Ravens Fantasy News
Monday, July 28, 2014, 9:26am
As expected, Ray Rice did not appeal his two-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, meaning that the running back will be sidelined for the Ravens' Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and their Sept. 11 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rice also was fined three total game checks, which equates to $529,000, by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Ravens’ running back, who was accused of striking his now-wife, Janay, unconscious during an altercation in the elevator of an Atlantic City, N.J. casino in February, learned of the suspension Thursday, before the team’s first full-squad workout of training camp.
He had a three-day window to appeal the two-game ban, but that has now elapsed without action from Rice.
Rice can still participate in training camp and in the four preseason games. Bernard Pierce is expected to start the first two games, however, they are shaping up to be pretty tough matchups.
Friday, July 25, 2014, 12:31pm
Wide receiver Steve L Smith put on a show in his first training camp practice with the Ravens. He started by faking out cornerback Lardarius Webb to get open for an out route and then beat Chykie Brown and Webb again on deep passes. The Ravens expected Smith to raise the intensity level of practice when they signed him as a free agent. He certainly didn't disappoint.
Smith will likely see the third-most targets behind Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta. Anquan Boldin finished #34 and #30 as the Ravens' WR2 in 2011 and 2012, respectively, so that's probably Smith’s ceiling as he joins a new team. At 35, he’ll more likely finish as a spot starter/fantasy reserve, though if he keeps dominating practice, he may work his way into a fantasy WR3 role.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 11:46am
Ravens CB Aaron Ross tore his Achilles running a conditioning test.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hand down a two-game suspension to Ray Rice for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, sources confirmed Thursday. The league has not officially announced the suspension.
The general consensus was that Rice would get a four-game ban, so this is good news for his fantasy value and bad news for Bernard Pierce who will have a tough time establishing himself as the RB1 in two division games against the Bengals and the Steelers.
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce told The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday that he will be able to practice with no restrictions at training camp after undergoing shoulder surgery in January. The Ravens are preparing for a potential Ray Rice suspension with a committee attack including Pierce, Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro. After a promising rookie season, Pierce turned in a disastrous 2013 campaign, hampered by shoulder, hamstring, toe and knee injuries behind a blocking scheme that failed to consistently open holes. Now healthy, Pierce is optimistic about a bounce-back season in new coordinator Gary Kubiak's successful zone-blocking scheme.
Pierce figures to start if/when Ray Rice is suspended to start the season, and though unlikely, he could run away with the job. He was just as bad (2.9 YPC) as Rice was (3.1 YPC) last season, so both players are expected to bounce back in Gary Kubiak's offense.
Monday, July 21, 2014, 11:28am
Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec: The guy to watch is running back Bernard Pierce, who had offseason shoulder surgery. Pierce was limited during the various offseason minicamps, though he looked in good shape and raring to go. If he has been cleared for contact, it will be a nice development for the Ravens, especially with Ray Rice’s suspension announcement looming. I was going to write “with Rice’s suspension imminent,” but that’s what I’ve been thinking for about three weeks now. It has been exactly five weeks since Rice and his wife met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in New York. Goodell has plenty of other disciplinary issues on his plate, so I have no idea what the holdup is in making the decision on Rice. I would have guaranteed you earlier this month that the Ravens would know how long Rice would be sidelined before the start of training camp. Now, I’m not so sure.
At just 26 years old, it was surprising to see Rice's production fall off the way it did, but he was dealing with hip and quad injuries throughout the season. He was also coming off of a Super Bowl run the previous year, which likely wore him down. GM Ozzie Newsome said he expects Rice to return to Pro Bowl form, but HC John Harbaugh said after the season that the team could take more of a committee approach at running back, which would limit Rice's upside. Still, assuming his offseason legal issues don't impact his availability (too much), he is a bounceback candidate in Gary Kubiak's offense.
Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich... I’m picking Brian Hoyer to win job, even though 11-of-16 quarterbacks taken in the first round since 2008 have started right away. How long he’d keep it would depend on wins and losses, but I don’t think the leash would be long. For example, if the Browns start the season 0-3 after visiting the Steelers and hosting the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens, it would be convenient for Mike Pettine to promote Johnny Manziel during the Week 4 bye and have him ready to face the Tennessee Titans on the road Oct. 5. But even if Hoyer becomes the starter and wins like he did last season, it wouldn’t necessarily preclude Manziel from playing as a rookie. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of OC Kyle Shanahan featuring Manziel in certain packages. And remember, the backup always seems to find himself in the lineup in Cleveland. No Browns quarterback has started all 16 regular-season games since Tim Couch in 2001.
If Manziel wins the starting job this summer, he'll be an intriguing QB2 who should be available in the 10th-12th rounds given all the depth at quarterback. His rushing yards will drive his fantasy value, especially since the team is likely to be without Josh Gordon for most (if not all) of the season.
The Panthers are better at receiver than they were a year ago. Nothing against Steve L Smith, but at 35 he was no better than a No. 2 receiver and at the end of his career. Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon really weren't big losses when you look at it closely. Hixon wouldn't have been a loss at all were it not for the game-winning touchdown against New Orleans. The key here will be chemistry, but first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin looks like a red zone beast at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Free agent signees Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are solid possession receivers, and more dependable than the players they replaced. Who steps up as the fourth receiver will be the biggest question, whether it's free agent Tiquan Underwood or one of the young receivers. The Panthers plan to run a lot more two tight-end sets makes that less critical.
We project Cotchery and Benjamin to start but believe that Greg Olsen will once again lead the team in catches. Benjamin has upside, but Cotchery is a dirt cheap WR5/WR6 option available in the final rounds.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:58am
There doesn’t figure to be a whole lot of drama for the Ravens running backs. Ray Rice’s expected suspension probably will lead to the Ravens keeping an extra running back early in the season. That would benefit Justin Forsett, who has looked elusive and quick in offseason practices and could have a role in the offense early. Lorenzo Taliaferro, a rookie fourth-round pick, also could work his way into the rotation. At 230 pounds, Taliaferro is a good candidate for short-yardage duties, a major issue with the Ravens last year. Kyle Juszczyk wasn’t used on offense last season, but that figures to change with new coordinator Gary Kubiak calling the plays.
It looks like Bernard Pierce should be given every chance to fill in while Rice serves his suspension, which has yet to be determined. It sounds like Taliaferro could steal some short TDs, however. Once the suspension is announced, it will give the Ravens a better plan for reps at camp, and should also give a better clue for fantasy owners.
Sunday, July 13, 2014, 12:33pm
Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels are the clear leaders of the class at tight end for the Ravens, as they are expected to be critical pieces of OC Gary Kubiak’s offense. The Ravens surrounded Flacco with more weapons this offseason, and having two pass-catching tight ends at his disposal could lead to impressive results for the offense. Kubiak has a history of using two tight end sets, and that is expected to be the case again this season. Crockett Gillmore is also a virtual lock to make the team, likely as the No. 3 tight end. The third tight end has traditionally played more of a blocking role for the Ravens, which fits Gillmore’s style. He’s the biggest tight end on the roster, giving him the size to go up against defensive ends and outside linebackers that he would have to block to clear holes in the running game.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta was in constant motion throughout the Ravens' offseason practices, making it difficult to get an accurate read on where he would line up from play to play. With Pitta healthy again after missing the first dozen games of last season after having his dislocated, fractured right hip surgically repaired, he figures to have a featured role in the Ravens' offense this fall working in tandem with former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels.
Pitta missed most of 2013 due to a hip injury and he was sorely missed in the Ravens’ passing game. Upon his return, he saw 33 targets in four games, putting him on pace to finish with the 3rd-most targets in the league. It’s not a solid sample size, but it’s still an indicator of what may come. (He finished with the 12th-most targets in 2012.) The big plus for Pitta heading into 2014 is the arrival of new OC Gary Kubiak who has been very TE-friendly throughout his career, specifically with the development of both Shannon Sharpe in Denver and Owen Daniels in Houston.
