Fantasy football primer for the Ravens

So, you’ve decided to play Fantasy Football huh? Well then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a look at some of the Ravens choice fantasy players who may just help your team achieve greatness. Go ahead, start gloating now, it’s OK, we don’t mind waiting.

Joe Flacco, Quarterback,  3613 yards, 21 TD, 12 INT

This year’s up and coming fantasy golden boy. Seem’s like the NFL is quickly and quietly becoming Wacco for Flacco. Joe had a damn decent fantasy football season last year despite lackluster talent around him and an injury marred second half. Add in newcomers Stallworth and Boldin, a rejuvenated Todd Heap, and a somewhat easier schedule and that could spell great things for the young gunslinger. Joe is no longer just a solid backup option, he’s evolved into a decent starting option in medium to large depth leagues. If you’ve got 12-16 players drawing QB’s, Joe could be a good option for you in rounds four through eight.

Ray Rice, Running Back, 1339 yards Rush, 703 yards Rec, 8 TD, 3 Fumbles

The lilliputian superstar broke out in a huge way last year coming up just shy of Chris Johnson for the league’s most all purpose yards. Ray Rice is the Ravens’ best fantasy position piece and is tracking to go in the top 3-4 overall picks in most leagues. Don’t count on picking him up unless you’re drafting high in the first round. As for his stats this year much will depend on what the Ravens decide to do with Willis McGahee. Although Rice had a huge increase in his touchdown totals last year, Willis was scavenging a lot of his points late in the season. When it comes to playoff time Rice may hurt you more than he helps you. Also worth keeping an eye on is how Cam Cameron decides to position the offense. With the revamped passing offense, one would expect to see a sharp decline in the number of receiving targets that Ray Rice enjoyed last year.

Willis McGahee, Running Back, 544 yards Rush, 85 yards Rec, 14 TD, 1 Fumble

The self-proclaimed Mr. January, Willis McGahee is the perennial handcuff to Ray Rice. Long gone are the days when you could count on him for the monster yardage, McGahee serves primarily as a touchdown vulture. With near double the TD production of Ray Rice, Willis has a lot of value for deeper leagues and can be had in the later rounds of most any draft.  He’s not going to put up +10 points a game, but he will be a consistent threat to find the end zone and score you much needed points week in and week out. He’s especially valuable towards the fantasy post-season, when his carries usually increase.

Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, 1024 yards Rec, 4 TD, 3 Fumbles

The Ravens’ answer to Hines Ward, Anquan Boldin comes into Baltimore with massive expectations. Although largely overshadowed by Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona the last two seasons, Boldin looks to have a career year with the Ravens, hopefully returning to his 2008 numbers wherein he recorded +1000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. Boldin is a tough as nails gritty receiver who has made a living churning out yards after the catch. He’s currently the number two rated Ravens fantasy player behind only Ray Rice. Keep in mind though that as attractive as Boldin may seem, his numbers are similar to those of Derrick Mason, and will likely draw the double-team from opposing defenses.

Derrick Mason, Wide Receiver, 1028 yards Rec, 7 TD, 0 Fumbles

Reliable, steady, consistent, these are the words that describe Joe Flacco’s faithful receiver Derrick Mason. Year in and year out he has been the anchor keeping the Ravens offense alive and thriving. Sometimes he’s done it draped by two defenders, other times he’s done it with only one arm. A lot of fantasy players have been shying away from Mason after the addition of Stallworth and Boldin, however before you give up on him keep in mind that the man has been consistently double teamed for the last three seasons and STILL managed to put up +1000 yards each year. Couple that with the fact that he’s Joe’s go to weapon, and can be had in most leagues around the 10th and 11th rounds, he should be a sleeper pick that could help you win a ton of games.

Todd Heap, Tight End, 593 yards Rec, 6 TD, 0 Fumbles

After two down seasons, it looks like the Heap of old may have finally returned. Coming out with a renewed sense of determination and urgency, Heap has looked absolutely stellar in his first three pre-season games. A lot of fantasy players may shy away from Heap due to the additions of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson respectively, but if you’re in a deep league do not be afraid to take a flier. Heap has actual competition for the first time in his entire Ravens career, couple that with that fact that he won’t be relied upon to play every down, block every player, and still manage to get open, and I think he’ll have a great year fantasy wise.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but in standard 8-12 team leagues these are the players most often being drafted according to stats reported by ESPN and Sports Illustrated. For the first time in a long time, there are a number of Ravens who are poised for some real fantasy relevance. Keep an eye on these players to come in under the radar and make a giant splash as the 2010-2011 season gets underway.

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