Ravens Fantasy Forecast : Week 1

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Welcome to week one of the NFL Regular Season. Before each game RavensGab will take a look at the various Ravens players poised to make a significant fantasy impact, and provide the strengths and weaknesses associated with each based on current trends and matchups.

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

September 13, 2009, 1:00 pm Baltimore, MD

Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, Breezy, 80 Deg.

Joe Flacco, (2,971 yds, 14 TD, 12 INT 2008)

The sad truth is that until Joe steps out onto the field Sunday afternoon, there’s no definitive way of knowing which Joe we’re going to get. Is it going to be the consummate game manager that we saw last year? The steady strong armed rookie with a run first mentality who showed a great deal of promise, but no real big impact numbers. Or are we perhaps going to get the Joe we saw in Pre-Season? The flashy field general who can kill you with the dip and dunk to Ray Rice, just as easily as he can get you on an out route to Derrick Mason. It’s a toss up at best.

What we can be sure of however, is that Kansas City’s defense is woeful. In 16 games last year they managed to record only 10 sacks. To put this in perspective, the Ravens recorded 34, and Terrell Suggs alone had 8. For owners of Joe Flacco, who might be mulling a start for him in Week 1, odds are you’re looking at a QB who will meet limited to no resistance during the course of his passing game.

Having said that, the only people who should be starting Joe Flacco in Week 1 are players in deeper leagues (12-16 teams). Otherwise you can probably expect solid, but not jaw dropping returns out of the second year Quarterback.

Prediction: 250 yds, 2 TD, INT

Ray Rice, RB, (454 yds, 0 TD 2008)

Ray Rice is the named starter heading into the first week of the regular season. For him this means an increase in carries, and a chance to prove that he belongs among the elite running backs in the National Football league. Small for his position, but with amazing agility and solid hands, Rice should prove to be a valuable addition to any team in search of consistent numbers. Think of him as a freaky hybrid of Brian Westbrook and Maurice Jones-Drew.

The biggest question mark hanging over Ray Rice is how involved Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain will be in this year’s version of the three headed monster. It seems evident that McGahee will take on about of third of the rushing attempts, and McClain, probably one or more of the goal line attempts. If you’re planning on starting Ray Rice, he’s probably best used as a #2 or #/Flex running back. Also bear in mind the fact that Kansas City’s defense has more holes in it than the Titanic.

Prediction: 100+ yds, 1 TD

Willis McGahee, RB, (671 yds, 7 TD 2008)

Demoted to 2nd string this off-season, it appeared at first glance to be the beginning of the end for Willis McGahee. However, coming into the final year of his contract, McGahee reported to Camp in great shape and seems ready to fight for his rightful place at the head of the Raven’s rushing rotation.

For Fantasy purposes, Willis should look to see about 1/3 of the touches handed out to running backs. In case you haven’t been reading up to this point in the article, Kansas City’s Defense isn’t the best, so you can still expect moderate to decent production.

Prediction: 60 yds, 0 TD

Le’Ron McClain, RB, (902 yds, 10 TD 2008)

Last year McClain stepped into to be the workhorse for the Ravens’ ground game. Using his size, power, and athleticism, McClain barrelled over the competition on his way to a near thousand yard season. This year however it seems that McClain has been re-relegated to his role as primary Fullback for Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. This does not suggest that he has lost all fantasy value. McClain is expected to be the feature short yardage and goal line back. While this does not translate into another 900 yard season, it does mean that McClain will steal TDs from McGahee and Rice.

Prediction: 35 yds, 1 TD

Todd Heap, TE, (403 yds, 3 TD, 2008)

After lackluster injury plagued seasons in 2007 and 2008, Todd Heap looks to rebound as a primary receiving target for Joe Flacco. Heap has looked outstanding so far this pre-season, and Ravens fans can only hope that his production carries over into the regular season.

Matching up against Kansas City, look for Todd Heap to have a solid game against against a very poor pass protection defense.

Prediction: 65 yrds, 1 TD

L.J. Smith, TE, (298 yds, 3 TD 2008)

Acquired in the off season from the Philadelphia Eagles, L.J. Smith is looking to get his career back on track after being consistently sidelined by injury. When healthy he is a force to be reckoned with. But he’s not much sue while standing on the sideline.

His status for Sunday’s game is Questionable.

Prediction: N/A

Derrick Mason, WR, (1037 yds, 5 TD 2008)

The iron man of football. Single-handedly (literally) picked the Ravens up on his back and carried them to within a breath of the Superbowl. The ultimate possession receiver. He is, and should remain, Joe Flacco’s go to guy. After coming back from retirement there should be no reason to expect a decline in Mason’s work ethic or production.

This week expect more of the same from Mason. he should be solid against the Chiefs and should be considered a solid #2 or #3/Flex Receiver.

Prediction: 90 Yds, 1 TD

Mark Clayton, WR, (695 Yds, 3 TD)

Many are still waiting for Mark Clayton to live up to his full potential. At times showing flashes of excellence, Clayton has struggled to meet expectations. This season he is looking to reestablish himself as Cam Cameron opens up the playbook allowing for an increase in opportunities. This is a make or break year for Clayton.

As for Week 1, Clayton sat out the entirety of preseason with a pulled hamstring. Although he is not listed on the team’s injury report as of Wednesday, expect the rust to be there, and expect limited playing production.

Prediction: 40 yrds, 0 TD

Steven Hauschka, K, (50% AVG, LG: 54 yds 2008)

Hauschka won the kicking job over rookie Graham Gano, but as everyone in Baltimore will be quick to remind him, he is one phone call away from the return of fan favorite Matt Stover. All eyes will be on this young kicker as the Ravens head into the regular season.

This week will be an interesting test for young Hauschka. His first career start in the NFL.

Prediction: 4 PATs, 1 FG (35 yds)

Defense

As dominant as ever with or without Bart Scott and Rex Ryan, there is no reason to expect any drop off in the level of talent from this Ravens’ defense.

Going into Week 1 the Ravens face an extremely unsettled and suspect offense. A fired Offensive Coordinator, a gimpy starting QB with a bad knee, and an O-Line in flux. It’s been a hard week for Kansas City and it only looks to get harder on Sunday.

Prediction: MUST START

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One Response to “Ravens Fantasy Forecast : Week 1”

  1. […] Ravens Fantasy Forecast : Week 1Welcome to week one of the NFL Regular Season. Before each game RavensGab will take a look at the various Ravens players poised to make a significant fantasy impact, and provide the strengths and weak […]

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