While some fall into the realm of the sophomore jinx, Joe Flacco just shrugged his shoulders at such a thought and went on to take a huge leap forward as the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. Last year Flacco passed for over 3,600 yards, adding 650 yards from his rookie year while throwing for 7 more touchdowns 21/14 yet the same amount of interceptions, 12. The strong armed Flacco now has Anquan Boldin to toss the rock to so continued success for this young quarterback is to be expected. A low-end QB1, high-end QB2 in deeper leagues is where he will fall.
You can count on one hand the number of young running backs in the NFL that give more excitement to their teams on any given Sunday than the Ravens Ray Rice. Because of the season that the Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson had last year, people tend to forget that Rice also went for over 2,000 all-purpose yards while nearing double-digit visits to the end zone. Adding some depth at wide receiver this off season should help spread the defense more on the field, keeping them honest and opening up lanes that have never been available to this young running back. There is no doubt that Rice will finish as a mid-high RB1 for the 2010/11 fantasy football season. As good as Rice is though, he still has a pair of formidable backups.
Willis McGahee started last season hotter than the desert sun, ending with a career best 14 touchdowns. McGahee is definitely a step behind Rice on the depth charts in Baltimore and with the addition of Boldin to the receiving game, McGahee will see his touches continuing to decline for the fourth straight season. None-the-less, McGahee deserves to be a low-end RB option to fill out a fantasy football roster, especially for those that own Rice. If the Minute Man were to go down, McGahee would be the back stepping into his place. Le’Ron McClain on the other hand is a very solid fullback who will put up numbers if the top-2 go down, but that happening once again is very unlikely. McClain does not deserve to be drafted in anything other than the deepest of fantasy football formats.
Backups: Matt Lawrence, Jalen Parmele
Flacco finally has a legitimate number one wide receiver option in Boldin who was aquired from the Arizona Cardinals this past off season. A receiver that can draw double-teams while punishing the defender, Boldin has had only two seasons in his career that he has caught less than 83 passes. Averaging close to a touchdown for every two games started, the newest addition to Baltimore now has Flacco and not Kurt Warner tossing him the rock. While his general may be a step down from what he is used to, Boldin will continue to be a solid WR2 in all fantasy football formats.
Derrick Mason is another wide receiver for Baltimore who has found plenty of success in his career. Having trumped 1,000 receiving yards in eight of his last nine seasons, Mason stands out as the true-WR2 that Baltimore has lacked for quite some time. While his looks will most likely go down with the addition of Boldin, the defensive play on him will most likely be softer, allowing Mason to take advantage of passes that he once would not be able to. Look to Mason to be a solid WR3 in deeper leagues.
The other two receivers to keep your eyes on are Donte’ Stallworth and Mark Clayton. While neither should be owned, they are the next options in what is expected to be a fairly high-powered offense. Leave these two go undrafted, grabbing them only during the greatest of match up weeks while you are suffering from the bye-week flu.
Backups: Demetrius Williams, David Reed
Former Arizona State tight end Todd Heap has never materialized into the stud player that a lot of people had expected in the NFL, which can be mainly finger pointed due to injuries. That doesn’t mean that he holds no value in the fantasy football world though. Finishing as a high-end TE2 in deeper leagues, Heap will have his really good weeks and some solid snoozers throughout the year. For 2010/11 though, expect at leaset 500 receiving yards and 4-5 touchdowns if he can remain healthy. He is best drafted for those in fantasy football leagues that have a early bye-week from their top tight end or find themselves possessing a lower-end TE1 option with question marks.
Backups: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
Chris Ziza is a fantasy football fanatic who can be found at Working Man Sports. He hosts a daily Fantasy Football Breakdown Show that you can participate in now until the end of the 2010/11 Super Bowl, helping guide your way to fantasy football domination.