They may have been one field goal away from a potential Super Bowl appearance (nice kick, Billy), but there’s no doubt that the 2011 Ravens needed a little help on offense this off-season. Help that they just didn’t get.
The Ravens finished 15th in total yards last year in the NFL, and the majority of the Baltimore offense was irrelevant to fantasy football. While we saw Ray Rice post the best numbers by any running back in the league, we saw mediocre fantasy play from quarterback Joe Flacco and his receivers.
I don’t expect much to change this season.
Expect the same kind of year from…
Joe Flacco. The quarterback position is so deep this season, and there’s no reason we should expect Flacco to be part of that third-tier group of quarterbacks.
Flacco is consistent; I’ll give him that. He’s just consistently mediocre. He threw for just 20 touchdowns last season, and had some trouble with his accuracy. He plays in a division with above average secondary play, and didn’t get any help in the off-season.
Joe will be a middle-of-the-road fantasy fill-in. Expect a 15th or 16th ranked fantasy quarterback that will be in and out of free agency in most league types and formats. There could be games where he posts great numbers given the explosiveness of Torrey Smith, but Flacco is by no means a starter.
The most up-and-coming Raven is…
Torrey Smith. This guy can fly. We were introduced to his speed during Week 3 when the Ravens played St. Louis, as Smith grabbed 3 touchdowns and had 152 yards receiving. The problem is, we also saw him have 10 games with 3 or less receptions.
He’s a threat this year. He’s the definition of a high risk, high reward player. And it’s not because he’s a second year receiver. In fact, within my book, I discredit the whole “third year is the breakout year for a receiver” theory. The truth is, second year receivers have just as good a chance to put up significant numbers as much third year receivers do.
Smith’s youth is only a partial reason why he’s a gamble as the 26th ranked wide receiver. Look, you want to win in fantasy football, and to do so, you need to get players that can outplay others at their positions during any given week. If half of Torrey Smith’s production was favorable, then I’d say he’s a steal in Round 7. Look at how DeSean Jackson has been throughout his career. But while Torrey Smith seems to fit this “go big or go home” mold due to his speedy play, we need realize that he’s not there yet because he hasn’t proven it yet. That’s why he’s a gamble.
Torrey could realistically finish as low as 40 and as high as 15 at wide receiver this year. I’m not saying you should stay away from him, but I’d be ready to get more consistency with another wide receiver or two on your team if you do get him.
You shouldn’t overlook the talent of…
Anquan Boldin. While we saw him as somewhat of a bust last season, his numbers were arguably just as favorable as the ones he posted in 2010, his first season as a Raven. In fact, his average yards per game went up by 9, his average yards per reception by 2, and his receptions per game by .1. The main reason his fantasy production dropped was because he couldn’t get into the end zone, and he missed two games due to injury. We shouldn’t look at touchdown production with receivers, though, as it’s easily the most unstable statistic for the position from year to year.
He’s currently ranked around the 37 spot at wide receiver in most league types and formats. While I don’t think he’s going to crack the top 20 this season, I do think that he’s a value pick at his current position. He can become a very solid backup at wide receiver on your fantasy squad.
Boldin has had an up-and-down career from a numbers perspective, and was only really dominant in 2005. And yes, I’m a big fan of a high risk, high reward player as backup, but if you’ve got one starting in your lineup, getting Boldin as a backup to that player could be a good bet.
Don’t count on Boldin to be your starter, but count on him to be a good fill-in.
The one word to describe the 2012 Ravens is…
Static. I expect Flacco to remain the same type of quarterback he’s been, and unlike the two other teams I’ve analyzed thus far in this 32 in 32 series, the Ravens are clearly a lower risk, lower reward team. We can credit it to the fact that their playmakers are more experienced; we know what to expect from them.
Ray Rice should finish as a top 5 back. Joe Flacco should be a waiver wire guy, and Anquan Boldin should be a backup wideout. Torrey Smith is the one gamble this team has. If you like his chances, then I can’t fault you for taking him. He has a pretty high ceiling.