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2010 Fantasy outlooks: Baltimore Ravens

Senior Fantasy Writer
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After making the postseason in consecutive years under head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens appear to be making their run at the Lombardi trophy in 2010.

The team finally upgraded its receiving corps with the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth and also added some youth to their defensive front via the draft with hefty nose tackle Terrence Cody and pass-rushing specialist Sergio Kindle. They even added ex-Bengals kicker Shayne Graham in an attempt to add competition and performance to their kicking game.

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But most importantly, the Ravens didn't lose much talent-wise from their team during the offseason. There was discussion that safety Ed Reed would retire from issues stemming from a hip injury, but he's back for 2010. The Ravens also held on to the likes of offensive tackle Jared Gaither and running back Willis McGahee, even though they might have been able to trade them for draft picks.

Football fans and Fantasy owners alike are already familiar with the Ravens' stiff defense, but this could be the season where their offense begins to make more noise. Because of the smashing sophomore season from running back Ray Rice and the unlimited potential of quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens are one of the trendy picks heading into the 2010 season.

Late-round flier ... Donte Stallworth, WR

Stallworth is the classic veteran playing with something to prove. After being suspended for all of last season, Stallworth is grateful for a chance to play ball again. And unlike previous stints in New Orleans, Philadelphia and Cleveland, Stallworth won't be relied upon to be the primary receiver. Because the Ravens traded for Boldin and hung on to veteran Derrick Mason, the expectation is that Stallworth will work in the slot and perform as the Ravens' best deep-ball option in years. Plus, with Boldin and Mason not locks for 16 games, there's always the chance Stallworth gets a chance at a bigger opportunity. Ultimately he won't be very consistent, but he'll have a few weeks during the season where he'll catch a long touchdown pass. He's one-week replacement material, but a good one, so drafting him with a late-round pick isn't a bad move at all.

Fantasy value chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Joe Flacco
Running Backs
Ray Rice
Willis McGahee
Wide Receivers
Anquan Boldin
Derrick Mason
Donte Stallworth
Tight Ends
Todd Heap
Kicker/DST
Shayne Graham
Ravens DST

Breakout ... Joe Flacco, QB

This only makes sense: With the additions the Ravens have made on offense with no subtractions, there's nothing but high expectations for Flacco in 2010. Remember the strong start he had last season? Now factor in some stability among his receiving corps and you've got some lofty expectations for the third-year passer. Flacco has continued to progress this offseason, becoming more vocal in the huddle and spending extra time working with his receivers. The hope is that it all pays off in wins for the Ravens and loads of points for his Fantasy owners. We think Flacco is good enough to draft as a starter in Fantasy thanks to his 4,000-yard and 25-touchdown potential.

Bust ... Willis McGahee, RB

McGahee took us on a wild ride last season, busting out the gates with seven total touchdowns in four games and finishing the season with three touchdowns in a win at Oakland. But in between those games he accounted for just four touchdowns over 11 contests, and his yardage total only got inflated in that Week 17 romp at the Raiders (when the Ravens were in control from the get-go and opted to rest some starters). Many owners will draft McGahee expecting him to be a touchdown savior again in 2010, but with Rice established in his role with the Ravens and the offense expected to pass more than in 2009, McGahee might be drawing the short stick more often than not. He's really best served as an insurance policy for those owners who draft Rice with a first-round pick.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@NYJ @CIN CLE @PIT DEN @NE BUF bye MIA @ATL @CAR TB PIT @HOU NO @CLE CIN

It's rough early for the Ravens -- enough to scare people out of drafting Ray Rice with anything higher than the fourth or fifth overall pick -- but once they get toward the middle of their season they should flourish. We especially like their closing schedule, which should not only translate into a postseason push for them but good Fantasy stats for owners.

Training camp topics

2009 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Ray Rice 332
Willis McGahee 124
Derrick Mason 74
LeRon McClain 67
Todd Heap 54

Everything seems in place for the Ravens to be a power in the AFC heading into the season, so there aren't many significant issues facing the team. There could still be an adjustment period for Anquan Boldin learning the nuances of the Ravens' offense, but otherwise their team's Fantasy stars are entrenched on the depth chart so long as they're healthy.

There are some minor hot topics that need to be sorted out, however. Perhaps the most intriguing to Fantasy owners is who the Ravens will tab as their kicker for the season as incumbent Billy Cundiff received competition for the job in the form of ex-Bengals booter Shayne Graham in June. Whoever wins the gig should be of interest to Fantasy owners as a sleeper -- the Ravens attempted 30 field goals and 47 extra points last season, and their offense is more fired up for 2010. Our hunch is that Graham takes the job.

