Ravens fantasy question: Can McClain, McGahee or Rice be trusted?

Ravens' burning fantasy question:Can any of the team's running backs be trusted?

Trying to predict which Ravens running back to start or sit last season was both frustrating and utterly impossible for fantasy owners.

Ravens' top 5 fantasy players

  1. Le'Ron McClain
  1. Ravens defense

Sleeper: Rice

Chances are that the same will be true in 2009, as Le'Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and Ray Rice will again make up the three-headed monster that chewed up and swallowed the championship hopes and dreams of countless fantasy leaguers in 2008.

The Ravens have shed a little light on how the backfield situation will work, as McClain will be used as more of a traditional fullback this season. McClain, who rushed for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns in a tailback role in '08, seems destined to become the new Mike Alstott.

Not only will he be used in the obvious blocking role, but McClain will also see short-yardage carries and could steal touchdown chances near the goal line. So while he should get fewer than the 232 carries he had last season, McClain will remain prominent in this committee.

The great unknown is how McGahee and Rice fit in. Right now, it looks like Rice is the man atop the depth chart.

A former fantasy superstar, McGahee was one of last season's biggest disappointments last season. He missed a total of three games and was limited in several others due to injuries, one of which was an ankle ailment that required a surgical procedure in the offseason.

Overall, McGahee finished with just 671 rushing yards -- his lowest total at the NFL level.

Rice showed flashes of potential as a rookie and benefitted from working with the first-team offense while McGahee recovered from his ankle operation. In fact, he's been so impressive in training camp that coach John Harbaugh could decide to start him in Week 1.

As it stands, he figures to at least share the workload with McGahee and see time on passing downs. One thing is for sure -- Rice will see far more touches than he did in 2008.

If you're feeling confused with this headache of a ground game, well, don't feel bad. You'd probably need a crystal ball for clarity on the situation -- one that should be avoided if at all possible.

With carries spread out among the three backs, McClain and McGahee shouldn't be seen as more than potential flex starters. Even then, you're still rolling the dice. Rice, the lone back with upside in this trio, will come off the board in the middle rounds as a potential sleeper candidate.

Overall, though, it looks like Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will keep opposing defenses and fantasy leaguers alike guessing once again.

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