Ray Rice Fantasy 2014
Baltimore Ravens new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak was quoted saying that his focus this season will be on the running game. “I think as he goes, we’ll go,” Kubiak said of RB Ray Rice in an interview with BaltimoreRavens.com.
Kubiak also said that he intends to install a two running back system. “I think in this league nowadays you need a couple of guys. It’s hard to hand it to one guy 30 times a game; they just get worn down. It’ll take both of them. They’re very talented and if we can get both of them going, the better we’ll be” Kubiak said.
Obviously this isn’t earth shattering news. A lot of what Gary Kubiak is saying is what the good people of Baltimore want to hear. In years past, the Ravens found themselves abandoning the running game and sputtering on drives with uneven or predictable play-calling. We are all very familiar with what Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff were able to accomplish with the Houston Texans over the last few seasons, but I’m not sold on him in Baltimore. Clearly change brings hope, yet simply saying that you’re going to run more doesn’t mean it will be successful. The Texans offensive line was a massive project that when completed not only helped open up lanes for Arian Foster to run through, but allowed their passing game to function with an extremely slow quarterback at the helm. While in Houston, Kubiak shared play calling duties with OC Rick Dennison, and it was rumored that Kubiak called the 4 minute, 2 minute, and red-zone plays while Dennison called much of the rest of the game outside of key situations. I’m guessing that the Ravens looked at Kubiak’s resume as a whole, as his play calling and team’s offense in 2013 were not only painfully predictable, but as unimaginative as possible.
If the Ravens want to establish a running game that is anywhere near what the Texans were running in years past, they are going to need to focus on their offensive line in free agency and through the draft.
If I asked you how old you think Ray Rice is -without quickly whipping out your smart phone- what would you say? 29? 30? The truth is the Ravens starting running back just celebrated his 27th birthday in January. Many fantasy owners (especially Dynasty owners) will hear news of a two back system in Baltimore next year and think Bernard Pierce immediately. Yet, if the off-season plans are in fact to rebuild the offensive line and focus on a running game that mirrors some of the great things that Kubiak did in Houston, Rice’s value should remain firm.
Bernard Pierce is not a world beater. He had his opportunity last season and didn’t really impress any fantasy owners. Pierce only managed 436 rushing yards in 2013 with a dreadful 2.9 yards per carry average. In fact, the 2012 third round pick out of Temple had only two games last season where he had more than 4.1 yards per carry. Obviously, Pierce could thrive in Kubiak’s new system, and we should never close the door on him having a strong season. But if you ask me, the Ravens will bring in another running back to challenge both RB’s. This is a deep draft class and the Ravens could use a late round pick on a player that could offer a change of pace.
At this current time, I’m “hands off” the Ravens running game. I need more than Kubiak and wishful thinking to convince me that things will change. The Ravens ranked 30th in the league last season averaging only 83.0 yards per game. What’s even scarier is that the team only punched in 7 rushing touchdowns all season. If the Ravens draft a Tackle in the first and/or second round and address their center position, I will move Ray Rice up my board. But in the meantime, Kubiak’s quotes are nothing more than lip service to the media.