Fantasy Fodder: When should you draft Ravens players?

The great Baltimore earthquake of 2011 has come and gone, and now that we have been allowed back in the building on Calvert Street, I can get back to writing about important things. Like your fantasy football team.

The NFL lockout altered the fantasy football schedule for many owners. The glossy publications they sell at the supermarket are pretty much worthless because they went to print before free agency. It's hard to get a read on the new faces because they didn't have organized team workouts to get acclimated with their new places. And I don't know about you, but all my fantasy drafts will be conducted later than usual this year.


Ravens fans, I have come to your rescue. I know you want to pick some of the guys in purple for your team -- heck, in my auction league, I somehow wound up with Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Billy Cundiff -- but the key is making sure you don't reach for them. Here's when you should draft each of your favorite Ravens:

QB Joe Flacco: 10th round. Flacco's average draft position in ESPN fantasy leagues is 90.8, making him on average the 13th quarterback on the board. I had him ranked as my No. 15 quarterback because I believe the Ravens when they say that they plan on running the ball more often. If you want Flacco to be your starter, that's fine. Just wait until at least the eighth round to make sure you get good value.

RB Ray Rice: Top-five pick. For the second straight year, I see Rice as a top-five pick. He had a productive 2010 season, but he didn't live up to that billing. I think he will this year. I liked what I saw from Rice and the running game against the Chiefs. More importantly, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain aren't around to vulture carries at the goal line. Rice can get it done from inside the five if the Ravens let him.

RB Ricky Williams: 13th round. If you landed Rice in the first round, you'll want to handcuff him with Williams, who will be valuable insurance for both your team and the Ravens should Rice get injured.

WR Anquan Boldin: Fifth round. In ESPN leagues, he is typically going in the fifth or sixth round, which is about right. I'm confident he and Flacco will get on the same page. If they do, he's a solid No. 2 WR.

WR Lee Evans: 12th round. I love the addition of Evans to the Ravens offense, but his impact isn't likely to translate to individual numbers for Evans. I see him catching around 50 passes for 800 yards and six or seven touchdowns. He will help Flacco, Rice and Boldin more than he'll help your fantasy team.

TE Ed Dickson and TE Dennis Pitta: Undrafted. We don't know which of these two players will emerge as the Ravens' top tight end, so play the waiting game and pluck the winner off waivers if you want.

K Billy Cundiff: 15th round. Cundiff was the sixth-ranked kicker in my season preview, but you shouldn't take a kicker before the final round. If you really want him, take him in the penultimate round.

Ravens D/ST: 11th round. The Ravens' average draft position is 82.9, which I'm guessing is higher than it should be because of auto-picking. The Ravens will be more aggressive under defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, which should mean more sacks and turnovers in 2011. Fantasy owners know that's a good thing.

Matt Vensel is a blogger and community coordinator for The Baltimore Sun. Send your fantasy questions and comments to Matt.Vensel@baltsun.com, @mattvensel on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun