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Should You Draft Him?: Baltimore Ravens

For fantasy purposes, the Ravens offer an interesting mix of reliable studs and guys who make us wonder if their postseason success will translate to fantasy reliability.

(ADP = Average Draft Position)

Joe Flacco (ADP: Early Round 12):
Many people have spent much time debating whether Flacco is worthy of being the highest-paid player in the history of his sport. Even though so much time has been spent on the debate, it can be answered with two letters (Hint: one of them is N). As a fantasy quarterback, it’s easy to like Flacco’s size, durability and ridiculous arm strength. Seriously, the dude throws a football like John Elway throws a Vortex.

It’s also easy to be optimistic that he will have an Eli Manning-like statistical improvement. Manning had a career trajectory that consisted of massive potential that resulted in crappy regular season stats until a championship gave him the confidence to bust out Pro Bowl-caliber regular season stats. Maybe this could happen for Flacco, but he has zero 4,000-yard passing seasons and zero seasons of more than 25 touchdowns to his name, and the loss of Anquan Boldin has made his receiving corps even worse. Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman, Matt Schaub and Carson Palmer all have greater upside and should be available later.

Should you draft him?

Ray Rice (ADP: 8th overall):

Fears over Bernard Pierce have pushed Rice behind the likes of sexier picks such as C.J. Spiller. Yes Pierce impressed in limited action, but I’m totally sure that after a regular season where he gained more than 1,600 yards from scrimmage, scored 10 touchdowns, didn’t lose a single fumble, and had the second-most receptions among running backs, the Ravens are not ready to put him out to pasture. For goodness sake, at the ripe old age of 26, I’m amazed he can still walk.

Look, the emergence of a capable backup is good for Rice. Having a guy who can take some of the load off and help keep him healthy through the whole season will help ensure that Rice will be there for you when the fantasy playoffs roll around. Anyone who has ever seen Maurice Jones-Drew get banged up and finish the season as a shell of his former self can attest to the value of a capable backup. The bottom line is Rice is as close to a surefire elite running back as you can get in fantasy, and it’s insane that you can still get that kind of thunder at No. 8.

Should you draft him?

Bernard Pierce (ADP: Early Round 9):

In limited action in the regular season and expanded work in the postseason, Pierce has proven himself to be more-than-capable of carrying the load. This is the definition of an ideal fantasy handcuff because he has absolutely no competition for the No. 2 running back spot. He will do well in the event of a Rice injury, and he’s borderline usable as a flex play even with Rice healthy. If you own Rice, Pierce is a must-have. If you don’t have Rice, Pierce is worth considering. It isn’t generally good practice to draft a backup running back on the hopes that the starter will get hurt when the starter in question is in his physical prime and has made 64 out of his last 64 starts. But Pierce’s 10-12 touches a week will make him a flex option, and he’s likely a top-12 running back if Rice manages to get hurt. Mix all of those things together into a cocktail and you have a recipe for a worthy ninth-round pick.

Should you draft him?

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