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Baltimore Ravens Team Preview

Jacob Adler explains why Ray Rice isn't worth your draft pick this year. Also, should Dennis Pitta really be considered a breakout candidate?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

QB: Joe Flacco

What is new with Flacco this year? Extensive measures were taken to ensure that his job be as convenient as possible, like signing Steve Smith and Owen Daniels while letting Michael Oher leave in free agency. He can still be a decent QB2 in fantasy, with the only obstacle being interceptions. He threw 22 in 2013, and mostly due to bad decisions. In standard leagues, there is no reason to select him, not even as a backup.

RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce

If I can, I’m avoiding Ravens running backs this season. The offensive line was terrible last year and doesn’t look to be much better this year, and there are too many things to go wrong. Rice could get hurt, and he didn’t look good with a hip injury last year. In fact, he just looked awful. Some of that might be the carries catching up to him, and some might be the injury. I’m not spending a fourth rounder on him when there are pseudo studs still out there. Pierce looked great and terrible in 2013, so it could all be the line, but I’d like to see how he responds to Kubiak's offense first before buying.

WR: Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown

By now, we know that Torrey Smith can accrue 1,000 receiving yards in a season, but we want to know whether he can score touchdowns. A lot of this depends on Flacco’s play, as he can be a great passer on deep throws, but also on whether Torrey can convert the few red zone opportunities he gets. The upside is only WR2, so be careful not to overdraft him.

Steve Smith, after being released by the Panthers, signed with the Ravens and will get the first look at a not-so-juicy second receiver job. It would take a 14 or 16 team league for me to take a look at him, and that’s just speculation. I like Brown as a sleeper, but he and Jones won’t get many targets, and this offensive isn’t efficient enough to take a chance on one of them. Maybe next year.

TE: Dennis Pitta, Owen Daniels

If acquired at the right value, Pitta is great. But there’s a lot of hype surrounding him now that Gary Kubiak is here, and Kubiak really likes to use his tight ends. But why is nobody talking about how the Ravens signed Kubiak’ favorite tight end from Houston, Owen Daniels, to a bargain-bin contract? Daniels will take over Ed Dickson’s role as the second tight end, except he can actually catch the football. Pitta will probably be on the fringe of top 10 status but might be drafted higher.

Defense/Special Teams

In my D/ST rankings,  I ranked the Ravens 12th on the grounds that even more starters left in free agency. However, the defense excels against both the run and the pass so it is one of the safer streamers available.