According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice didn't practice on Friday, Sept. 20. As a result, Jim Corbett of USA TODAY Sports reports that Rice has been listed as doubtful for the Ravens' Sept. 22 game against the Houston Texans.
The question that every fantasy football owner is asking is simple: What does this mean for backup running back Bernard Pierce?
Rice is currently nursing a right hip flexor, per Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. He sustained the injury during Baltimore's Week 2 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns, when the former Rutgers star ran for 36 yards and a fumble on 13 carries.
With Rice expected to miss Baltimore's game against Houston, Pierce is expected to make his first career start.
#Ravens backup RB Bernard Pierce expected to make first NFL start.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 20, 2013
Here's what you need to know about Baltimore's Week 3 featured back.
Pierce, 23, was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, which displays just how high the Ravens are on him. As a rookie, he ran for 532 yards and a touchdown on 108 carries, good for 4.9 yards per attempt.
Those numbers are especially impressive when you consider the fact that Rice played in all 16 games during the 2012 regular season.
In 2013, Pierce has accumulated 79 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. While his numbers may be low, Pierce's touchdown was during Week 2, as Baltimore turned to him with Rice battling an injury.
As for what he'll do in Week 3, Pierce's teammates trust him to step up.
Torrey Smith on Bernard Pierce: "We have all the confidence in the world in him. Just watch him play." http://t.co/RxPa70v2WP— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 19, 2013
Fantasy football owners should share that excitement.
Everyone's focus has been on the defensive players who left Baltimore, but the personnel that the Ravens lost on offense has been even more critical. Last year's leading receiver Anquan Boldin is with the San Francisco 49ers, and both Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta are out with injuries.
Houston, a team with a stout pass rush, will likely exploit Baltimore's lack of depth and get after the quarterback, with reigning sacks leader J.J. Watt leading the charge. In turn, Baltimore will need to run the football and alleviate the pressure from Joe Flacco.
His long-term value depends on the extent of Rice's absence, but during Week 3, Pierce is a gamble worth making in fantasy football leagues.