Baltimore Ravens team preview

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The Ravens have long been known for their tenacious defense, which means one thing: they don't have a lot of valuable fantasy players. Running back Willis McGahee, a second round pick in most leagues, is the Ravens' most desirable player, but the pickings are slim after that. The Baltimore team defense, however, will again be one of the first defensive crews selected.

The offense could take a jump in coming years now that John Harbaugh has replaced Brian Billick as head coach. Much will depend on the development of Joe Flacco, the rookie signal caller that could be thrown into the fire right away.


Quarterback
Joe Flacco
Notable backup: Kyle Boller

No need to waste too much time here: with the Ravens quarterback situation unresolved, it won't be necessary to continue to monitor it. While rookie Joe Flacco may be the leader in the clubhouse, don't be surprised if Kyle Boller or Troy Smith still beat him out. Regardless, the Ravens quarterback in 2008 won't be one owned in many fantasy leagues.

Running back
Willis McGahee
2007 stats: 1,207 rush yards, 231 rec yards, 8 total TD
Notable backup: Ray Rice

Since returning from a devastating injury that ended his college career, McGahee has proved to be a fairly durable runner in the NFL. Durability is key in fantasy, a player doesn't do you much good if he's hurt, and McGahee should parlay that into being selected in the first two rounds of most fantasy leagues. He's not a great receiving threat out of the backfield, but with only a rookie behind him and an inexperienced quarterback in front of him, expect McGahee to a large number of carries this season.

Wide receivers
Derrick Mason
2007 stats: 103 recs, 1087 yards, 5 TD

The only problem with drafting Mason is the Ravens' quarterback debacle. It's true that he's always been one of the NFL's best productive receivers- going over 1,000 yards in six of his last seven seasons- but he's never been paired with a QB as inexperienced as the one he'll be with this season. Still, Mason is worth a mid to late round pick.

Mark Clayton
2007 stats: 48 recs, 531 yards, 0 TD

After a stellar sophomore campaign in Baltimore, Clayton regressed some last year. He caught 19 less passes, gained nearly 400 less yards, and didn't score the entire season. Expect Clayton to find the end zone a few times this year, but he still probably won't be taken on draft day.

Tight end
Todd Heap
2007 stats: 23 recs, 239 yards, 1 TD

If Heap is healthy, few tight ends are better. He wasn't last season though, disappointing fantasy owners everywhere by playing only six games. We have the same concerns for Heap as we do for Mason, and though he should be drafted, it probably won't be very high.

Defense
2007 stats: 32 sacks, 17 INT, 24.0 points per game allowed

It was surprising that a once proud Baltimore defense allowed as many points as they did last year. Always one of the NFL's best, maybe age is starting to take a toll on star players like Chris McAllister and Ray Lewis. Still, with Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed in the fold, the Ravens are valuable in fantasy terms. Expect Suggs to tally more than five sacks, and for the D to try to score more with an unproven offense.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

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This page contains a single entry by Ricky O'Donnell published on July 29, 2008 12:00 AM.

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