With Joe Flacco entering his third season, Ray Rice likely only getting better, and the addition of a true fantasy stud receiver in Anquan Boldin, things are looking up for the already solid Baltimore Ravens.
And it's no different from a fantasy football angle, either. Flacco has two new rookie tight ends to push slipping veteran Todd Heap, and now has a complete receiving corps that could help take him to the next level.
And Ray Rice, well, he's just another story of his own, as the tiny back out of Rutgers looks to continue to prove doubters wrong, and build on a breakout 2009 campaign. Read on for our five fantasy predictions concerning the 2010 Baltimore Ravens:
1. Joe Flacco Will Play at an Elite Level
As long as he stays healthy, unlike 2009, Flacco finally has the defense, ground game, and receiving options to take the next step toward becoming an elite fantasy quarterback. He's already shown he can put up solid numbers and do it consistently, and with the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth, along with the return of veteran Derrick Mason, he should be in line for more big plays and more attempts in 2010.
Ray Rice's continued success will only help Flacco's development as well. We like Flacco as a solid QB1 this season, but we do suggest grabbing another solid quarterback to help with bad matchups. After all, Flacco does play in a rather difficult division in regards to opposing defenses.
2. Ray Rice Won't Live up to His Selection
Rice proved to be a dynamic threat last season, totaling over 2,000 total yards, while hauling in 70-plus receptions and scoring seven touchdowns on the ground.
However, as long as goal-line ball hog Willis McGahee is in town, Rice won't see his rushing touchdowns climb. And with the addition of Anquan Boldin, it's unlikely we'll see another 70-plus reception and 700-plus receiving season out of the tiny back.
He'll still be explosive and put up good numbers, but will it meet the expectations that come with a top-five pick, and in some "reaching" cases, a top-two or three pick? By our estimation, not quite.
3. Todd Heap Will Lose His Starting Job
Either by injury or simply due to his inconsistency or lack of speed and explosiveness, Heap is on a downward spiral; one of Baltimore's rookie tight ends will jump into his current gig and perform better.
It really could go either way on how Heap loses his job, but with two rookies drafted to be groomed as his replacement, the writing is on the wall that Baltimore wouldn't mind it happening sooner, rather than later.
4. Willis McGahee Won't Be Traded
This is a calculated risk, but we just don't think Baltimore is foolish enough to bank on the small Ray Rice to last a full 16 games without getting crumpled up between the tackles, and then letting their season fall on a no-name back.
McGahee obviously has value as a short-yardage and goal-line runner, but to preserve Rice and keep him healthy and fresh for the postseason, the Ravens would be best advised to hold onto McGahee and, well, actually use him.
5. Anquan Boldin Will Be Worth the Trade and Hype
Boldin is getting ready to change Joe Flacco's and Baltimore's world. He's not a speed demon or a deep threat, but he's a red-zone fiend when he's on, and few receivers are willing to sacrifice their body over the middle and in traffic like he does, and he does it routinely.
Sure, his aggressive style could lead to another nagging injury (per usual), but Flacco has been waiting for a guy with talent like this, and Boldin was brought in to make plays and make the Ravens less predictable on offense. With the Ravens losing faith in their tight end and wanting to get a little more explosive in the passing game, you can count on Boldin producing on a high level in 2010.