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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Baltimore Ravens

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Torrey Smith is talking a big game this season, and that's something we like to hear from a player with his level of talent. He's expecting a breakout campaign, and Fantasy owners should plan to target him on Draft Day.

Smith told me at Anquan Boldin's charity event in April that his goal for 2012 is to gain at least 1,000 yards and score 10 touchdowns. He expects to improve on his productive rookie year in 2011.

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"Just being consistent," Smith said. "If I was consistent with my plays last year I would have had well over 1,000 yards. That's my goal. I just have to be more focused, become a better technician and be more consistent. Everything else will take care of itself."

Smith had 50 catches, 841 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and he's already working this offseason on improving. He wants to be a more complete receiver.

Of his seven scores last year, three came in one game (Week 3 at the Rams), and he scored in consecutive games once. His yardage was also wobbly as there was only one occasion where he had back-to-back games with at least 50 yards.

"I feel like I was able to have an OK season last year," Smith said. "That's pretty much as raw as it gets for me. I feel like I have nowhere to go but up. I'm far from a finished product. I just want to work this whole summer, try to get my technique down and go out and dominate next year."

We like Smith a lot heading into this year, and he has the chance to be a solid Fantasy contributor. His teammates agree.

Boldin told me he likes Smith's work ethic. Ray Rice said in an interview that Smith has "freakish talent" and is ready to become a star.

"For him, the sky's the limit," Boldin said. "He's one of those guys that's willing to learn and willing to get better."

Added Rice: "Now he has to just channel that talent into the fundamentals. But he's got it."

Smith should be viewed as a No. 3 Fantasy option coming into the season, but he could be a starter in all leagues if he continues to progress based on his rookie year. He should be drafted beginning in Round 5 in the majority of formats.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Joe Flacco 12
Running Backs
Ray Rice 1
Bernard Pierce ND
Anthony Allen ND
Damien Berry ND
Wide Receivers
Torrey Smith 5
Anquan Boldin 8
Jacoby Jones ND
Tandon Doss ND
Tight Ends
Ed Dickson ND
Dennis Pitta ND
Kickers/Defense
Billy Cundiff ND
Ravens DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Bust ... Anquan Boldin, wide receiver
Boldin is coming off a 2011 season where he actually set a career high with 15.6 yards per catch, but Fantasy owners will tell you he looked slow and old. The reality is Boldin is not the same receiver he was with the Cardinals for a variety of reasons. For starters, he is slower and older at 31 (32 in October) and entering his 10th year in the NFL. But the biggest reason for his decline in stats is his role has changed on a run-based team. He plays inside more with Baltimore than he did with Arizona, and he's not used as much in the red zone. Joe Flacco also isn't close to the quarterback Kurt Warner was, and Boldin's production will continue to decline this year. The addition of Jacoby Jones will force Boldin to play more in the slot, and he will also lose targets to tight end Ed Dickson over the middle. Based on his role in the offense, Boldin is still worth drafting as a No. 3 receiver with a mid-round pick. But if you think Boldin can still be a viable starter for you in the majority of leagues then you'll be sorry.

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Late-round flier ... Ed Dickson, tight end
I'm not big on telling Fantasy owners to draft two tight ends in the majority of standard leagues, but if you're so inclined then take a flier on Dickson. He will continue to share playing time with Dennis Pitta, and Boldin will take away targets over the middle. But Dickson had a productive year in 2011 with 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns. He closed the season with two touchdowns in his final three games, and he finished just 15 Fantasy points outside the Top 12 tight ends in standard formats. If he can increase his production slightly in his third year then he could be a steal with a late-round pick. Remember, tight ends tend to surprise us on a yearly basis, and Dickson could be among the group of potential breakout options with Jermaine Gresham, Jared Cook and Jacob Tamme. He's definitely at the tail end of that group, but Dickson could end up as a quality target for Flacco this season.