Monday, July 7, 2014, 4:09pm
The Baltimore Ravens are about two weeks from starting training camp, and they have no idea on how long running back Ray Rice will be unavailable to begin the season. The NFL needs to make a decision soon because the league shouldn't punish the Ravens along with Rice, who is expected to receive a multi-game suspension for allegedly striking his fiancée unconscious in February. The Ravens' workload at running back will be based on the length of Rice's absence. Why is the NFL taking so long to announce its decision? Rice's legal situation was wrapped up on May 20, when he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program to avoid trial on aggravated assault charges. That was 48 days ago. Rice met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on June 16. That was three weeks ago.
If Rice is going to miss a major chunk of the season, the Ravens would give Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro more snaps this summer, especially later in the preseason. If Rice is only going to be suspended for a couple of games, the Ravens' rotation at running back may not change significantly.
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 12:32pm
Torrey Smith, a second-round pick in 2011, enters the final year of his rookie contract with no current indication that the Ravens are prepared to extend his deal. In his third season, Smith cracked the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time, generating 1,128 yards on a career-high 65 catches. That puts Smith at No. 17 among all pass-catchers, and it creates a potential conundrum regarding his worth. On one hand, Smith had a great year given the lack of complementary weapons. On the other hand, a high-end wideout should have had even better numbers, especially without players like Anquan Boldin (who was traded in the 2013 offseason) and tight end Dennis Pitta (who missed most of the year with a dislocated hip) not siphoning off throws.
This year Smith will battle with Pitta, newly signed WR Steve Smith, newly signed TE Owen Daniels and even WR Jacoby Jones for catches. We rank Torrey Smith 26th among WRs with an ADP of the 7th round. We think he'll break the 1,100-yard receiving mark, however, his projected 4.4 TDs is second lowest to only Kendall Wright among our top-30 WRs.
When Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco handed the football off and threw swing passes to Ray Rice this spring, he had a close-up view of the three-time Pro Bowl running back's physical transformation. Rice had regained much of his old quickness, displaying an ability to run away from defenders that all but disappeared during the worst season of his NFL career last year. Rice has lost roughly 20 pounds since last season, when he weighed as much as 225 pounds while struggling with hip and quadriceps injuries that robbed him of his ability to elude pursuit or break tackles. "I think we’ve looked really good, and [Rice] has done a great job of pressing, cutting, getting in there and having the explosion afterward," said Flacco. "He’s shown a lot."
At just 26 years old, it was surprising to see Rice's production fall off the way it did, but he was dealing with hip and quad injuries throughout the season. He was also coming off of a Super Bowl run the previous year, which likely wore him down. GM Ozzie Newsome said he expects Rice to return to Pro Bowl form, but HC John Harbaugh said after the season that the team could take more of a committee approach at running back, which would limit Rice's upside. Still, assuming his offseason legal issues don't impact his availability, he is a bounceback candidate in Gary Kubiak's offense.
Are the Ravens ready to regularly use formations that will get Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels on the field at the same time? According to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report, Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has pondered the prospect of “relying heavily” on formations using two tight ends because of Daniels’ encouraging offseason after missing most of 2013 with a broken fibula.
Pitta missed most of 2013 due to a hip injury and he was sorely missed in the Ravens’ passing game. Upon his return, he saw 33 targets in four games, putting him on pace to finish with the 3rd-most targets in the league. It’s not a solid sample size, but it’s still an indicator of what may come. (He finished with the 12th-most targets in 2012.) The big plus for Pitta heading into 2014 is the arrival of new OC Gary Kubiak who has been very TE-friendly throughout his career, specifically with the development of both Shannon Sharpe in Denver and Owen Daniels in Houston. There are those that are worried about Daniels' arrival stunting Pitta's upside, but if Baltimore plays a lot of 12 (two-TE) formation, it shouldn't impact Pitta negatively. If there are two tight ends on the field, there won't be a lot of snaps for a third WR, so Marlon Brown stock continues to sink. He'll fight with Jacoby Jones for limited snaps as the Ravens' WR3.
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