After being grossly outplayed by the Houston Texans in Week 7, the Baltimore Ravens have now had an extra week to prepare for their division rivals, the Cleveland Browns. That bodes well for the Ravens considering the Pittsburgh Steelers look like they have turned the corner and will again be in a dogfight with the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North. On the downside of the division, it's the same old story for the Browns who will spend the rest of the year just trying to stay out of the basement. That said, this game will still have its share of fantasy players to watch in Week 9.
Most of the offense in this one will come from the running back position, as Ray Rice and Trent Richardson are both the catalysts on their respective teams. Richardson showed no ill effects of rib injury in Week 8 as he managed to rush for 122 yards on 24 carries including a touchdown. Although he has been limited in practice all week there is no question he'll play on Sunday and carry a heavy workload in support of rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. From the Ravens' standpoint, this may be the week that Ray Rice gets even more involved in the offense as it seems that his quarterback Joe Flacco can't get over the hump and prove that he is truly an elite quarterback, at least not this season. Rice only managed nine carries in Week 7, but since the Browns offense doesn't possess the firepower of the Houston Texans, Rice should be good for close to 30 total touches this week.
Speaking of the aforementioned Flacco, he's as inconsistent as a fantasy pivot can be. He has not thrown more than one touchdown in a game since Week 3 against the New England Patriots and is averaging only 189 yards through the air in his last three starts. That said, the Browns currently have the 25th ranked pass defense in the league, which leaves some room for a solid outing, something Flacco is probably due for. Right alongside Flacco in the inconsistency department would be the Browns' Brandon Weeden, although we should expect nothing less of a rookie. Weeden completed just 11 passes in the team's 7-6 win over the San Diego Chargers last week, which is the lowest number of completions in a game he has had in his young career thus far. Keeping that in mind, the former Oklahoma State standout has one of his two career 300+ yard passing games against the Ravens in Week 4 and given that he'll no doubt be playing from behind for most of the afternoon, he should be in line for a good fantasy showing based on sheer volume.
In terms of pass catchers at the wide receiver position, the Ravens' Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin can only go as far as Joe Flacco's arm will take them and the two wideouts have both had their shotcomings this season. Boldin is still a favorite target of Flacco's and has put up steady yard totals for the most part, but he has not scored a touchdown since the first week of the season. As for Smith, he has not had more than 41 receiving yards in a game since playing the Browns five weeks ago. Josh Gordon has been the lone bright spot in the Browns' receiving corp. this season with touchdowns in three straight games before being held out of the endzone against the Chargers last week.
Finally, look out for the Raven's defense in this one as they look to round back into form after giving up 43 points to the Texans two weeks ago. It looks like Dannel Ellerbe will be able to hold his own filling in for Hall of Famer Ray Lewis after he managed 12 tackles in his first start replacing Lewis. A shaky quarterback for the Browns and an angry Ravens defense could be quite the fantasy recipe in Week 9.
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