Ray Rice, RB

2014 Game Stats
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 12:55pm

Baltimore Sun - [Full Article]

Since Ravens rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro lost a fumble during a Nov. 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the fourth-round draft pick only has three carries for 10 yards.

Taliaferro, who has been active and playing on special teams each week, has no carries in the past two games. Overall, he has rushed for 257 yards and four touchdowns this season, including 91 yards and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season.

Is Taliaferro in coach John Harbaugh's doghouse? Harbaugh insisted Monday that the reason Taliaferro is playing sparingly on offense isn't punitive measure.

Instead, Harbaugh emphasized that the emergence of running back Justin Forsett is the primary factor that's preventing Taliaferro from being more involved on the offense.

“If you look at it, no one has many carries besides Justin,” Harbaugh said. “You’ll see Lorenzo, without question. There’s no punishment going on there. I just think it’s been Justin has been playing so well, but Lorenzo has to be there for us, especially down the stretch here.”

Fantasy Impact:

Backup running back Bernard Pierce had six carries for 16 yards during a loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers. Forsett has been a nice surprise for the Ravens run game after losing Ray Rice and Pierce struggling to fill in. Forsett stepped up and hasn't looked back and is the clear fantasy option in this backfield.

Scouting Report

Ray Rice is coming off a rough year. Not only did he finish 2013 with his worst season as a pro, only 660 yards and 4 touchdowns on a paltry 3.1 yards per carry average, but he was also arrested for an assault against his then fiancée in September. We know the impact of the arrest, a 2 game suspension to start the season. What we don’t know is if that 3.1 yards per carry was an anomaly or the start of a rapid decline for one of fantasy’s most consistent producers over the previous four seasons.

Fantasy Upside
Rice has always been versatile, and even last year he wound up catching nearly 60 balls, giving him added value in PPR leagues, and helping him stay on the field during passing downs. However, Rice’s upside really lies in two things: First, the hope that last season was an anomaly and that improvements on the O-Line (most notably from newly acquired former Buccaneers Center Jeremy Zuttah) will help; and Second, the hope that new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak can breathe life into one of last season’s worst rushing attacks in the NFL. Kubiak’s Texans were a debacle last year, but they were top ten in the league in rushing from 2010 through 2012, including ranking second in the NFL in 2011. Kubiak will bring his zone-blocking scheme he learned under Mike Shanahan with him to Baltimore, a scheme notorious for being running back friendly.

Fantasy Downside
There is always the possibility that Rice is simply done. Running backs often peak and then rapidly fizzle out (i.e. Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson), so it wouldn’t be unheard of for this to simply be all Rice has in the tank. While only 27, Rice has carried the ball nearly 1,500 times in his career. That’s an awful lot of hits for one body to take. Additionally, backup Bernard Pierce is looming, a player who struggled heavily last year, but had success the previous season. Missing the first two games of the season is also an obvious downside to his fantasy value.

Bottom Line
In all likelihood, Rice will bounce back after he serves his suspension. While he may not reach 300 carries again this year, he will still carry the load on what will ultimately be an improved offense this year. Carries and opportunity often mean great things for running backs. Rice has too many red flags to be considered a high draft choice, but for the right value, he could be a sneaky good RB2 or RB3 who still has RB1 upside.

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