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Ray Rice is a Top-Five Pick in 2010

You watched the
diminutive Ray Rice fearlessly pacing the mighty Baltimore Ravens rushing
attack during the preseason, running sweeps, pounding it between the tackles
and catching a ton of passes out of the backfield. Since Willis McGahee had
fallen out of favor with the Baltimore coaching staff and Le’Ron McClain had
been moved to fullback, Rice had upside written all over him as the Ravens’ new
starting runner. That is why you probably drafted the second-year pro somewhere
between the third and fifth rounds after securing some stud wide receivers and
an elite quarterback. I suspect your gamble on Rice has paid off handsomely.
Through Week 14, Rice was the No. 2 fantasy back in points-per-reception
formats and the No. 4 ranked runner in standard scoring leagues. Rice ranks No.
9 in rushing yards (1,041), No. 1 in receiving yards (652) among running backs,
No. 2 in total yards (1,693), No. 1 in receptions (68) among all runners and
No. 7 (tie) among all backs in touchdowns (eight). Rice is small (5-foot-8, 205
pounds) by NFL standards, but he has become one of the biggest playmakers in
the league.

THE RICE BIO

Raymell “Ray” Maurice
Rice was born December 22, 1987, in

New Rochelle,

N.Y., which is located 15 miles northeast of

New York City. Sadly,
tragedy and hardship were constant companions to Rice when he was growing up.
When Rice was just a 1-year-old, his father, Calvin Reed, was killed in a
drive-by shooting. Rice’s mother, Janet, raised him and his three siblings,
relying solely on her limited income as a special education teacher. Rice’s
uncle and surrogate father, Myshawn Rice-Nichols, also died in a 1998 car
crash.

Rice played prep football
at

New Rochelle

High School (2000-2004). Following a
quiet freshman season, Rice became

New
Rochelle
’s lead runner in a timeshare during his
sophomore year. As a junior, Rice amassed 1,332 rushing yards and 21
touchdowns, leading his team to a state championship. Used exclusively as a
featured back during his senior season, Rice carried 112 times for 1,192 yards
and scored 31 touchdowns, and he led the team on a return trip to the state
finals. Rice was named team offensive Most Valuable Player and earned an
All-State First-Team selection. He also was named to

Madison

Square

Garden’s All-Heisman
Team. Before choosing to play college ball for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights,
Rice had initially committed to

Syracuse

University, but he backed
out after the school fired then-head football coach Paul Pasqualoni.

RAY RICE – RUTGERS CAREER STATS

 

RUSHING

RECEIVING

YR/STATS

ATT

YDS

AVG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

TD

2005

195

1,120

5.7

5

8

65

8.1

0

2006

335

1,794

5.4

20

4

30

7.5

0

2007

380

2,012

5.3

24

25

239

9.6

1

CAREER

910

4,926

5.4

49

37

334

9.0

1

Rice had an immediate
impact on what had been an unremarkable football program. As a true freshman
(2005), Rice eventually took over as Rutgers’ starting runner, leading the
Scarlet Knights to their first winning season in 14 years and just their second
bowl appearance in the then 136-year history of the program.

During his sophomore
season, Rice set a new Rutgers single-season rushing record. He also topped the
200-yard rushing mark in three contests, including a 225-yard effort against
the Pittsburgh Panthers. The New York native rushed for 170 yards and one
touchdown on 24 carries to lead Rutgers to a 37-10 victory over Kansas State in
the inaugural Texas Bowl (Rice was named game MVP), which was the Scarlet
Knights’ first bowl win in school history. Thanks to Rice’s prolific
production, Rutgers won a record-tying 11 games and finished a program-best No.
12 in both the Associated Press and coach’s polls. On the season, Rice was named
Big East Offensive Player of the Week a school record three times. He also was
a First-Team Big East selection, a finalist for the Maxwell Award and a
finalist in the Heisman Trophy voting (finished seventh).

As you probably
suspected, his junior year (2007) – the last season that Rice would wear a
Scarlet Knights uniform – was his best:

  • Set a Rutgers record
    with eight straight 100-yard rushing games to end the season.

  • Set school records with
    25 100-yard rushing games and six 200-yard rushing games.

  • His 154.8 rushing yards
    per game ranked No. 3 nationally.

  • Set a new single-season
    school and Big East rushing record (2,012 yards on 380 carries).

  • Set a new school record
    for rushing touchdowns scored in one season (24).

  • Set a new Rutgers
    record with 1,000+ rushing yards in three straight seasons.

  • Set school all-time
    rushing records with 910 carries for 4,926 yards and 49 touchdowns.

  • His 49 rushing
    touchdowns ranked No. 2 in Big East history.

  • Earned a First-Team All
    Big East.

  • A finalist for the
    Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award.

Rice’s
last college game was the International Bowl in Toronto (January 5, 2008). He
rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns to help Rutgers defeat Army 41-6 and
was named game MVP. Just a few days later, Rice decided to forego his senior
season and declare for the 2008 NFL Draft.

