"Really, ever since we lost Ray Rice, we haven't had a type of back that’s quite like how Ray was and quite like how (Danny Woodhead) is in the passing game," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "They just have a very good feel for when they're open and how to get open, how to sit in holes, how to find my eyes, and you can already see that. You can see he has a really good feel for those kinds of things. If you remember back, obviously, Ray was really good at doing that, and that gives a lot to your offense for sure."
From 2009-13, no running back caught more passes than Rice, who averaged 67 receptions a season during that span. Over the past three campaigns, no Baltimore running back has totaled more than 45 catches.
Woodhead is expected to play a big role in the Ravens' passing game because two of Flacco's top underneath targets are gone. Tight end Dennis Pitta was released after re-injuring his right hip, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency.
We can file this one under "Duh." Woodhead should catch a ton of passes for the Ravens, though we are a bit concerned about his playing time when Kenneth Dixon returns from suspension. Woodhead's third-down/hurry-up role should be safe with Dixon pushing Terrance West for carries on early downs.
“Ever since we lost Ray, we haven’t had the type of back quite like Ray was and quite like (Danny Woodhead) is in the passing game,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “They just have a very good feel for when they’re open, how to get open, how to sit in holes, how to find my eyes.”
“He was somebody that we targeted early in free agency and signed him right out of the gate,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a very versatile running back for us. He can carry the ball, but he’s a big part of the passing game.”
Woodhead is an elite pass-catcher and an underrated runner. With Kenneth Dixon suspended for the first four games, Woodhead will form a committee with Terrance West. He should continue to be a good value in PPR formats. Keep in mind that Ray Rice averaged 4.25 receptions per game in his final five seasons in Baltimore, so if Woodhead's role is similar, he has 60- to 70-catch upside.
Monday, August 10, 2015, 5:36pm
Ellington missed time with a hamstring injury, which is the same reason that rookie David Johnson has been out since early in training camp and also why Marion Grice has been on the sideline. Stepfan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams have been active, but Arians said, via the team’s website, that he was “not fired up about the running backs’ performance on Saturday.”
While talking to the media, Arians said he and General Manager Steve Keim would discuss other possibilities. Arians was asked if former Ravens running back Ray Rice would be one of the players up for discussion, but the Cardinals coach said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, that the team isn’t considering him.
A year ago, Justin Forsett was a journeyman looking for a job at the Baltimore Ravens training camp. Now, one Pro Bowl appearance and a 1,529 yards later, Forsett is seeking an encore to the finest of his seven NFL seasons. "I'm still hungry, still ready to go out and fight," the 29-year-old running back said. "Nothing is given to me."
Forsett was third on the depth chart last summer behind Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro. All three running backs were prepared to take one step back after incumbent Ray Rice returned from a two-game suspension for domestic violence. All that changed when a video surfaced in September showing Rice striking his then-fiancee in an elevator. The Ravens immediately released him, and Forsett ultimately proved to be far more adept at running the ball than anyone on the Baltimore roster.
He rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards — more than his previous five seasons combined. Forsett also caught 44 passes for 263 yards and provided solid protection in the pocket for quarterback Joe Flacco. That earned the 5-foot-8, 195-pound Forsett a three-year, $9 million contract with $3 million guaranteed. He intends to earn every penny of it.
Forsett is a potential fantasy stud RB who can possibly be had later in the second round of 12-team leagues or even the early third round in 10-team leagues. With Marc Trestman as the OC, Forsett has a chance to increase his receptions and be a valuable PPR back. Trestman has already said the Ravens will continue to commit to the run making Forsett's potential even higher.
Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown broke down the team's backfield:
“I just admired him from afar, watching him on tape. I think he’s big, strong, incredibly fast, tough guy. He’s buying into our system. He wants to be here. He’s doing everything I ask him to do. I’m looking forward to seeing him in pads. … I’ve been out here watching him run. He looks very fast. We’re just looking forward to seeing him in pads in our system.”
