Aside from Ray Rice’s emergence as a top tier running back,, the Ravens offense continues to get no respect when it comes to fantasy football drafts.
For some reason, Baltimore gets no love when it comes to rankings of their offense, even though this team has shown it can hold its own as the franchise becomes more balanced and younger offensive players shine.
Yahoo! recently named Baltimore their top professional football city for fantasy football based off an estimated per capita participation – Yahoo! concluded that one of every 31 people in the city play fantasy football. If it weren’t for a high amount of residents – presumably Ravens fans – playing fantasy football and picking their favorite hometown players earlier than they probably should be, the numbers may be even worse for the Ravens.
According to ESPN’s draft rankings compiled from all of the data from each fantasy draft hosted on their network’s page, this is how the Ravens faired: (ADP = Average Draft Position)
Joe Flacco, 16th overall quarterback (ADP – 115.7)
Flacco has led the Ravens to the playoffs each year he’s been in the NFL and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Surprisingly, Matt Ryan (10th) and Robert Griffin III (13th) are being drafted ahead of Flacco even though Griffin III is a rookie and hasn’t ever stepped foot on an NFL field in regular season game and Ryan hasn’t won a playoff game despite being picked 3rd in 2008. Playing in a dome with those stud wideouts gives Ryan the fantasy advantage – but Griffin? Come on.
Torrey Smith, 28th overall wide receiver (ADP – 83.2)
Smith is poised for a breakout 2012 campaign and seems to have benefitted from a having a full offseason. Last year, the lockout shortened the preseason for rookies, and Smith took until week three to catch on. Smith will be the Ravens’ #1 and push Anquan Boldin into the slot for many plays.
It’s hard to argue Smith at 28th, as he is still largely unproven compared to the talent listed ahead of him, but at the end of the season, he should move up to at least the top 15 wideouts in the NFL.
Anquan Boldin, 34th overall wide receiver (ADP – 101)
Boldin still has a big name amongst the NFL fan base from his time with the Arizona Cardinals, and he has become a quiet but reliable target for Flacco during his tenure in Baltimore. Though not a true #1, Boldin will benefit from being in the slot for a decent amount of time in Cam Cameron’s offense. He should improve on his 57 rec, 887 yard, 3 TD performance from 2011.
Jacoby Jones, 95th overall wide receiver (ADP – undrafted)
Jones has been plagued with issues catching the ball and until he can prove he’s changed that fundamental piece of his game, he’ll continue to stay undrafted and off the radar of fantasy players. Moving into the #2 spot while Boldin is in the slot should result in plenty of targets for the former Texan, but only time will tell if Jones can shake the label he’s been given of having bad hands.
Ray Rice, 2nd overall running back, (ADP – 3.5)
There really isn’t any need to elaborate on this. Rice is the focal point of the Ravens’ offense and will see plenty of touches and touchdowns this season.
Bernard Pierce, 72nd overall running back (ADP – undrafted)
Pierce had the potential to be a first-round pick had he stayed in school at Temple for another season. Pierce will be the Ravens’ #2 back and may steal a few touchdowns from Rice this season on the goal line. He’ll be known more – and cursed – for hurting Rice’s owners than helping anyone else unless Rice suffers an unfortunate injury.
Bobby Rainey, 144th overall running back, (ADP – undrafted)
Rainey is a non-factor in fantasy. If he’s active, he’ll see time on special teams and may return a few kicks but won’t touch the ball many times the season.
Vonta Leach, 127th overall running back, (ADP – undrafted)
If points were awarded for bulldozing linebackers, Leach would be a first round pick; however, that’s not a tracked statistic for fantasy (at least that I’m aware of). Leach has been lined up as a wide receiver, and even caught a touchdown pass this preseason but will probably not be stealing too many touchdowns from Rice this season.
Ed Dickson, 23rd overall tight end, (ADP – undrafted)
Dennis Pitta, 33rd overall tight end, (ADP – undrafted)
For the first half of the season, Dickson was the primary tight end in the Ravens’ two tight end offense; however, that shifted towards the end of the season as Dennis Pitta emerged as Flacco’s favorite target and finished the season strong. Regardless, Pitta and Dickson are way too good to be undrafted.
Justin Tucker, 16th overall kicker, (ADP – undrafted)
The uncertainty of the kicking situation during camp hurt Tuckers’ stock, as many leagues have already picked by the time it was announced he had beat out Billy Cundiff for the job. Kickers aren’t also commonly drafted high unless you’re playing fantasy with someone who doesn’t understand the point separation between top and middle-tier kickers.
Ravens, 2nd overall, (ADP – 87.1)
Even though many believe the Ravens defense will take a step back, they still have enough of a name around the league for many to draft them early.
Surprisingly enough, the other Harbaugh coached team (49ers) has the top defense with an ADP of 71.6. For anyone to even take a defense on the average of the late 5th/early 6th round is a reach but even the Ravens at an average of 16 picks later is probably too high.
At least Ray Lewis and Co. still get a little national respect.
Regardless of their contributions in fantasy football, all fans really care about is winning and that’s what the Ravens have done even
with a subpar fantasy showing. If the offense takes a step forward as expected, there is a good chance that fantasy drafts next year will have a whole different feel to them when it comes to Ravens.
Most fans would probably prefer a win in “real” football as opposed to “fantasy” anyway.