Keeper-league target ... Bernard Pierce, running back
The Ravens are hopeful there won't be a problem with Rice's contract situation heading into training camp, but if he's a holdout then the No. 2 running back in Baltimore will be a popular player for Fantasy owners. The Ravens have three players competing for the job in Pierce, Anthony Allen and Damien Berry. We expect Pierce to win the role, and he is worth drafting as a handcuff option to Rice. In deep keeper leagues, Fantasy owners should take a flier on Pierce. He played well for Temple and finished his career ranked second in rushing yards (3,570) despite playing only three seasons. The 6-foot, 218-pounder scored 53 career touchdowns, including 21 as a senior, when he finished with 1,481 yards on the ground. Baltimore drafted Pierce in Round 3 of the NFL Draft, and he could be the backup to Rice for several years depending on what happens with Rice's contract.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
CIN @PHI NE CLE @KC DAL @HOU bye @CLE OAK @PIT @SD PIT @WAS DEN NYG @CIN
The Ravens will have their hands full in their first three games against the Bengals, Eagles and Patriots. A saving grace is that two of those games are at home, along with a matchup vs. the Browns in Week 4. They'll face a lot of potent offenses, actually, and that includes both Manning brothers in consecutive weeks starting in Week 15. Maybe the Ravens DST won't be quite as effective as we're used to, especially with Terrell Suggs (Achilles' tendon) out. And with the passing offense in mind, the schedule is mostly good. Fact is, if the Ravens are in a bunch of high-scoring games, they'll need more than Rice to compete. They also take on the Steelers twice in three weeks, which is odd.

Training camp topics

The Ravens have three major talking points worth monitoring during training camp which will have an impact on Draft Day. None is bigger than Rice, who hopefully will play out the season under the franchise tag or sign a long-term deal. We hope Rice does not hold out because he is a Top 3 overall selection in the majority of leagues. A lengthy holdout could ruin his value (see Chris Johnson circa 2011).

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Ray Rice 291 carries, 76 catches
Ricky Williams 108 carries, 13 catches
Anquan Boldin 57 catches
Torrey Smith 50 catches, 4 carries
Ed Dickson 54 catches

This is also a potential contract year for Flacco, and we want to see if he's ready to have a big season. For years, Fantasy owners have been cautiously optimistic about Flacco having a breakout season. And for years, owners have been disappointed. Flacco has been decidedly mediocre in his four seasons in Baltimore, never topping 3,622 passing yards or 25 touchdowns in a single year.

Flacco has the talent and weapons to succeed, but he has yet to put it all together. If he is playing for a new contract that could be the extra motivation he needs. We consider him a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback worth a late-round pick, but he could end up as a steal on Draft Day if this is his breakout campaign.

On defense, the Ravens lost a huge contributor when standout pass rusher Suggs suffered a torn Achilles' tendon in May. Replacing his 25 sacks over the past two years is impossible, but the Ravens are hopeful rookie Courtney Upshaw can help fill the role. Upshaw could be a great late-round flier in all IDP leagues.

Injury update

Smith (hernia; probable for the start of training camp) ... Suggs (Achilles' tendon; out for year)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Chip Kelly: Eagles weren't close to trading for Dolphins' Dion Jordan
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) The Eagles were rumored to be making an offer to the Dolphins for defensive end Dion Jordan , but coach Chip Kelly denied that a deal was ever close to completion. 

"We weren't close at all to any deal or trade or player talk in terms of dealing with Dion," Kelly said, per Philly.com.

Kelly confirmed that Jordan's name came up in trade talks with Miami but brushed off the significance. "If you guys know how much organizations talk about trading players, it's every day," he said.  

Jordan played for Kelly in college at Oregon and is suspended for the entire 2015 season after a third violation of the league's drug policy. 


Steelers linebacker James Harrison to see less snaps in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) Steelers veteran linebacker James Harrison is expected to see less snaps in 2015, according to linebackers coach Joey Porter per the Pittsburgh Tribune.

"He knows where he is," Porter said shortly after the Steelers drafted Miami (Fla.) outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo on the final day of the NFL Draft. "I told him already, the James Harrison (of before) is over.

"He's going to play his role, and his role is going to be effective. He knows what we're asking out of him, and he's going to be ready to answer the bell."

Porter said he expects Harrison to play roughly 25 snaps per game next season. Pittsburgh took another outside linebacker in Bud Dupree from Kentucky in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday.

"You can never have enough pass rushers in the way the game is being played now from the outside linebacker position," Porter said. "We just made our outside linebacker tree a little deeper."


Chip Kelly: No trade offers for Eagles' Evan Mathis
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) Eagles coach Chip Kelly said that the team hasn't received any offers for disgruntled offensive lineman Evan Mathis in the last two years. 

