QB Joe Flacco (Baltimore)
7/28/13: Anquan Boldin was Joe Flacco’s leading receiver last year and Dennis Pitta was the guy who was supposed to step up as the top complement to 3rd year deep threat Torrey Smith. Now Pitta is out for the season with Boldin gone and it’s just Torrey Smith and a bunch of question marks in the receiving corps. Flacco will make do because that’s what good quarterbacks do. He might not have a secondary go to receiver, but he’ll throw the ball around and I do believe that a full season of Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Jim Caldwell at offensive coordinator will help him and that he should be able to maintain some of his post-season gains. But I’m obviously knocking down a bit with Pitta done for the year.
Throughout his 5 year career, he’s been a very inconsistent week to week quarterback, but an incredibly consistent year to year quarterback, proving himself to be a slightly above average quarterback and nothing more. His completion percentages have always fallen between 57.6% and 63.1%. His YPAs have always fallen between 6.7 and 7.4. His touchdowns have always fallen between 20 and 25 (with the exception of his rookie year) and his interceptions have always fallen between 10 and 12. Of course, that all changed in the post-season and while I don’t expect him to keep that up, I do expect him to have his career best regular season this year.
Projection: 3900 passing yards 26 touchdowns 11 interceptions 70 rushing yards 2 touchdowns (257 pts standard, 309 pts 6 pt TD leagues)
RB Ray Rice (Baltimore)
Ray Rice’s 257 carries in 2012 were his lowest since 253, when Willis McGahee was still around. With Bernard Pierce coming on as a very capable backup, that number could be even lower this season. The good news, however, is that Rice averaged a career high 5.3 YPC in 2009 when his carries were lower and Pierce’s presence will help him stay fresh. Also with Anquan Boldin gone, expect Rice’s catch total to be closer to his career high of 78 than his 4-year low of 61 in 2010. The only concern is if the bigger Pierce starts taking away goal line carries, but there are no indications that will happen.
Projection: 240 carries for 1130 rushing yards 10 total touchdowns 75 catches for 650 yards (238 pts standard, 313 pts PPR)
RB Bernard Pierce (Baltimore)
Pierce came on big time down the stretch as a 3rd round pick rookie. Playoffs included, he rushed for 734 yards on 147 carries last year, a 5.0 YPC clip. In his final 12 games, including playoffs, he rushed for 586 yards on 117 carries. He’ll probably see about half of Rice’s carries, but because he doesn’t do much in the passing game, the only way he becomes a fantasy starter is if the ever durable Rice gets hurt or he starts stealing goal line carries. He’s still a very valuable handcuff and arguably the best backup running back in the NFL.
Projection: 130 carries 620 rushing yards 5 total touchdowns 12 catches for 80 yards (100 pts standard, 112 pts PPR)
WR Torrey Smith (Baltimore)
7/28/13: Smith gets a stock up with Pitta going down because he’s really their only reliable receiver remaining. The Ravens are really hoping that the talented young receiver finally puts everything together and has a breakout year in his 3rd year in the league and even if he doesn’t take a big leap forward in terms of his play, he should have a much better statistical year based purely on the sheer number of targets he’ll receive.
The Ravens will need Torrey Smith to step up opposite him as the new #1 receiver with Anquan Boldin gone. Smith has flashed in his first two years in the league after the Ravens took him in the 2nd round in 2011, catching 50 passes for 841 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2011 and 49 passes for 855 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012, but he’s yet to put it all together as a consistent receiver and something more than just an inconsistent deep threat. However, going into his 3rd year in the league, a year when young receivers typically breakout, he’s got a very good chance to. With Boldin gone, he should get a career high in targets and have his best statistical season, possibly going over 1000 yards.
Projection: 63 catches for 1100 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns (164 pts standard, 227 pts PPR)