“I think Joe really has to make sure he takes care of everything on and off the field. We want to trust Joe, we like Joe, but we want to make sure he’s going to be with us at all times. I think he’s maturing up and he’s getting better and he understands the opportunity he has in front of him and I think he’ll take full advantage. I think those days are behind him and we’re looking forward to working with Joe. … Just being around him these last few weeks, he seems to be more mature to me. He and I have sat down and had one-on-one conversations about his future and I think he wants to go in the right direction.”
“I envision [him getting more opportunities]. I think he’s a hell of a football player, we’ve got to try and get him more involved and I think coach Linehan is going to do a great job doing that. … [He didn’t get more carries last season] because I think the run game was so explosive and DeMarco was running so well. It’s just like anything in life, you’ve got a guy who is hot, you want to ride that guy and make sure he gets his touches and I think we did the right thing by getting him his touches. Obviously with, what was it, 1,800 yards and 13, 14 touchdowns, whatever it was, I think we made the right decision.”
Brown later said he might have been premature not also mentioning Ryan Williams with that group.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. Randle averaged 6.7 YPC behind the Dallas offensive line last season, but has had a host of off-the-field issues. Dunbar is more of a third down back, while Williams is a former second round pick who has been unable to stay healthy. The team has insinuated that it still may trade for a running back or sign a free agent (like Chris Johnson or perhaps Ray Rice), so the backfield is far from settled. McFadden is currently the first Dallas running back off the board in the 7th round.
Dallas Cowboys site writer David Helman on how the team will use OTAs to evaluate the RB corps:
"Ever since the draft ended, we’ve heard the Cowboys say that they aren’t ruling out the possibility of adding another running back before the season. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say they’re going to use OTAs and minicamp to take a hard look at the guys on the roster. Those practices should give them a better idea of how well they can handle it. If they aren’t confident in those four by the end of OTAs, I bet they’ll go add another guy this summer."
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 10:29am
Only one of the Ravens' top three running backs from last year is guaranteed to return, and that's rookie fourth-round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro. The Ravens would like to re-sign leading rusher Justin Forsett, but he could receive a better offer elsewhere after becoming the NFL's fifth-leading rusher in 2014. The status for Bernard Pierce is just as uncertain after he recorded his second straight disappointing season. The Ravens will want to upgrade their depth if they're able to do so, and Pierce may not make the regular-season roster. This is a situation where the Ravens are going to be careful with how much they invest in this position because they're carrying $9.5 million in dead cap space after releasing Ray Rice last year. Their game plan could be to sign a moderately priced veteran in free agency and add another runner in the draft.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 12:55pm
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.”
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.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton revealed that running back Khiry Robinson is expected to return from an arm injury next week against the Carolina Panthers while denouncing a report that the Saints had shown any interest in reinstated running back Ray Rice.
“We like our running back depth,” Payton said. “And if you do a little research, Khiry’s coming back next week.”
Robinson has missed the past six games with an unspecified arm injury. He hasn’t returned to the practice field yet but hinted on Twitter that he was close to a return. And he was seen in the locker room without a brace on the arm.
Things will again get interesting in the Saints backfield. Mark Ingram has been playing very well since moving into the lead back role. Chances are the Saints will ease Robinson back into the mix, but it's very possible he steals some carries from Ingram. Ingram ran the ball 23 times for 122 yards in Sunday’s 35-32 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers -- his fourth 100-yard game during Robinson’s absence.
Ray Rice has won his appeal, per sources.
So Rice is now immediately reinstated and can sign with any team any time.
Owners in dire need of RB help could pick up Rice as a prospect, but he didn't look very good last season and has been away from football for several months. It's doubtful that he makes much of a fantasy impact even if he's signed by another team.
Monday, November 10, 2014, 7:52pm
The breakthrough season that Ravens running back Bernard Pierce was hoping for hasn't materialized. Pierce was initially projected as the starter once Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended and his $35 million contract was terminated.
However, a lost fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener, a subsequent quadriceps injury and the emergence of Justin Forsett as the Ravens' featured running back has affected Pierce's status.
During a 21-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Pierce was more involved in the offense than usual when he rushed for 31 yards on eight carries. Pierce had just one carry for 2 yards in a 43-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers the previous week and was a healthy scratch against the Bengals the week before that.
