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Fantasy Football Draft Advice: Baltimore Ravens

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With the 2011 NFL season underway, it's beginning to get close to that all-important Fantasy Football Draft. When selecting your team's players this year, there will be a lot to consider, since the recent free agent and trading frenzy has resulted in many changes from the 2010 season. No longer can you just rely on the same top three or four running backs being the top picks and with the injury news on Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning, can you count on him like you have in the past?

As far as the Baltimore Ravens, some things have become clearer over the past week of practice, even though Training Camp has just begun. RB Ray Rice will continue to be a top pick, both for his rushing and pass catching abilities. the recent signing of FB Vonta Leach should only increase the expectations of improving over his 2010 season, which should more than likely make Rice a first round pick in most leagues.

QB Joe Flacco seems to be a more driven, focused and capable QB, and while he might have even gone undrafted in many leagues in the past, he is now arguably a top ten QB in the NFL and while that doesn't always translate equally to the fantasy football rankings, he will be a mid-level QB and could very well have a great fantasy football season.

Wide receivers are a question, as of this writing nothing is definite on the possibility of Derrick Mason returning to the team. Either way, Anquan Boldin is an excellent option, but the uncertainty of who will be on the receiving end of Flacco's passes makes rookie Torrey Smith and tight end Ed Dickson nothing more than late-round picks or even waiver wire pick-ups once the season begins and consistency is determined.

The Ravens defense will continue to be a solid play and one of the first off the board in most fantasy drafts of team defenses. They continue to be thought of as a top five squad, and with Ed Reed patrolling center-field, their turnovers and ability to score off of them should continue to make them an attractive draft prospect.

Finally, the kicking game is not to be overlooked, as placekicker Billy Cundiff has one of the stronger and more accurate legs in the league. He may be more known for his record-breaking season of kickoff touchbacks, but he is now a viable option inside the 50-yard line, if not longer, and therefore should be grabbed when the run on kickers begins late in the draft.

In the past, the Baltimore Ravens, while an annual playoff contender in the real NFL, have not been overly attractive on the offensive side in fantasy football. This should change in 2011, with the growth of Joe Flacco being the main reason and everything else flowing from his success.