Ray Rice was a college football darling, helping bring a rather obscure Rutgers football program into the national spotlight. In 2006, his sophomore season, he rushed for an astounding 1,794 yards and 20 TD shattering the Scarlet Knights previous single season record (1,353 yards by J.J. Jennings in 1973).
Drafted in the second round in 2008, he had a strong rookie season despite not sitting atop the depth chart. He started four games (appearing in 13) getting 107 carries for 454 yards and 0 TD. That was good for a respectable 4.2 yards per carry, bringing hope for what he could do with regular touches.
He adds a lot with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, picking up 33 receptions for 273 yards last season. That ability certainly helps boost his value, especially in PPR leagues.
He has already been named the Ravens’ starter heading into the 2009 campaign, which should allow him to pile up the yards and become a useful back, though his value may not be as high as it potentially could be. According to Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun (click here for the article), the Ravens have run the ball seven times inside the 5-yard line this preseason. The only time Rice was handed the ball was on a statue of liberty play. Five of the other six carries have gone to Willis McGahee (the other went to Le’Ron McClain).
If he’s going to have to break a big run in order to score, his value is going to be limited.
Of course, the presence of McGahee and McClain (who is transitioning back to fullback this season) is going to limit his value somewhat to begin with, but not entirely. The team will likely continue to limit the exposure of Joe Flacco, so there should be plenty of carries to go around. They were the fourth best rushing team in the league last season, at 148.5 yards/game, something that should not change.
The Ravens carried the ball 592 times in 2008. While that number may be reduced slightly this season, it would be surprising if they didn’t hand the ball off at least 550 times. That would mean plenty of opportunity for all three of the Ravens backs to succeed.
As for what I think he’ll do this season:
Rushing – 915 yards, 5 TD
Receiving – 48 receptions, 395 yards, 3 TD
Overall, that would be a solid season for Rice, who is currently carrying an ADP of 54.84, the 26th running back coming off the board. As my third RB, I certainly would not shy away from him, especially if he slips into the sixth round. Put him around the same level of Knowshown Moreno & Chris Wells at this point (to see where I have them ranked in my latest RB rankings, click here), meaning he is a perfect buy as your #3 RB, especially in PPR formats.
What do you think of Rice? Are my projections close? How do you think he’ll perform?
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