Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down the Baltimore Ravens

What can the Baltimore Ravens do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.

Inside the Locker Room
with Aaron Wilson, Carroll (Md.) County Times

Has Joe Flacco topped out or is there another level of production in store for Flacco owners?
Flacco has the necessary weapons, arm strength and accuracy to regularly produce 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns per season. Where we could see an upgraded Flacco is through improved fundamentals taught by new quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. The primary obstacle to bigger numbers, however, is the Ravens’ reliance on Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice in a run-first offense and Flacco’s tendency to use Rice so much as a safety valve.

Can Torrey Smith build on his stellar rookie season and become a No. 1 wide receiver?
Smith is capable of expanding his game and becoming a more complete downfield target, something he proved when his hands gradually improved toward the end of last season. He’s a legitimate big-play threat who’s also being utilized now on intermediate routes in addition to fly patterns and bubble screens. Where Smith needs to continue to hone his game is by catching the football cleanly on a consistent basis. His speed is rare, but the continued presence of veteran Anquan Boldin on the roster means he’ll still be sharing the workload.

Is Ed Dickson going to be the primary tight end or will Dennis Pitta steal enough targets to keep Dickson off fantasy rosters?
The Ravens’ plan is to utilize both tight ends, with Dickson slated to receive more targets than Pitta. While Dickson’s strengths are his superior size and explosiveness, Pitta has arguably the best hands on the team.

Athlon's Best Bets

Sleeper: Torrey Smith, WR
Deep-Sleeper: Ed Dickson, TE
Overvalued: Anquan Boldin, WR
Top Rookie: Courtney Upshaw, LB
Bounce-Back: None
Top IDP: Ray Lewis, LB

2012 Draft Class

2. Courtney Upshaw OLB 6-2 272 Alabama
2. Kelechi Osemele G 6-5 333 Iowa State
3. Bernard Pierce RB 6-0 218 Temple
4. Gino Gradkowski C 6-3 300 Delaware
4. Christian Thompson S 6-0 211 S. Carolina St.
5. Asa Jackson CB 5-10 191 Cal Poly
6. Tommy Streeter WR 6-5 220 Miami (Fla.)
7. DeAngelo Tyson DE 6-2 315 Georgia

Fantasy Impact: The Ravens traded out of the first round but landed an instant impact player in Courtney Upshaw. With Terrell Suggs suffering a torn Achilles, Baltimore needs Upshaw to help with the pass rush in 2012. He could be a sleeper to target in IDP leagues. With Ben Grubbs signing with New Orleans, Kelechi Osemele has a chance to start at guard. Bernard Pierce will back up Ray Rice and should be a handcuff pick in all formats.

Fantasy Playoff Run: Weeks 14-16 (at WAS, DEN, NYG)

Ray Rice, last season’s top fantasy points collector at the running back position, will face two defenses in the semifinals and finals of most fantasy postseasons that were 11th- and 12th-worst against fantasy running backs. And Rice should be used in bulk these three weeks, as the Ravens try to slow down pass offenses led by Robert Griffin III, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.

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