Aug 7, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce (30) gets tackled by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Nick Moody (54) in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football 2014: Baltimore Ravens RB Rundown

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Few people have drawn more attention this preseason than Ravens’ RB Ray Rice.  While everyone has strong opinions on Rice’s off the field issues, fantasy owners may find predicting his on-the-field production just as convoluted to figure out headed into drafts.

The Ravens running backs should be in a good place to perform and put up solid numbers in Gary Kubiak’s offense.  This is the same offense that created the Broncos rushers in the last 90’s and early 2000’s before taking over in Houston and giving fantasy owners the Texans rush-heavy attack the last few seasons.  While it didn’t end well in Houston, Kubiak’s offensive system seems to be the perfect fit for the Ravens personnel and should result in both of the Ravens’ running backs being fantasy relevant.

Here is my look at the Ravens backfield as we continue our RB Rundowns.  The rankings included are from my top 80 RB which came out last week and which will be updated later this week.

25

Bernard Pierce

RB, Baltimore Ravens

I’m ready to make the move. I have Pierce ranked higher than Ray Rice, and would much rather have the third-year back out of Temple going into the season.  Pierce has had a strong preseason and is a better fit for Kubiak’s stretch running style.  Right now, he seems to be about even with Ray Rice, but with Rice’s suspension he’ll get a clean first crack at the starting lineup and I don’t think he’ll ever give it back. Compared to many rankings, this is an extremely high spot for Pierce, but I’m buying in.  He’s a very nice RB3 or flex play although there is the risk that Kubiak will go with Rice or that the timeshare could sap some of Pierce’s value. I see him as a high-risk RB3 who you can add if you’re other RB options are fairly low to medium-risk options.
32

Ray Rice

RB, Baltimore Ravens

If you draft Rice, you know you’re getting nothing the first two weeks, but do you really know what to expect after that? Already, he’s banged up with a shoulder injury and is coming off a really rough season last year.  He has looked much better when he’s played this preseason and in practices, so I do think he will be a fantasy factor this season when he returns.  If you can get him as your fourth back, he could be a great pickup if he earns his way back into the rotation starting week three. He has an great rapport with QB Joe Flacco and is involved in the passing game, so he’ll be an option in PPR leagues as a flex play at least.  Don’t completely jump ship on Rice, but I think he’ll give up too many goal line opportunities and non-passing down carries to Pierce to be a regular starter. I’m not saying he’s done for good, but neither is he someone you can count on any longer on a weekly basis.
NR

Lorenzo Taliaferro

RB, Baltimore Ravens

Taliaferro has looked good in his work with the backups in preseason, and if Rice or Pierce go down injured he could get some significant time.  Taliaferro is a name to know in case of injury or for deep dynasty leagues, but his role is still too undefined to take him as a flier in anything but the ultimate deepest of leagues (or if you plan on using his name as part of your fantasy team moniker–one of my favorites for Ravens’ fans is “Can’t see the Forsett for the Taliaferro”).
NR

Justin Forsett

RB, Baltimore Ravens

Forsett is familiar with Kubiak’s running game from his time in Houston two seasons ago when he rushed for 375 yards on 63 carries behind Ben Tate and Arian Foster.  Last year, Forsett played nine games with the Jaguars but only ran the ball six times for a total of 31 yards.  While Rice is suspended, Forsett is expected to be the change-of-pace option for Bernard Pierce, but his longterm fantasy upside is virtually non-existent barring injury to Rice or Pierce.

This post is part of a series detailing the backfield situation for each NFL team from a fantasy football perspective. Check out my top 80 rankings and click here for the full series.

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Tags: 2014 Fantasy Football Baltimore Ravens Bernard Pierce Fantasy Football Preview Fantasy Football RB Justin Forsett Lorenzon Taliaferro Ray Rice RB Rankings RB Rundown

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