Fantasy Tour Around the NFL, Part IV: The Baltimore Ravens

We jumped back on our fantasy bus and careened down the New Jersey Turnpike for our fourth stop on our Fantasy Tour Around the NFL, M&T Bank Stadium, home to the Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore

2010 Team Stats

Rushing Att./Yards/TDs: 487/1,831/11

Passing Att./Yards/TDs/INTs: 491/3,335/25/10

Defense/Sp. Teams Sacks/Turnovers/TDs: 27/34/4

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco

Quarterback Joe Flacco was hit more times last year than most starting QBs.

Joe Flacco: Since being drafted by the Ravens in 2008, Flacco has been a consistently efficient quarterback, with a career QB rating of 87.9. Last year was his best yet. He threw 306 completions from 489 attempts for career highs in passing yards (3,622), passing touchdowns (25) and touchdowns per attempt (5.7%), while also achieving a career low in interceptions, throwing just 10. He was, however, sacked 40 times (25th highest team total in the league) and hit 79 times (23rd in the league). It’s not a terrible situation, but it’s worth considering if you’re struggling with rankings when your fantasy draft comes around. He’s also told the Baltimore Sun that he wants a contract extension, saying “I would feel that after three years, you can make a decision on whether you want me to be your future quarterback or whether you don’t. It’s your decision.” I think the Ravens would be crazy not to grant Flacco’s wish, but his unhappiness is also worth thinking about if he’s on your draft boards.

Marc Bulger, Hunter Cantwell: If Flacco goes down, don’t be the guy who snaps up one of these guys with a grin. Bulger is a free agent, so he probably won’t even be with the Ravens in 2011, and Cantwell doesn’t even have a profile on Pro-Football-Reference.com, which to me means he LITERALLY DOESN’T EXIST! Whoever the backup in Baltimore ends up being, don’t touch him with a ten foot pole.

Running Backs

Ray Rice: After his breakout 2009 season, Rice gained less yards and scored less touchdowns on more carries in 2010. His 2009 rushing average of 5.3 yards per carry dropped to 4.0 in 2010, and he had 15 less receptions last season than in the season before. He still kicked ass. His 1,776 combined yards for 6 combined touchdown put him at tenth on ESPN’s fantasy running back rankings. News of the Ravens looking to cut ties with McGahee’s contract, and McGahee’s agent saying that he won’t return to the Ravens for anything less definitely bodes well for Rice’s value in 2011.

Willis McGahee

Where will Willis McGahee land in 2011, and who will replace him in Baltimore?

Willis McGahee: It’s certainly looking like he won’t be in Baltimore in 2011, but it should be interesting to see where he lands. He’s just 29, and has had just 379 attempts in the last three seasons, yet has scored 24 touchdowns. He could potentially become the feature back in someone’s offense in 2011.

Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele: Without McGahee in the picture, the second RB slot will most likely be filled either by fullback LeRon McClain or third-year man Jalen Parmele. McClain was Baltimore’s leading rusher in 2008, with 232 carries for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns, but after Lorenzo Neal left the Ravens in the 2009 off-season, McClain took over the fullback role. His hard-nosed running style would be good to replace McGahee’s (especially on the goal line), but NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano thinks he too will leave in free agency, leaving the number two role up to Parmele. After being drafted in the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins in 2008, he was waived in Week 3 and has spent the last 2 years returning kicks for the Ravens. Ravens beat reporter Aaron Wilson tweeted on March 1 that Baltimore had extended his original round tender to try and acquire the restricted free agent.

Wide Receivers

Anquan Boldin: Boldin had 64 catches for 837 yards in 2010, both career lows for any season apart from his 2004 year, which was limited to just 9 starts due to injury. He did, however, catch 7 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if he’ll be able to improve on those numbers with another year in Harbaugh’s system, but I wouldn’t be too confident in this veteran improving as he turns 31 in 2011.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

34 in September, T.J. Houshmandzadeh will be shutting up shop soon.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Donte’ Stallworth: Both are unrestricted free agents this off-season, and coach Jim Harbaugh is unsure whether we’ll see them in Ravens uniforms in 2011. Housh has expressed interest, while Stallworth has said he wants an increased role in an offense, whether that’s in Baltimore or elsewhere. Either way, neither of them are great fantasy options. Housh will turn 34 in 2011, and Donte’ hasn’t been the same since he played a minor role in the 2007 New England Patriots.

Derrick Mason: Mason turned 37 in January this year, but he still caught 61 balls for 802 yards and 7 scores in 2010, and according to BaltimoreRavens.com he plans not to retire. However, I don’t think he’s a viable fantasy option in 2011, if he does in fact play.

Tight Ends

Todd Heap: Heap will be entering his 11th season in 2011, and I’d say he’ll probably end up in the top 15 in fantasy scoring, like he always does. If the Ravens don’t do anything big to fix their wide receiver woes (in case you didn’t notice, they had just four wideouts with receptions last year, two are probably not with the team next year and a third is 37), Heap could see a slight increase in targets.

Ed Dickson: When Heap was injured in 2010, Dickson picked up his slack nicely for a Rookie, but isn’t worth a roster spot unless Heap hits long-term injury trouble in 2011.


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