The NFL season is quickly approaching and that means one thing for NFL gambling fanatics (I kid, I kid). But in all seriousness, fantasy football is upon us.
And I'm here to try and help those who need it.
This time I will be making some predictions concerning the new-look Ravens. Will Anquan Boldin raise the offense to new heights? Will Ray Rice have another top notch year?
Just press the little button there that says "Begin Slideshow" to find out.
And I must remind you, these predictions are tentative. They may change due to any additions or injuries that occur before the season.
"Jumpin" Joe Flacco started off on the right foot in 2009 in regard to fantasy numbers. According to ESPN standard fantasy scoring, Flacco had double-digit points in six of his first seven games.
He did struggle for a three-week span in the middle of the season, but hit double-digit scoring numbers in four of the final six games.
Flacco has no excuse to not perform better in 2010. The additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth add to the already strong offense. Remember that Derrick Mason, Todd Heap and Ray Rice are still on this team. Flacco should have opposing defenses begging for mercy this season.
Flacco isn't Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, but he should put up numbers that will make him a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2010.
If you want to wait on a quarterback, Flacco should still be available after the first 10 or so quarterbacks are taken, giving you leeway to spend more picks on receivers and running backs.
Expect him to go between rounds seven and nine in most fantasy drafts.
Prediction: 4,100 passing yards, 27 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions
Ray Rice had a phenomenal sophomore campaign, stealing the lead role from Willis McGahee and leading the Ravens rushing attack. Rice ran for over 1,300 yards and added 78 receptions for 702 yards receiving.
Baltimore ran more than any other team in 2009, so we should expect that trend to continue.
The only problem with Rice is that he shares carries with two other backs (McGahee and Le'Ron McClain). He may lose some touchdowns, but he will get his yards.
Rice is also a great receiver out of the backfield. With all the attention on the new receiving corps, Rice should get a lot of yardage on swing patterns and short routes out of the backfield.
In any draft, Rice will be a top-five pick. Points-per-reception leagues will make his value even higher. As long as he stays healthy, you can expect Rice to be one of the top running backs in 2010.
Prediction: 275 rushing attempts, 1,500 yards, nine rushing touchdowns; 70 receptions, 750 yards receiving, two receiving touchdowns
It's hard to get a read on what the Ravens want to do with McGahee. In 2008, he was supposed to have an outstanding season and fell far short of expectations. In 2009, no one expected anything of him and he pulls off a 14-touchdown year. What gives, Willis?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Ravens move farther away from using McGahee, but he makes the best of his opportunities. He is in a contract year and can try and squeak out one more big contract.
Does he have it in him though?
McGahee should be taken as a No. 3 or No. 4 running back. He will have some good games where he scores a touchdown or two, but he will also have games where he barely sees the field. Be cautious, the temptation will be there, but he should be available in the ninth or 10th round.
Prediction: 100 carries, 400 yards, six rushing touchdowns; 20 receptions, 120 yards, zero receiving touchdowns
McClain was supposed to be the touchdown vulture to Ray Rice in 2009, but that honor went to Willis McGahee. Does McClain remain a top-notch fullback in 2010, or do we see a solid goal line back re-emerge?
McClain saw his rushing attempts go from 232 in 2008 to 46 in 2009. So do we reach a common ground and say he will be somewhere in between this year?
I think McClain will see a more enhanced role, but not close to his 2008 numbers.
Don't be surprised to see McClain fall in drafts this year. He will most likely go in the last two or three rounds, depending on how deep your draft goes.
At the beginning of the season, he should be a fourth or fifth running back on your roster. (Note: This may change through the season if McGahee or Rice suffer injuries. He can carry the load so don't be afraid to take him as a handcuff to Rice.)
Prediction: 100 rushing attempts, 350 yards rushing, six rushing touchdowns; 25 receptions, 150 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown
Anquan Boldin had a nice 2009 season for Arizona.
He did, however, have nine games where he failed to score double-digit fantasy points. Not a good sign, but you can't really blame him (there is a guy named Larry Fitzgerald who played opposite Boldin).
I want to say I expect big things from Boldin in a Ravens uniform, but I can't bring myself to do it.
With guys like Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Donte Stallworth, and the platoon of backs, I can't see Boldin blowing up in his first year. Granted he will get looks, just not enough to put him back into the upper-tier of receivers just yet.
Boldin will be taken somewhere in the second, third, or fourth rounds, depending on when the second-tier of receivers begin to get selected. He won't make a bad No. 1 receiver if you wait to take one, but he won't be the best either.
Prediction: 80 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, seven touchdowns
Derrick Mason came out of a short lived retirement to lead the Ravens' receiving corps in 2009.
Despite being 35, Mason topped 1,000 yards receiving for the third straight year and caught seven touchdown passes. Those numbers have been dropping each year the past three seasons, but he continues to keep on truckin'.
It will be interesting to see how Derrick Mason adapts to a No. 2 role in 2010. He is Flacco's most trusted target and has a great pair of hands. Don't expect a fantastic year from Mason, but expect a consistent one.
Mason will be a great No. 3 receiver for the 2010 fantasy season. He may even prove me wrong and be a lower-end No. 2 receiver. Mason should be off draft boards by the fifth or sixth round.
Prediction: 65 receptions, 850 yards, five receiving touchdowns
Stallworth will be playing his first football since 2008 when he steps on the field this year. He missed all of 2009 after a vehicular manslaughter charge put him in jail and forced him to be suspended.
Stallworth should be the Ravens No. 3 receiver when the season opens. He can stretch the field and should be open more often than not with Mason and Boldin underneath taking on double coverages.
Stallworth's value on draft day will vary depending on how he performs in training camp and how much someone is willing to risk on him. For right now, Stallworth will be a late-round draft pick with some upside.
Prediction: 40 receptions, 600 yards receiving, four touchdowns
Since teaming up with Joe Flacco in 2008, Heap has seen his numbers increase the past two seasons.
Last year, Heap had his highest reception, yards receiving, and touchdown totals since 2006.
So is this a sign that he will be even better in 2010? Signs right now are pointing toward yes.
With the additions of Anquan Boldin, Dante Stallworth, and the re-signing of Derrick Mason, Todd Heap should see some soft coverages coming his way. That, and the fact that Heap has been flourishing with Flacco taking snaps, points to his best year since 2005.
Crazy? Maybe I am, but I can't help to feel that Todd Heap will have a great year.
Tight ends can be tough to judge on draft day. If you're not getting one of the top tight ends, wait until you fill out all of your other major positional needs. Heap will be viewed as a No. 2 tight end and probably go in the ninth or 10th round range. If he falls further, you could be picking up a gem.
Prediction: 60 receptions, 650 yards, seven receiving touchdowns
Cundiff has statistically been an average kicker at best. He struggles on kicks over 40 yards and routinely misses easy kicks. He will hit his extra points, but that's about it.
Cundiff should benefit by playing on a Ravens squad that can score points. If he manages to make most of his kicks, he may keep his roster spot.
If you really want Cundiff on your team, wait until the last round. No one should have drafted him, so he should by all means be available. (That is unless you're participating in a kicker's only league. Than he should be taken in the third round.)
Prediction: 20/30 field goals made, 35/35 extra points made
This defense continues to age, yet it still continues to be one of the best in the league.
The Ravens defense, led by the immortal Ray Lewis, is always stingy, and they take real pride in protecting their house.
They did show some weaknesses last year, giving up 20 points or more six times. That only makes this team hungry for redemption.
You can expect the Ravens to force turnovers and score a few touchdowns. With playmakers such as Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs, the Ravens are primed for another outstanding defensive year in 2010.
Defenses are always hard to judge in fantasy drafts. Some owners will start to take defenses once they fill out their starting roster. Others wait until the later rounds. Defenses should be taken in the later rounds of your draft, but you can expect the Ravens to be one of the first taken.