The Rice Pre-Draft
Profile

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 205
pounds

40-Yard Dash:
4.40 (Combine time)

Positives: A
productive back with good strength, power and surge for his size. Runs low to
the ground, has a good base and excellent center of gravity. Shifty, keeps his
feet moving, can plow through tacklers without losing balance, has great vision
in the hole and can dodge second-level defenders. Alert in pass protection.
Very competitive, has great passion for the game.

Negatives: Size
and durability are a major question mark. Has quickness but lacks top-end
speed. Cannot make defenders miss consistently. Not fluid in changing
direction. Limited experience as a receiver and special teams returner.

As expected, many teams
overlooked Rice due to his size. The draft was abundant in marquee runners –
Chris Johnson (Titans), Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers), Jonathan Stewart
(Panthers), Matt Forte (Bears), Tashard Choice (Cowboys), Felix Jones (Cowboys)
– which is why Rice slipped into the second round. The Ravens selected him with
pick No. 55 overall. Rice signed a four-year deal worth $2.8 million plus a
$1.1 million signing bonus.

Rice started in Week 1 of
his 2008 rookie season, rushing 22 times for 64 yards, catching three passes
for 19 yards and losing one fumble. Although he showed some promise, Rice
started just three more games the entire season. The Ravens decided to let McGahee
and McClain shoulder the bulk of the rushing load. Rice still received some
looks as a receiver out of the backfield – he played in 13 games – but his
number of touches varied wildly during the rest of the season. His best game
was a 154-yard rushing effort against the Cleveland Browns. Rice missed the
final three games of 2008 with a leg injury.

As mentioned, the Ravens
handed the No. 1 tailback job to Rice during the 2009 preseason, and he has
exceeded expectations:

RAY RICE — 2009 NFL STATS

WK#

OPP

ATT

YDS

AVE

TD

REC

YDS

AVE

TD

FP1

FP2

1

KAN

19

108

5.7

0

2

12

6.0

0

12.0

14.0

2

SDG

08

36

4.5

0

5

46

9.2

0

8.2

13.2

3

CLE

11

48

4.4

1

4

27

6.8

0

13.5

17.5

4

NWE

11

103

9.4

0

5

49

9.8

0

15.2

20.2

5

CIN

14

69

4.9

0

7

74

10.6

1

20.3

27.3

6

MIN

10

77

7.7

2

10

117

11.7

0

31.4

41.4

BYE

8

DEN

23

84

3.7

1

5

24

4.8

0

16.8

21.8

9

CIN

12

48

4.0

1

8

87

10.9

0

19.5

27.5

10

CLE

20

89

4.5

1

3

15

5.0

0

16.4

19.4

11

IND

20

71

3.6

0

7

64

9.1

0

13.5

20.5

12

PIT

19

88

4.6

0

5

67

13.4

0

15.5

20.5

13

GB

14

54

3.9

0

3

17

5.7

0

7.1

10.1

14

DET

13

166

12.8

1

4

53

13.3

0

27.9

31.9

AVE

17

85.7

5.3

0.6

5

46.7

8.9

0.0

16.7

21.7

FP1 = Fantasy Points – standard
scoring (no PPR)

FP2 = Fantasy Points –
PPR scoring

THE RICE FANTASY
FORECAST

With three full games
left in the 2009 NFL regular season and just two contests left (Week 15 and
Week 16) in most fantasy seasons, Rice should continue to receive his 19
touches per game (he is averaging 18.7 touches per outing through Week 14).
However, he will continue to lose touches, particularly goal-line carries, to
McGahee and McClain, because the Ravens want to keep the 22-year-old Rice as
fresh as possible. He has another favorable matchup in Week 15 at home against
a sagging Chicago Bears defense and will face a skidding Pittsburgh Steelers
defense at Heinz Field in Week 16.

Why has Rice achieved
stud status? Despite losing frequent goal-line carries, he has received a
consistent number of touches each game as a dual threat (runner and receiver),
producing some tremendous numbers. In standard scoring leagues, only running
backs Chris Johnson (Titans), Adrian Peterson (Vikings) and Maurice Jones-Drew
(Jaguars) have amassed more fantasy points than he has. In PPR leagues, Rice
has rated as a must-start player most of the season, and he is second only to
Johnson in total fantasy points scored among runners. Rice should continue to
produce as long as he is the focal point of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s
run-first attack.

There is one thing to
keep in mind if you consider drafting Rice with your No. 1 pick in 2010: The
Ravens have benefited from a schedule that ranked in the bottom five in
difficulty based on opponents’ 2008 win/loss percentage. In addition, most of
Baltimore’s matchups were against the softer run defenses in the league.
Although Rice has proven to be virtually matchup proof, he and the Ravens
offense may struggle somewhat against what will likely be a tougher slate of
regular-season games next season.

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