Our weekly look at the Ravens' matchup from a fantasy football perspective...
Welcome back, Dennis Pitta. For the first time all season, the Ravens had a viable threat at the tight end position last week and look what happened. Even playing on a limited snap count, Pitta had six receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. By comparison, Dallas Clark had at least six receptions in only game this season. Now Pitta faces a Lions defense allowing the sixth most receptions to TEs. Yeah, that sounds like a low-end TE1 to me.
In case you haven't heard, the Lions are not very good defending the pass anywhere on the field. Wide receivers have roasted Detroit's secondary, scoring at least two touchdowns in five the last seven games. The only exceptions came last week in a massive snowstorm and on Thanksgiving Day versus an overmatched Matt Flynn. In other words, Torrey Smith looks like a top 15 WR play in Week 15. Still not sure what happened last week versus the Vikings, but Smith's been rather consistent all season.
Despite the juicy Monday night matchup, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones remain no more than risk-reward options for those in deeper leagues. Gut feeling says Brown scores, but we're in the fantasy playoffs so such gut calls only apply when desperate.
Do not believe for one second that LeSean McCoy running all over the Lions in the snow last weeks means Ray Rice will do the same in a dome. Philadelphia's backs finished with 286 yards. In its previous seven games, Detroit allowed only 289 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Rice has topped 70 rush yards once since Week 5. Expect enough touches and receptions for the duel threat to cobble out enough production to avoid total disaster. We're just far too long into the season to believe Rice can be much more than a back who can avoid total disaster.
Do we think it's a coincidence that Joe Flacco's first three-TD came when he had finally had a full complement of passing game options? Eh, probably not even if lots of the scoring during those the frantic finish against the Vikings. As for Week 15, this looks like another matchup where the game plan leans heavily on the quarterback. The problem is that Flacco's overall body of work keeps him out of QB1 consideration for most. In addition, the Lions defense recorded 11 sacks in their last two games not played in snow. They have also allowed 17 TDP in their last eight games. Flacco has a puncher's chance for glory if the fantasy gods have knocked out your other options.
The defense and the kicker
Typically the Ravens veer into must start territory. This week, let's say they're in the worthy of consideration range. Primary obstacle is that the Lions have allowed just 15 sacks in 14 games while Baltimore's pass rushers have none in its last two games. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been loose with the ball of late, throwing 10 interceptions in his last six games, but he's hardly a weak passer. Don't run away from the Ravens especially since Jacoby Jones is always a threat to run a kickoff back, but only view them as a D12-15 this week. ...Justin Tucker has made 27 straight field goals and is playing this week in a dome. Start him.
On the other side...
For thoughts on Reggie Bush, we turn to Rotoworld's Evan Silva: "A vicious Philadelphia snowstorm torpedoed Detroit's passing offense in Week 14, but the Lions return home to their dome for fantasy semifinals week at full strength or close to it. After last Sunday's pre-game setback with his calf strain, Reggie is on track to start against Baltimore's No. 8 run defense. Although the matchup is difficult on paper, Bush has gained 428 yards on his last 82 rushing attempts (5.22 YPC) and registered 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in seven of his 11 appearances this season. He'll be an RB1 if he starts. If Bush suffers another calf injury recurrence, Joique Bell will be a plug-and-play RB2."
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.