Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles Week 2: Fantasy Football Preview

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIISeptember 16, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens is introduced before playing against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 44-13. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

An inter-conference matchup between franchises with birds as mascots features the suddenly high-flying Baltimore Ravens going to Philadelphia to visit the nose-diving Eagles in Week 2.

The biggest fantasy football story entering this game is Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick’s bid to bounce back against a defense that was…well, ravenous in Week 1.

He’ll be without at least one wide receiver in this contest. Riley Cooper has already been declared out for the game.

Three guys in front of him on the depth chart—DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant—all found themselves on the injury report this week as well.

If Vick is missing his speed demons on the outside, it will be a long day against Baltimore. The Ravens would be able to key in on stopping LeSean McCoy and Vick from breaking big runs out of the backfield.

McCoy would likely get more touches in the short passing game, but he would also be less efficient. Regardless, he’s a must-start fantasy RB.

At full strength, however, the Eagles pose a legitimate threat to run with the Ravens on the scoreboard. Jackson would force defenses to respect the deep ball while Maclin and Avant rack up receptions in the intermediate passing game.

McCoy would have room to run.

So would Vick.

Vick targeted his two tight ends 14 times out of his 56 throws in Week 1. Brent Celek saw eight balls thrown his way while Clay Harbor got six.

Celek led the pair in yardage. Harbor scored a touchdown.

This pair is not Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Neither is a recommended fantasy start in Week 2. The Ravens’ tight ends, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, are in the same boat. Pitta led his team in targets in Week 1, but will it happen again?

The fewer options that the Ravens have to defend, the stronger they appear to be as a fantasy defense this week against Philadelphia. Combine that with the fact that the Eagles committed five turnovers in Week 1, and the Ravens’ D has to be in fantasy lineups.

Joe Flacco played some mistake-free football on Monday night in Week 1 against the Bengals at home (21/29 passing, 299 yards and two touchdowns with no INTs). But can he perform that well on the road?

Recent history suggests that he can.

Flacco threw 10 touchdowns and six interceptions during home games in 2011. He also threw 10 touchdowns and six picks in the Ravens’ road games that season.

However, he took seven more sacks on the road (19) than at home (12), making the Eagles’ defense worth a look in fantasy. The Eagles should also be a better defensive unit than the Bengals in 2012. Proceed with caution starting Flacco in Week 2.

Ray Rice should see more than the 10 carries he was handed in Week 1. He’s a must-start fantasy running back despite the discouraging 2.1 yards-per-carry average that the Eagles allowed to Trent Richardson in their first game.

For the thrill-seeking fantasy owner, Torrey Smith is an interesting bet to have a big game in Week 2. He could also be completely silenced by the likes of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha.

If the Eagles elect to have their corners shadow the Ravens’ receivers, they’ll likely match speed for speed with DRC on Smith. Asomugha would be on an island with Boldin.