Fantasy Value: Ray Rice

Daniel MaderContributor IJune 16, 2009

Seeing how the fantasy mock drafts have been panning out, it seems as though everybody will have to steal a running back late to add depth in that position.

Ray Rice may be a way to go to ensure production out of a second or third running back spot on your team.

Rice played predominantly the third down back role on the team last year. In this role he was able to produce more than 400 yards, but no touchdowns. However he had a 4.2 yards per carry average indicating he will be able to produce well if given more opportunities. 

Rice's fantasy stock should be rising on your boards due to the recent reports of McClain returning to be a blocking fullback since the team did not resign Lorenzo Neal.

However, the reports of McGahee possibly being the backup is what may have Rice's stock soaring.

McGahee was plagued with injuries last season and ultimately lost his job to McClain. The once prominent rookie running back, has never really been able to put the package together because of injuries throughout his career. 

The Ravens really like Rice's ability to get low and push piles even for his small frame. He has a quick burst through holes and never stops his legs from moving. He is a typical physical Raven running back that now has a great possibility of starting.

Let's say for argument sake he just ultimately splits carries with McGahee. 

The goose egg for touchdowns Rice had will not continue with McClain as the fullback. Rice would probably get the majority of the carries at the goaline over McGahee as well.

Another factor is the Ravens will rely heavy on their running game in which they ranked fourth in the league last season.

Flacco is only heading into his second year and still needs the running game to slow down the game in front of him due to his young experience.

In a addition to Flacco, the Ravens failed to improve the receiving core around their young QB. This makes their running game their best offensive weapon to use.

As training camp and preseason roll on we will get a better idea of Rice's role in Baltimore this season. Rice is only projected as a 13th round pick.

There is nothing to lose drafting Rice in this spot, in fact there is only everything to gain. Whether he is a starter or just splitting carries, Rice could prove to be a great sleeper and may be in your starting lineup sooner than you would expect.