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Pitta re-signs with Ravens, boosts fantasy football outlook

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The Ravens and TE Dennis Pitta agreed to a 5-year, $32 million contract on Friday. Pitta was set to hit the free-agent market on March 11, but the new deal keeps him in Baltimore through the 2018 season. It also improves his fantasy football outlook in 2014 and beyond.

Pitta isn’t an elite talent. He doesn’t have Jimmy Graham’s imposing size or Vernon Davis’ insane speed. But he runs good routes and possesses reliable hands. More importantly, he has an excellent rapport with QB Joe Flacco.

That’s what makes Pitta’s new deal with the Ravens a good move for his fantasy value. He’s not the type of player who would dominate regardless of supporting cast – like Graham or Davis. But we know Pitta can produce in Baltimore. He’s just a couple years removed from a 669-yard, 7-TD 2012 season. Pitta finished 7th among TEs in fantasy points that year.

His 2013 campaign was crushed by a dislocated hip suffered in training camp. He didn’t make his debut until Week 14. Pitta tallied 20 catches, 169 yards and 1 TD over the season’s final 4 weeks.

It’s worth noting, though, that his 20 catches during that span led the team. Back in 2012, Pitta’s 61 receptions ranked behind only WR Anquan Boldin. The TE hauled in 66% of his targets that year – well above Boldin’s 58% or WR Torrey Smith’s 45%. A healthy Pitta has been a significant and efficient part of Baltimore’s passing attack the past 2 years. And there’s no reason to believe that won’t be the case again in 2014.

In fact, the addition of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak could make Pitta an even bigger part of the offense. Kubiak has an impressive track record with TEs. Shannon Sharpe set career highs in yards (1,107 in 1997) and TDs (10 in 1996 and 1998) in Kubiak’s offense in Denver. Kubiak also helped TEs Dwayne Carswell, Desmond Clark and Jeb Putzier produce top 12 fantasy seasons with the Broncos.

More recently as head coach of the Texans, Kubiak oversaw top 8 fantasy seasons from Owen Daniels in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Daniels and fellow TE Garrett Graham combined for 73 catches, 797 yards and 8 TDs this past year.

Kubiak hasn’t been shy about his plans for Pitta.

“I remember studying Dennis, and I’m very impressed with him as a player," Kubiak said shortly after joining Baltimore’s coaching staff. "I know he went through a tough year this year with getting injured, but that position has always been a big part of our offense. I’m sure it won’t be any different.”

So Pitta will be working in a TE-friendly offense with a QB who trusts him to get the job done. All the pieces are in place for him to be a major fantasy football asset both short and long term.

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