2013 Outlook: Rice has reached a stage in his career where fantasy owners look at him and say, "Yeah, but what else can you do for me?" Ho hum, all he does is produce 1,600-plus yards from scrimmage and double-digit TDs every year with one of the NFL's best combinations of speed, power and elusiveness. Sure, he had some playoff fumbling problems on Baltimore's magic Super Bowl run, but he's bailed out the Ravens too many times to count, including that memorable 4th-and-29 dump-off last season against the Chargers, where he basically avoided San Diego's entire defense. Rice will continue to star in '13, though his capable understudy, Bernard Pierce, will probably siphon off 100-ish carries to keep the bell-cow healthy.
2013 Outlook: With Anquan Boldin gone, Smith is in a good situation in Baltimore. What stops us from liking him more is the fact that he's been such an up-and-down WR. Last year, he scored five fantasy points or fewer in eight games, while hitting double digits six times. Maybe that roller coaster occurred because Smith mostly ran higher-risk routes, and maybe his production will normalize now that he's a clear No. 1. Or maybe Joe Flacco is simply the streakiest QB known to mankind, and by definition Smith will struggle to consistently help his fantasy teams.
2013 Outlook: Remember way back at the '12 combine, when Pierce set off red flags by only benching 17 reps? Seems silly now, doesn't it? It's hard to believe anyone was ever worried about this guy's strength. The burly Pierce did a fine job spelling Ray Rice as last season went on, and really shone in the playoffs with some explosive runs. Rice is still only 26 and never misses time because of injury, so we're not overselling Pierce's fantasy attractiveness. He'll mostly be a change-of-pace guy. But he's also among the NFL's most valuable backups, and is a must-handcuff for Rice's owners.
2013 Outlook: Despite his Super Bowl win, Flacco is an easy whipping boy. He's never been a top-10 fantasy QB. He's never eclipsed 25 passing TDs or come close to 4,000 yards. And on tape, you've seen him look unbeatable one series and clueless the next. But it's fair to wonder if a new era is coming for Flacco and the entire Ravens offense, out from under the incompetent thumb of former coordinator Cam Cameron. In six meaningful games without Cameron last year, Flacco averaged 283 yards passing and slung 15 TDs and 1 INT. Now, maybe that's an Eli-esque bout of unconsciousness which will fade. But maybe Flacco's giant arm and aggressive offensive mindset have taken a permanent step forward. He's not your fantasy starter, but he's intriguing.
2013 Outlook: Not only did Tucker post a sweet fantasy season as a rookie in '12; he also erased painful memories of Billy Cundiff's '11 playoff shank-a-roo that potentially cost the Ravens a Super Bowl berth. In his own signature playoff moment, Tucker sent Baltimore into the AFC Championship with a 47-yard make in overtime against the Broncos. There's little reason to believe the Ravens offense will regress this season, meaning attempts should be plentiful once again for Tucker. His big leg and the ice water in his veins make him a no-brainer fantasy starter.
2013 Outlook: Last May, the Texans released Jones, a perennial fantasy bust. Within a week, the Ravens had signed him to a two-year, $7 million deal that seemed way above the going rate. Sure enough, Jones caught only 30 passes during the regular season. But he was stellar on kickoff returns and made two huge plays in Baltimore's Super Bowl run, and now he looks like the logical inheritor of the departed Anquan Boldin's role. But beware of trusting Jones too much; he's cratered in enticing situations before, and there are plenty of young, hungry options on the depth chart hoping to get fed.
2013 Outlook: Ray Lewis? Gone. Paul Kruger? Gone. Ed Reed? Gone. Dannell Ellerbe? Gone. Bernard Pollard? Gone. After essentially the entire Ravens defense said, "Peace out," what's left is a work in progress. Adding Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty and rookie Arthur Brown to the front seven looks pretty smart, signing Michael Huff as Reed's free safety replacement could work, and getting Lardarius Webb back as their top corner is crucial. This is what GM Ozzie Newsome does. Every year folks think the Ravens D is finally cooked. And every year it's pretty good. That's where we stand on them for '13: They'll be pretty good.
2013 Outlook: Clark latched on with the Ravens in August after Dennis Pitta suffered a season-ending hip injury. He'll team with Ed Dickson to try to replace Pitta and the departed Anquan Boldin, but we're not optimistic about his chances. While it's true he's familiar with Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell from their days together with the Colts, Clark looked tapped out last year in Tampa, averaging a career-low 9.3 yards per catch. It would take a few weeks of consistent production for us to be excited about adding Clark.
2013 Outlook: Dennis Pitta suffered a dislocated hip early in this summer's training camp and is out for the 2013 season, meaning the Ravens have a big vacancy at the TE position. But apparently the Ravens don't believe Dickson is ready to inherit their "move" role, because they signed Dallas Clark. That probably means Dickson will do what he did in 2013: block. It also doesn't help that he suffered a hamstring injury in training camp that was serious enough to keep him out of the entire preseason.
2013 Outlook: Given the enormity of Joe Flacco's new contract and the fact that he just won the Ravens a Super Bowl, Thomas won't see the field much in '13 if everything goes according to plan. But what if Flacco should get hurt? Taylor might not quite have Flacco's arm strength but he definitely can zip it, and he's significantly more mobile than the lead-footed starter. Where he'd potentially run into trouble is with his throwing accuracy. He became a better passer during his senior season at Virginia Tech, but that's a long way from making crisp and seasoned NFL throws.