Fantasy football preview: Falcons vs. Ravens

J. Meric

The Falcons and Ravens, two of the NFL's final four teams of the 2012 season, will square-off in preseason on Thursday night. We break down the fantasy implications.

The Ravens and Falcons bring lots of firepower on offense, much to the delight of fantasy football owners everywhere. But each team made a few changes on their offenses that got them to the championship rounds of the playoffs a season ago, and we will see a few of these new pieces in action on Thursday night.

More: For more on the Falcons and Ravens, check out The Falcoholic and Baltimore Beatdown

The Ravens have had a busy offseason in wake of injuries to tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, and they countered those losses this week by signing veterans Brandon Stokely and Dallas Clark. Jacoby Jones has not had a particularly impressive camp thus far, and the likes of Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson and Tommy Streeter needed a boost in receiving competition. Stokely will see the field in a limited role Thursday night, though Clark is considered a long-shot to play. Prior to his injury, Pitta was a consensus top-five fantasy tight end, so it will be interesting to see what kind of role Clark will have once he is ready to take the field.

Meanwhile, running back Bernard Pierce continues to build off of a strong close to the 2012 season and may take a few more snaps from Ray Rice out of the Ravens backfield than he did a season ago. If wear and tear finally catch up with Rice, and force him to miss time, Pierce could explode in terms of fantasy production. His preseason action is worth monitoring, though he may not have a large role in Thursday's game due to recently sustaining a minor knee injury.

For the Falcons, Steven Jackson has shined all summer long, boasting a burst and versatility in the receiving game that Michael Turner lacked toward the end of his tenure. Jackson is at a point in his career where the Falcons won't waste snaps on him in the preseason, so don't expect many more than the nine snaps he saw in his Falcons preseason debut.

That will once again open the door for guys like Jacquizz Rodgers, who did not contribute much in the run game, but gained 15 yards on a reception. That seems to be on par with what fantasy owners can expect from Rodgers if anything should happen to Jackson, as improvements must be shown in the running game to warrant consideration of anything more than a fringe flex player in deep PPR leagues.

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2013 fantasy football TE rankings

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