Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos can pile on the misery for a Baltimore Ravens team that has lost two straight.
The Broncos are riding high, thanks to an offense Manning has quickly turned into a precision-based, big-play unit. Defensively, the Broncos can rely on stud hybrid rush linebacker Von Miller to dominate offenses.
The Ravens recently fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and have promoted Jim Caldwell to the role. Caldwell coached the Colts for three seasons from 2009-11, helping Manning and company reach a Super Bowl.
Here is a prediction of the top three fantasy performers to from this game, including the Ravens' best offensive player.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
In order to get the Ravens offense on track, Caldwell must find ways to get the ball into the hands of Ray Rice. The diminutive, multi-purpose running back is a natural playmaker who can cause Denver's defense plenty of trouble.
Establishing Rice can keep a dangerous pass rush, led by Miller and Elvis Dumervil, away from struggling quarterback Joe Flacco.
Rice is averaging 4.6 yards every time he carries the ball. He can find success against a Broncos defensive front built to apply pressure to the passer.
Denver's defense is fourth in the league and sixth against the run. However, that last stat is a little misleading. A lot of teams have been forced to play catch up against the Manning-led offense and therefore haven't kept the ball on the ground for long.
Emerging from the restraints of Cameron's offense will motivate Rice. Expect him to tally 100-110 yards, including a rushing touchdown.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
If one quarterback is going to put up big fantasy numbers in this game, it won't be Flacco. The smart money should be on Manning dissecting a suspect Ravens pass defense, that ranks 23rd in the NFL.
Losing their best corner, Lardarius Webb for the season hasn't has helped. Nor has the absence of Terrell Suggs.
That dual loss has left the Ravens without a shutdown corner, or a premier pass-rusher. Expect Manning to ruthlessly exploit these flaws.
He has thrown 30 touchdowns this season and enters this game after a 310-yard performance against the Oakland Raiders in Week 14. The Ravens spent last Sunday allowing 268 yards and two touchdowns through the air against the Washington Redskins.
Expect Manning to post 285-300 yards and throw for a pair of scores.
Joel Dreessen, TE, Denver Broncos
A recipient of one of those touchdowns could well be tight end Joel Dreessen. He is a good sleeper fantasy pick from this game.
Manning often looks the former Houston Texans man's way in the red zone. Dreessen has five touchdown catches to his credit already this season.
Without star inside linebacker Ray Lewis in the line-up, the Ravens have struggled to cover tight ends. Expect Dreessen to make a couple of big plays over the middle and also snare a touchdown.
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