Part two of my Q&A with Rotoworld's Evan Silva delves into the outlooks for Steve Smith and Ray Rice from an NFL and fantasy football perspective. If you missed part one, we talked about the Ravens' moves to date in free agency.
* CSN: You have feet in both the NFL and fantasy football analyst camp. The Ravens made noise by signing Steve Smith. Though his numbers were down in 2013, his career totals are wow. What are you early thoughts about Smith as a fantasy threat in 2014?
Silva: Smith won't put up big stats in Gary Kubiak's run-foundation offense, but I think he will make an impact as a blocking-possession receiver. After he signed, Smith comparing himself to "Kevin Walter" in Kubiak's system was one of the humblest things I've ever heard a decorated professional athlete say.Walter spent five years with Kubiak in Houston, never clearing 60 receptions or reaching 900 yards. Add in Kubiak's offensive approach and Smith's fading skill set, and I don't think "89" makes much 2014 fantasy noise. I do believe he'll be an on-field asset for the Ravens. But Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith, and the running backs will be the primary ball handlers in Baltimore.
* CSN: At this point we don’t know the future with Ray Rice’s legal situation so need to go there. After a subpar 2013 season, where do you stand on Rice the NFL and fantasy player?
Silva: Rice has carried the ball 2,531 times over his last nine football seasons, including NFL playoffs and college. That's 198 more combined college and pro carries than Maurice Jones-Drew, who is two years older than Rice and who [eventually signed with the Oakland Raiders]. I'm not sure Rice is a great bet for a rebound year, but honestly don't expect to form a solid opinion on his 2014 fantasy outlook until I see Rice play in preseason games. I want to see his lateral quickness restored. Reports indicate Rice has shed 15 pounds since the end of last season. I think that's a step in the right direction. Another step in the right direction is Baltimore's aggressive upgrading of the offensive line.
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