Ricky a Raven

By Zack Cimini


It’s always hard to tell what you’re going to get from a veteran signing a short term deal. A new location, reduced role, and a body that has taken a toll over the years. Down in Miami, the case of building forward with veteran running backs likely went on a year too long. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams gave the Dolphins solid years, but neither was a capable every down back a year ago. It ultimately put more pressure on Chad Henne, who wasn’t ready for the heightened role.

Miami did the right thing this off-season, by letting both Brown and Williams go as free agents. Both went to teams that are hoping to be right on the door steps of a possible Super Bowl run. Will Ricky Williams be a guy that can contribute as a complement to Ray Rice?

First think of the back that Ricky Williams is stepping in to replace. That would be Willis McGahee. McGahee also endured a solid tenure as a Raven. For all the times the Ravens thought about cutting or trading him, he brought toughness to the field each and every week. He became a battering back, that was as reliable as any as a short yardage plunge type back. He racked up enough touchdowns that many fantasy owners believed reduced Ray Rice’s value by a few spots.

Remember Williams has played the second back role for many years now. He is a 34 year old back, with the legs of a 30 year old in running back years. That is if you factor in the time he missed with suspensions and injuries. When he came back as a Dolphin, he split carries with Ronnie Brown. When Brown went down in 2009, Williams showed that he still can be counted on for a sixteen game season. Rushing for 1000 yards for the first time since 2003.

Williams is a guy though that has had issues in the past. Will a new environment affect his psyche? Possibly. Going to a team that is already veteran laden should help though. He also should feel pressure free. Ray Rice is going to garner a ton of carries and Williams will likely get the least amount of carries he has ever had in a full season.

Is he worth drafting as a fantasy back? Any backup running back is worth drafting just for insurance purposes. Handcuffing a first round pick such as Ray Rice could be the difference in you missing out of the playoffs. Williams likely won’t be a fantasy factor for 2/3 of the games he plays in this season. But an injury or a game in which the Ravens are blowing out an opponent could produce those four to five games that Williams is fantasy relevant. So yes, take Williams late as your fifth back if you can.


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