Pierce hasn't complained about his status and said he's just trying to make the most out of his opportunities.
"It's definitely a confidence-booster," Pierce said after the win over the Titans. "I knew I still had it. Contributing to a win is definitely a good feeling."
Against Tennessee, Pierce had a long run of 10 yards. The Ravens wore down the Titans, rushing for 151 yards on 34 carries, but it was Forsett who led the way with 112 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Pierce had more of a role Sunday than rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who had three carries for 10 yards one week after he lost a fumble against the Steelers. Forsett is the team's lead back and the RB2 spot is going to the guy who hasn't fumbled most recently.
Vikings beat writer Chip Scoggins: "If (Adrian Peterson) is truly sorry about what he did, I think you're going to see him on the field probably sooner than later."
Scoggins went on to predict that we'd have an answer by Friday and said that he "absolutely" believes that Peterson will return to play for the Vikings this season.
Peterson could still face further punishment from the league, but given the odds that Roger Goodell deems an eight-game suspension as time served, Peterson should be reinstated. Then it's a matter of the Vikings making the decision to welcome him back, which could potentially create another public relations nightmare. The decision from the league could be delayed since Goodell was busy testifying Wednesday at Ray Rice's appeal.
"When you first saw him come out here, it’s like, 'Whoa, he’s good.' He’s better than his reputation," Harbaugh said. "He’s underrated. You could see that right away. [He] had such a great feel for the offense. But I don’t know if I really could have guessed that he’d break tackles like he does. He’s really doing a great job in yards after the hit. That has been a strength, and you wouldn’t assume that just looking at him."
Forsett not only is an unexpected starter for the 3-1 Ravens but also is leading all qualified NFL running backs in yards per carry (5.8). Last season, the Ravens' top two running backs, Ray Rice (3.1) and Bernard Pierce (2.9), ranked in the bottom four in the league in rushing average.
According to multiple league sources, Rice will appeal the indefinite suspension on Monday. The appeal will be handled by the NFLPA and by an outside lawyer retained by Rice.
Because the indefinite suspension was imposed under the personal-conduct policy, Commissioner Roger Goodell will have the ultimate authority over the appeal. Don’t be surprised if Rice and the union ask that Goodell designate a hearing officer who has no current connection to the league office, which Goodell ultimately did in the appeal of the players suspended in connection with the Saints bounty case.
Goodell also will be a witness in the appeal process, since one of the key questions is whether Rice lied to the team or the league about what happened in the elevator, the story added. Rice is expected to contend that he told the team and the league the truth. Ultimately, the person who resolves the appeal will have to hear testimony from Rice, Goodell, and other witnesses before deciding whether Rice lied — especially since Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome has said that Rice didn’t lie. In terms of fantasy football, it's hard to believe any team would give Rice a look, at least this season. Many feel he will never play in the league again.
Montgomery County prosecutor Phil Grant said Saturday that parents are entitled to discipline their children, but that grand jury members felt Peterson went too far after they looked at the child's injuries.
Peterson is charged with causing injury to a child for allegedly spanking one of his sons with a wooden switch on or around May 18. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined up to $10,000.
Peterson is out for Week 2 and probably longer as the Star-Tribune says that it’s likely that the league takes further discipline on Monday. The NFL was criticized heavily for the two-game suspension that Ray Rice received for knocking out his fiancé in Atlantic City, so our guess is that Peterson will be hit with a tougher suspension. It’s not clear whether the NFL will wait for the case to run its course, but it doesn’t sound like it will. The Vikings could also suspend him as well. The bottom line is that there is no concrete timetable for Peterson’s return. He could miss four games or even the entire season. His owners can choose to get what they can for him via trade, or cut him to the waiver wire on moral grounds. Just know that it’s possible that he returns to the team if he admits fault, apologizes, seeks therapy and works out a deal to continue playing while his case makes its way through the legal system. Owners who are seeking a trade may have to take what they can get for him, but our reluctant guess is a RB2/WR2 type.
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