It's also worth noting that wide receiver Derrick Mason came back after contemplating changing teams or retirement earlier this offseason. Mason's return hints that he's back to win a ring, not to notch his 10th 1,000-yard season in 11 years. With Boldin and Stallworth aboard, Mason surely won't act as the team's primary receiver and should most definitely see a decline in production compared to what he's accomplished over his career in Baltimore. Mason is still a crafty receiver with great hands, and Flacco would be wrong to completely forget about him, but modest totals are likely now that the offense has added additional talent.

Injury update

Mark Clayton (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Haloti Ngata (chest; probable for the start of training camp) ... Ed Reed (hip; questionable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:33 pm ET) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:10 am ET) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:47 am ET) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


Kyle Rudolph hopes for contract extension
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph hopes to stay in Minnesota on a long-term contract, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Rudolph is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He said Tuesday that the team, which still has approximately $10 million in salary cap space after a busy offseason, has not approached him about a contract extension.

"I've really enjoyed my time here, from the top down, in our organization," Rudolph said. "I think we have the best owners in football. They're willing to do anything for us to win. Everybody in the front office, the new staff, I really like the direction this team is going in. I'm excited to be a part of that future."

Rudolph is hoping to bounce back after he was limited to eight games in 2013 because of a fracture in his left foot. He caught 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns before injuring his foot in a Week 9 loss to the Cowboys. 

He has been studying tape of the Browns from last season so he can get a feel for how he will be utilized in new coordinator Norv Turner's offense. Tight ends such as Jay Novacek, Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron produced impressive numbers in three different decades with Turner calling the plays.

"I hope to fall in line with that," Rudolph said. "I'm excited to get into this offense."


Peyton Manning excited for Emmanuel Sanders
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:21 am ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning recently spent time working out at Duke University with some of his receivers, including newest addition Emmanuel Sanders. Manning said "it was good to get some good work with him." 

Sanders is expected to replace the departed Eric Decker, and Manning said they have a lot of work to do.

"I'm excited about playing with him," Manning said.


Peyton: Montee Ball can handle new role
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:14 am ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said running back Montee Ball has a great opportunity now that Knowshon Moreno is gone as a free agent to Miami.

"I thought Montee had a great year," Manning said. "I thought he learned a lot in his first year. In my past, I've seen a lot of development in guys from their first year to their second year. There is no question with the loss of Knowshon — who was just nothing short of awesome for us this past year and was a great teammate — that Montee is going to have more responsibilities, and I think he will answer that challenge. I think he has the work ethic, I think he has the mental capabilities to handle the workload and I look forward to having a full offseason with him. He didn't have a full one last year because of being a rookie, so I look forward to getting even closer with him as far as being on the same page."


Carson Palmer OK if Cardinals draft quarterback
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:11 am ET) Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer would be OK if the team drafted a quarterback in the NFL Draft, reports the team's official website.

Palmer, 34, said if the team drafts a quarterback it would make sense.

"If you are in a position to draft the best player on your board, and that's the best position to be in as an organization, and (a quarterback) is the best player on the board, you are not only making your team better by creating competition but you are helping out the future," Palmer said. "I know I'm not going to play forever. It’s hard for us players to admit that. The older you get the harder it is to admit it. You don't see it happening. You still feel good, you still feel confident, you still feel healthy. But that's the reality. That's the business. It doesn't matter how you feel about it, whether it irks you or you don't care. That’s the game."

Palmer is coming off a solid season in 2013. He threw for a career-high 4,274 yards with 24 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.


Gerald McCoy says he won't hold out
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:10 am ET) Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy promised he wouldn't hold out of training camp this summer even though he's going into the final year of his contract. 

"When they say report to camp, Gerald McCoy will be there regardless of what happens," McCoy said per the Tampa Bay Times. McCoy also told the paper he can't wait to play in the Bucs' new version of the Cover-2 defense

"It's definitely going to be different," McCoy said. "We're playing the old-school, traditional Tampa 2 defense, and all we've been watching is old Chicago tape when (new Bucs coach Lovie Smith) was there. When (the Bucs) were in their prime, from 1996 to 2002, we've been watching all that tape because that's when the Tampa 2 was really thriving and took over the league. I'm excited about it."


Malcom Floyd's status still uncertain
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:03 am ET) Even though Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd plans to attend the team's voluntary workouts April 22, it doesn't mean his football career is back on track, reports the Union-Tribune San Diego.

Floyd continues to recover from a neck injury suffered in September. His participation in the offseason workouts will be more limited than most of his teammates, according to the report.

The report also added that no decision has been made whether Floyd will be able to continue playing. For weeks, Floyd has been running and lifting. While the injury did not require surgery, it demanded a long recovery. Risk of re-injury will be assessed before any decision about Floyd's return to the field is made.


 
 
 
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