In what escalated very quickly today, TMZ released video of the elevator confrontation between Ray Rice and his now-wife Janay Palmer. What the video depicts is Ray Rice striking Palmer viciously, which causes her to fall head-first into a handrail in an elevator, knocking her unconscious. After seeing this video, the Baltimore Ravens and NFL moved quickly to enact a much stiffer and deserved punishment for Rice than they previously had. Hours ago, the Ravens terminated Ray Rice despite the big cap hits he has for the next two seasons (4.5 million this season and 9.5 milion in 2015). The NFL has also announced that Ray Rice has been suspended “indefinitely”, which basically locks up his chances of playing this season for any team and puts his long-term football playing career in jeopardy.
I want to quickly state my personal opinion on this before moving on to the fantasy football implications. From the start, even as a fantasy writer, I knew and felt that a 2 game suspension for Rice was a slap in the face to anybody with common sense and anyone who has had to deal with domestic violence in their lives. If that were to happen in another occupation, that person would be fired on the spot. 2 games was an utter disgrace and only more proof that Roger Goodell had no idea what he was doing when it comes to acting as a disciplinarian. When comparing the 2 game suspension Rice received for domestic violence to the season-long ban Josh Gordon received for various marijuana infractions, it just didn’t add up. I have been an advocate for Josh Gordon, saying that while his suspension is unfair, he did violate the rules several times. Perhaps an 8 game suspension (or he gets reinstated immediately with reports of new drug policy agreement in the works) would be better suited for what he did, but Ray Rice deserved a much bigger punishment than 1/8 of the NFL regular season. Finally, justice is being served and I am applauding the commissioner and everyone in charge of the punishment. It should’ve been a bigger suspension from the start, but better late than never, right?
Now, moving on to what this means in the fantasy football world. With the release of Rice, the only 3 notable runners in Baltimore are Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett. As I predicted on last Tuesday night’s edition of The Fantasy Forecaster, Bernard Pierce was not worth starting yesterday. He rushed 6 times for 14 yards and lost a fumble. He was then quickly benched for Justin Forsett, who rushed 11 times for 70 yards and a score while catching 5 passes. Forsett is the no-brainer grab since he is the likely starter on Thursday in their game against the Steelers. This also moves Taliaferro into 12 team consideration as their #3 halfback, which means he will get a few touches in the coming week and is probably the most talented runner in this committee.
Given the keys to the RB job, Pierce crashed and burned. Moving forward, I think Bernard Pierce will be on a short leash with Forsett and Taliaferro breathing down his neck for touches. So for this week, Justin Forsett is my #1 waiver wire claim and needs to be owned in all leagues as he will be facing a Steelers D/ST that gave up 183 rushing yards to the Browns yesterday. I view Forsett as high-end RB3/FLEX playsthis week. Taliaferro is a handcuff to both of their RB and should be added in deeper leagues as he could matter as the season progresses. Baltimore loves to run the ball and their gameplan won’t change despite Ray Rice being released, so continue to look for Pierce, Forsett and occasionally Taliaferro to be toting the rock in the short-term.
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Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!