over the past 5 years and finished 2013 with his lowest receiving average (10.5 yards per catch) of any starting season in Houston.

Pitta's no explosive athlete, but Daniels averaged just 12.0 yards per catch with the Texans. Pitta averaged 11.0 per reception in his busiest season to date, which puts them in the same athleticism neighborhood. (For comparison's sake, Pitta also ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash at his Scouting Combine, vs. Daniels' 4.65.)

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

The only thing that kept Owen Daniels from perennial top 8 status in Houston among fantasy TEs was crappy durability. If Pitta can prove to be all the way back from his major 2013 hip injury in time for training camp, he'll get plenty of time to work into 1 of the league's most favorable TE situations. A healthy Pitta could land among his position's top 5 this season -- especially in PPR.

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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