Our weekly look at the Ravens' matchup from a fantasy football perspective...
Decent stats out of Torrey Smith last week (5-78) against the Browns - at least for those using the burner as a WR3. Those expecting top 20 production have been left wanting over the last three weeks. Smith hasn't topped 80 yards in that span and still has just one touchdown on the season. In theory, Sunday's matchup against a Bengals secondary without stud corner Leon Hall provides breakout potential for the ex-Terp. Then again, Cincinnati hasn't allowed a touchdown to a wide receiver over the last two games.
Still, it's always tough sitting the playmaker, so don't do that unless you have other top 20 options. As for Marlon Brown, he remains touchdown dependant, but he's managed to stay fantasy relevant. Considering the Bengals secondary woes, Brown's a WR3 candidate, but a risky one.
Rotoworld's Evan Silva on a certain Ravens lead back who isn't leading fantasy owners to wins: If Ray Rice fantasy owners can still sell him on name value, doing so now would probably be their best option. A Baltimore run-blocking group that lost LG Kelechi Osemele to year-ending back surgery isn't going to get better. And it appears Rice's early-season hip injury wasn't solely to blame for his shortage of pre-bye production. He struggled yet again coming off the Week 8 open date, managing 17 yards on 11 carries in last Sunday's loss to the Browns. It's crystal clear on tape that Rice's running ability is evaporating. He has very little chance to be a stretch-run fantasy difference maker. He's just a flex option against Cincinnati's top-ten run defense." The key point is "name value." Don't trade Rice for another RB if that other back isn't at least a consistent RB2.
As for Bernard Pierce, look for the Ravens to work the second-year runner into more action over the remainder of the season - especially if the losses keep piling up. That doesn't mean owners should use him against the Bengals, but keeping him on the roster in 12-team or deeper leagues is fine.
There is simply no reason to tout using Joe Flacco, who has 10 touchdown passes with nine interceptions, in any leagues others those that use two quarterbacks. The Super Bowl MVP hasn't thrown for more than two touchdown passes in any game this season and topped 300 yards just twice. The Bengals have injury issues, but allowed only 384 passing yards over the last two games. Historically Flacco has both hot and cold streaks. We're still waiting for the former. Maybe this is the week, maybe.
The defense and the kicker
Two straight weeks without an interception and just one in four games for Baltimore. The weekly fantasy numbers have been average to poor since Week 3. For most of the season, defenses have been just eh against Cincinnati, though the Dolphins dominated last week with five sacks, three interceptions and a score. Considering the game is in Baltimore and the Ravens are essentially in must-win mode, it's safe to use Terrell Suggs and company as a low-end D/ST1. As for kicker Justin Tucker, he's booted 14 consecutive field goals, but attempted just five over the last three weeks. Better bet he produces starter numbers than any other fantasy option on the roster.
On the other side...
Tight end Jermaine Gresham missed Friday's practice with a groin injury. All season he and Tyler Eifert have cancelled each other out, but no Greshman would boost Eifert into top-15 TE range. Baltimore has allowed a tight end to score in two straight games and three of four.
In addition to CSNwashington duties covering the Wizards, Hoyas and the college basketball scene, Ben writes about and ranks fantasy football players for FFToolbox.com, rated the most accurate site for the 2012 season.