Is A Good Defense Your Best Offense?: Fantasy Breakdown of the Ravens @ Steelers

Jeremy AlpertSenior Analyst IIJanuary 14, 2011

Divisional Playoff Weekend Matchup:  Baltimore Ravens (13-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Rankings based on top 9 QBs, 17 RBs, 29 WRs and 13 TEs

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Baltimore Ravens (13-4)  

Opponent Final 2010 Defensive Ranks

Pittsburgh Pass Defense – 2010: Yards Allowed/Game 12th (214 Yds/Gm) - TDs Allowed 3rd (15)

Pittsburgh Rush Defense – 2010: Yards Allowed/Game 1st (62.8 Yds/Gm) – TDs Allowed T-1st (5)


Baltimore Offensive Cast


Joe Flacco (QB Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 5)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 306/489 – for 3,622 yards, 25 TDs & 10 INTs

Joe Cool actually did pretty well in his two games against the Steelers this season averaging 261 yards and one TD a game, but the numbers won’t come as easy this time around.  Flacco may have had the best game of his playoff career against KC last week, but the Chiefs weren’t nearly as experienced as the Steelers are.  His season average against them of 261 and a TD is the ceiling this Saturday.

Ray Rice (RB Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 10)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 307 carries for 1,220 yards & 5 TDs || 63 receptions for 556 yards & 1 TD

Rice did pretty well last week against the Chiefs, but was completely shut down against Pittsburgh during the season.  In their two games combined, Ray managed just 52 yards on 17 carries (3.1 YPC), three receptions for 27 yards and accounted for zero points on the board.  The Steelers know that one of the keys to beating the Ravens is to stop Ray Rice, and you can believe they’ll be doing everything they can towards that end once again this weekend. 


Willis McGahee (RB Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 12)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 100 carries for 380 yards & 5 TDs || 14 receptions for 55 yards & 1 TD

McGahee actually had more carries against the Steelers this year than Rice did (21 to 17) but ended up with fewer yards in the stat-sheet as well (46 yards, 2.2 YPC).  He did manage to ramble off a nine-yard TD in those games and will likely be used as the goal-line back this Saturday, but the chance of him doing much else is nil.

Anquan Boldin (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 5)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 64 receptions for 837 yards & 7 TDs

Just as they did in their two games during the season, Flacco and the Ravens will be depending on Boldin quite a bit this weekend.  ‘Quan led the team in both targets and receptions each game averaging 8.5 targets, six catches and 93 yards over the two (including one TD).  The Steelers are as physical a defense as there is in the league, so Boldin will need to use his size to gain separation.

Derrick Mason (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 12)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 61 receptions for 802 yards & 7 TDs

Mason is as steady as it gets for a wide receiver.  He’s smart enough and been around long enough to find holes whatever defense he sees, but the problem is that he’s also old and beat up, a fact the Steelers will likely exploit.  His experience will be enough to put up some decent stats, but don’t expect much more than that.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 23)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 30 receptions for 398 yards & 3 TDs

Housh is another veteran with a good head for the game, but his skills have eroded to the point that anything more than just a few targets and a catch or two is all that can be expected.

Todd Heap (TE Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 4)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 40 receptions for 599 yards & 5 TDs

WOW what a performance by the 30-year old Heap against the Chiefs last weekend, eh?!  13 targets, 10 receptions and 108 yards?  Not too shabby at all.  I suspect Flacco will again look his way quite a bit this weekend, though the chance of garnering those same numbers is minimal.  However, he’ll be a big-time red-zone target with the Steelers rarely giving up a rushing TD.

Ed Dickson (TE Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 10)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 11 receptions for 152 yards & 1 TD

Dickson may be used a little more than people think this weekend as the Ravens will need an extra big body in there to combat Pittsburgh’s over-powering front seven.  A couple of catches and maybe a surprise red-zone target isn’t out of the question.

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)  

Opponent Defensive Ranks

Baltimore Pass Defense – 2010: Yards Allowed/Game 21st (225 Yds/Gm) - TDs Allowed T-9th (22)

Baltimore Rush Defense – 2010: Yards Allowed/Game 5th (93.9 Yds/Gm) – TDs Allowed T-1st (5)


Pittsburgh Offensive Cast


Ben Roethlisberger (QB Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 4)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 240/389 – for 3,200 yards & 17 TDs & 5 INTs

Roethlisberger didn’t get to play in the Steelers first game against the Ravens this year due to his suspension, but he did just fine in the second throwing for 253 yards and a TD en route to a 13-10 victory in Baltimore.  I can’t say Big Ben turns it on come playoff time as his career regular season and playoff averages are almost identical, but with the Ravens only soft spot on D being their pass defense, you can bet Pittsburgh’s game plan will allow for some pretty good numbers out of Roeth this Saturday.

Rashard Mendenhall (RB Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 3)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 324 carries for 1,273 yards & 13 TDs || 23 receptions for 167 yards & 0 TDs

The Ravens rush D is second to Steelers in terms of domination, so Rashard will have his work cut out for him this weekend.  However, unlike Rice on the opposing sideline, Pittsburgh won’t stray from using Mendy so you know he’ll at least get the touches to produce.  Earlier in the season, Mendenhall scored two TDs against them and even though it’s not likely to happen again, he’s still the goal-line back so there’s a chance.

Mike Wallace (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 3)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 60 receptions for 1,257 yards & 10 TDs

Wallace had the most targets and receptions in each of the first two contests and will probably do the same this weekend.  If Pittsburgh wants to beat this Baltimore D, they’ll need their speedy receiver to stretch the defense on a regular basis, so look for at least a couple of bombs floating his way.  Of all the wideouts still left in the playoffs, Wallace is no doubt the most likely to catch one and take it to the house.

Hines Ward (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 19)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 59 receptions for 755 yards & 5 TDs

Ward’s speed and skills have diminished to the point where he’s having a tough time getting open in space, so don’t expect too much out of the seasoned vet in this one.  His best remaining qualities are his overall toughness and blocking ability, of which both will be on display come Saturday.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 14)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 28 receptions for 376 yards & 2 TDs

The electric third-round pick out of LSU looks to have taken over as Roethlisberger’s No. 2 receiver in the offense as his speed and play-making ability are simply too awesome to ignore.  Look for a good 6-7 targets to come his way and a handful of catches to come out of them.

Antwaan Randle El (WR Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 27)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 22 receptions for 253 yards & 0 TDs

Randle El isn’t used as a receiver very much in this offense, but if Pitt decides to run a trick play or two, you can be sure Antwaan and his variety of skills will be involved.

Heath Miller (TE Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 7)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 42 receptions for 512 yards & 2 TDs

The Ravens D is one of the best in guarding tight ends, so I’m not expecting much out of Miller here.  However, Big Ben does love to use him as a last second dump-off, so a handful of catches for decent yardage is likely.

Matt Spaeth (TE Playoff Week 2 Ranking: No. 13)

Final 2010 Season Stats: 9 receptions for 80 yards & 1 TD

Spaeth did a fine job filling in for Miller while he was out for a couple of games during the season, but with Heath back in the lineup, he won’t be used as more than a blocker this weekend.