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Reaction-Overreaction: Baltimore Ravens Backfield

Throughout the year there are ups and downs for any fantasy team. Whether you’re relaxing on the couch enjoying an afternoon watching your fantasy team pile up the points or you’ve just spent your weekend cursing at your laptop, fantasy owners tend to cling to a what have you done for me lately attitude. Staying on top of emerging trends is critical, but keeping your emotions out of the conclusions you draw from a weekend of game opinion is a challenging task. In the first edition of Reaction-Overreaction, we turn our attention on the Baltimore Ravens’ backfield.

The Situation

Ravens running back Ray Rice found himself mired in a timeshare in the season opener Thursday, ceding 42% of the team’s carries to second year bull Bernard Pierce. Rice made fantasy owners happy with a touchdown, but this is not a situation that is going way.

Reaction

Rice carried the ball jut three more times than Pierce as the Ravens got thumped by the Broncos. Even in a blowout, Rice was able to put up 71 total yards on 20 touches, performing particularly well for PPR owners, reeling in 8 receptions on 11 targets. He also punched in a 1-yard TD run, giving him a pretty solid fantasy day.

Overreaction

Rice is an aging back with 1,216 carries over the past 5 seasons. He averaged just 3.0 yards per carry in the opener, he’s losing touches to a younger, fresher back and he saw a goal-line TD vultured by pro-bowl fullback Vonta Leach. Last year, Rice out carried Pierce at a 2.5:1 ratio, but as we saw Thursday, that will move much close to a 50-50 split this season. With Rice no longer in position to be a workhorse back in an offense that lost two of its top four offensive weapons this offseason. Rice’s days as a RB1 have come to an abrupt halt and, despite spending a top-10 selection on the Ravens’ tailback on draft day, it’s already time for you to sell Rice before he’s exposed as a weekly RB2 and his value continues to plummet.

Analysis

It is easy to get carried away with small samples, but sometimes you need to look beyond the box score to dive in. Yes, Rice figures to share the workload on the ground this season, rotating series with his younger counterpart. Still, he managed 20 touches and a touchdown on Thursday and, more often than not, was in the game when the Ravens approached pay-dirt. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what you are looking for from your starter. Rice will continue to see a hefty number of targets in the passing game and even in a game were the ravens were getting waxed, Rice got his. You simply have to believe that they Ravens will try to avoid making Joe Flacco chuck he ball 60+ times everyday weekend and the best way to do that is to rely on a solid ground game. The Ravens win football games by playing defense and grinding out victories and the uber-consistent Ray Rice is a perfect player to thrive in that role. Stay the course in Rice, a back that will continually find his way into our top-10, and perhaps even use this so-so performance and frustrating timeshare into a nice buy low opportunity.

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