Kelly confirmed that the team gave Mathis' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, permission to seek a trade, per Philly.com

"That's through his agent and him," Kelly said on Saturday. "They've asked if he could renegotiate a contract and see what he could get, and we've obliged him with that, but we've never had an offer." 

Kelly said he didn't know if Mathis would be back with the Eagles next season. "That's a question for Evan," he said.


Raiders have 'open competition' between Jon Feliciano, Khalif Barnes
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) The Raiders drafted Miami guard Jon Feliciano in the fourth round, and offensive line coach Mike Tice has him slated for right guard. 

Feliciano will need to beat out veteran Khalif Barnes to win the job. 

"Right guard and right tackle is an open competition,"  Tice said, per CSN Bay Area. "We’re pretty set on the left and in the middle, and hopefully those guys can maintain their growth. We pointed out some things they can get better at, but the right side is where the competition is."

The candidates for right tackle are Menelik Watson and Austin Howard

"All you want coming in is an opportunity to compete and get better," Feliciano said. "We have that there at the Raiders, and I know everyone is going to go in there and compete. That’s going to be awesome."


Giants' Landon Collins not worried about replacing Antrel Rolle
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) The Giants made safety Landon Collins their pick in the second round of the draft, trading up to get him. That likely means that the Alabama product will get the chance to replace Antrel Rolle, who signed with Chicago as a free agent. 

Collins thinks he's up to the challenge. 

"Starting at Dutchtown [high school], I came in right after Eric Reid," Collins said, per NJ.com. "Then going to Alabama I came in after Mark Barron, Ha Ha Clinton Dix, and Vinnie Sunseri, plenty of big shoes to fill. Stepping into Antrel Rolle's shoes, I'm gonna definitely fill those too and keep it on going."


Eagles' Eric Rowe plans to start, 'it's not like I'm behind Revis'
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) Eagles second-round draft pick Eric Rowe met the media, and the defensive back from Utah sounded confident he'll be able to start immediately. 

"It is a really good opportunity for me to come in and play right away," Rowe said Saturday , per NJ.com. "I'm kind of fortunate that it's not a situation that I'm behind [Darrell] Revis." 

Rowe could play corner or sfaety. He doesn't have a preference. 

"I hope that wherever they place me that that's where I stay the whole season," he said. "Just so I can focus on it. If it happens that I need to switch out of necessity, I'll happily do it."


Disgruntled RB Zac Stacy shipped from Rams to Jets
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) Disenchanted running back Zac Stacy has been traded from the Rams to the Jets, a source has told ESPN. Details have yet to be revealed, though the return on the deal is considered to be minimal.

The last straw for Stacy was the first-round draft of Todd Gurley. Stacy had fallen behind Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham on the depth chart a year ago. After starting 12 games and rushing for 973 yards in 2013, he started five games and rushed for 293 yards last season.

The Jets have struggled to find a featured back in recent years. Chris Ivory led the team with 821 yards in 2014.


Pete Carroll says Seahawks aren't trading Bruce Irvin
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the draft, but coach Pete Carroll put them to rest. 

"Bruce has done a great job for us," Carroll told ESPN. "We love him and we want him to be here. Somebody started that rumor about us wanting to trade him. That's not what's going on."

Carroll also denied that the Seahawks' second-round pick, pass rusher Frank Clark , had anything to do with the possibility of being without Irvin. 


Report: Jets show interest in disgruntled Rams RB Zac Stacy
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) The Jets have inquired about disgruntled Rams running back Zac Stacy, but have yet to make a formal trade offer, the New York Daily News reports.

Stacy fell behind Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham last season, and when the Rams selected Todd Gurley in first round of the draft, he made a public demand to leave St. Louis via trade and release. Stacy met with the Rams on Friday.

Stacy rushed for 973 yards and seven touchdowns on 250 carries in his rookie season in 2013 but managed just 293 yards and one touchdown on 76 carries last season while making just five starts.


Jets acquire WR DeVier Posey from the Texans
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5/2/2015) The Texans traded wide receiver DeVier Posey, a third-round pick (No. 82 overall), fifth-round pick (No. 152 overall) and a seventh-round pick (No. 229 overall) to the Jets in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 70 overall) on Friday.

Posey was taken in the third round (68th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Texans and racked up only 22 catches for 272 yards and no touchdowns in his three-year run with Houston.


 
 
 
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