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For the past month we have begun to preview this year’s fantasy season. We have taken a look at the rookie quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and TE’s. Also, we have looked at some of the less popular fantasy teams, the Cardinals, Texans, Browns, and 49ers, all in an effort to help you identify value from lesser known players.
This week we take a break from 2006 and look back at the best individual fantasy seasons of our Ravens. We looked at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, TE, and kicker.  To no one’s surprise, Matt Stover was the top kicker ;-).  For reference we will compare our top all time single season Raven fantasy performers to the top fantasy performers of 2005.
We used the basic scoring method for tabulating success. Quarterbacks, 4 points for a touchdown pass, 1 point for every 75 yards passing, six points for a rushing or receiving touchdown, 1 point for every 25 yards rushed or received and a one point deduction for every interception. Running backs, six points for every touchdown scored, 4 points for a thrown touchdown, 1 point for every 25 yards rushed and 1 point for every 25 yards receiving. We used this same scoring for wide receivers and TE’s.  Kickers get 1 point for an extra point, three for a field goal.
Let’s get to it. First on our list is passing, and as we all know the Ravens have never bed a hot bed for elite quarterbacks.
Quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, 1996.
Testaverde threw for thirty three touchdowns, 4,177 yards passing, 19 interceptions, scored 2 rushing touchdowns, and had 188 yards rushing. This all added up to 188 fantasy points
Testaverde was our first star player. He teamed with then new head coach Ted Marchibroda and former Dolphins’ quarterback Don Strock as offensive coordinator and had a career year. He had a solid offensive line with Steve Everitt, Wally Williams, Jeff Blackshear, Orlando Brown, and rookie Jonathan Ogden.  The line with the exception of Ogden was inherited from Cleveland. Testaverde had two outstanding receivers in Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander who combined for 138 catches, 2,300 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns. The Ravens running game was not anything special with Bam Morris leading the team with 737 yards.  The Ravens scored 371 points.  Of course they had to – they gave up 441.
Testaverde was forced to throw the ball, he had two games where he attempted over 50 passes.  The most impressive aspect of this was that defenses knew he had to throw, yet he completed 59% of his passes. He set franchise records for most attempts, completions, and touchdowns that year. Statistically speaking his highlight was in a 45-34 loss to the Broncos in Denver where he threw four touchdown passes. The team finished a disappointing 4-12. Vinny played in the Pro Bowl after the 1996 season where he was listed as the third quarterback that game.   
Vinny also had the second best fantasy year of all Ravens quarterbacks in 1997 when he threw for eighteen touchdowns with fifteen interceptions.  You may recall that those fifteen interceptions helped him get run out of town by fans and the media. One has to wonder though, had the Ravens continued with Vinny and developed the defense as they eventually did, could there have been a dynasty at hand?  Ah, let’s leave that to the Monday Morning quarterback.
Comparison to 2005 leading fantasy quarterbacks.
Based on our scoring method, Carson Palmer was 2005’s fantasy scoring leader at quarterback with 32 touchdown passes and 174 points. That’s right folks, Vinny’s 1996 year was a better fantasy year than the best in the NFL from last season by 14 points. Better than Palmer, better than Peyton Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, and Tom Brady. Thanks for the shoot outs Vinny!  It kept the early Ravens’ fans entertained.
Running back, Jamal Lewis, 2003.
Lewis ran for 2,066 yards, nearly breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season record. He score 14 rushing touchdowns, and had 205 yards receiving. This added up to 175 fantasy points.
The 2003 Ravens won the AFC North but lost in the playoffs to the Titans, but this was Jamal’s year. In week two he ran for single game rushing record of 295 yards against the Browns along with 2 touchdowns and an incredible 9.83 average that day. He scored in the first four games of the year and scored in ten of the 16 regular season games. He averaged a Jim Brown like 5.34 yards a carry. Defenses knew he was coming due to the Ravens lack of a solid passing game and he still could not be stopped. His 2003 year will go down in the history books as one of the finest single season rushing performances of all time.
Comparison to 2005 leading fantasy running backs.
Lewis tallied 175 points good enough to win the fantasy rushing title most years, but not 2005. Lewis’ fantasy total from 2003 would have ranked him 4th last year. He would have trailed Shaun Alexander who had 244 points, Larry Johnson with 209 points, and LaDainian Tomlinson who came in at 205 points.
Wide Receiver, Michael Jackson, 1996.
Jackson had 76 receptions for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns. He totaled 132 fantasy points. Led by Vinny Testaverde at quarterback and having a viable threat Derrick Alexander on the other side, Jackson along with Testaverde had a career year. He immediately became a fan favorite while always giving the Ravens offense the ability to score from any where on the field. His most memorable catch of that year had to be the game winning touchdown he caught in overtime against the Rams in the left corner of the end zone in the open end of Memorial Stadium in a 37-31 win. Jerry Rice and Carl Pickens had more receptions and Jimmy Smith had more yards that year than Jackson but none of them had more than Jackson’s 14 touchdowns. Jackson did not make the Pro Bowl but he and Alexander for 1996 and 1997 were considered one of best wide receiver tandems in football. Jackson finished his career with Ravens after 1998, he totaled 183 receptions, for 2,596 yards and 18 career Ravens touchdowns.
Comparison to 2005’s leading fantasy wide receivers.
Jackson’s 132 points in 1996 would have put him in second place in 2005. The Panther’s Steve Smith totaled 142 fantasy points last season. The next closest to Jackson’s 132 points was Marvin Harrison at 117 points and Larry Fitzgerald at 116.
TE, Todd Heap, 2005.
Heap had 75 receptions for 855 yards and 7 touchdowns. He scored 76 fantasy points while having his best year in pro football. His touchdowns represented 30% of the Ravens total touchdowns last year, and 41% of the touchdown passes. Derrick Mason had more catches and yards but Heap was the lone Raven scoring threat in 2005. He now has 243 receptions in his Ravens career with 20 touchdowns. As a fantasy TE , he was already in the top five but with Steve McNair at the controls he most likely becomes the second TE on the fantasy board behind Antonio Gates.
Comparison to 2005’s leading TE’s
Heap’s 76 points ranked him third in 2005 for fantasy TE’s.  Antonio Gates scored ten touchdowns and had 104 fantasy points. Jeremy Shockey edged Heap by one point with 77 fantasy points scored.
Place kicker, Matt Stover, 2000
The only full time place kicker in Ravens history, Matt Stover made 35 of 39 field goal attempts, while also kicking 30 extra points for the world champion Ravens in 2000. He scored 135 points, the best in his career, and he landed in the Pro Bowl. Stover has been a model of consistency since he moved with the Browns to Baltimore. During 2000, Stover accounted for all of the Ravens points during a five game stretch when the Ravens failed to score a touchdown. His accurate leg along with the defense kept the Ravens in the playoff picture in 2000 while the offense sputtered often.
Comparison to 2005’s leading place kickers
Stover’s 135 points in 2000 would have ranked him third in 2005. Jay Feely connected for 148 fantasy points and Neil Rackers who led the NFL with 40 field goals had 140 fantasy points.    
Next week, we’ll take a look at how the Baltimore Colts best offensive seasonal performances might stack up against the 2005 top fantasy scorers.

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Kurt Backert

About Kurt Backert

Kurt's passion for the game began in the 60's watching the Colts on TV and at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. He began following the statistics of not only his beloved Colts but also those of the Colts opponents, with a keen eye on Vince Lombardi's Packers. His thirst for and attention to statistical detail would eventually lead Kurt on a journey to the world of fantasy football in the late 1980's where he's captured more titles than John Wooden's UCLA Bruins   Kurt carries a distinction that no other fan of the NFL can boast about.  He is the reigning NFL National Trivia Champion and he credits his Dad for passing on such passion for the game, something Kurt also hopes to pass along to his 9-year-old son. More from Kurt Backert


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