Over the past handful of seasons, there have been few quarterbacks that have been more polarizing to fantasy football players than Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The 32-year-old University of Delaware product has been the focal point of an internet meme debating whether or not he’s an elite quarterback since he won a Super Bowl back in 2013.
Interestingly enough, Flacco was once the league’s highest-paid quarterback after his Super Bowl winning performance. The Raven’s signal caller has displayed an ability to elevate his performances significantly in the playoffs, which is partly why he commanded such a large contract. In the 2012 and 2014 postseasons, he combined to post a 5-1 record while throwing 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Despite Flacco’s uncanny postseason success, he’s never been a fantastic quarterback for fantasy football purposes. His high watermark for season-long performance came in 2010 when he finished as the 11th highest scoring quarterback. In the last three seasons that he played a full 16 game schedule, the former Blue Hen had finishes of 19th, 13th, and 20th. Unless he significantly turns things around with a career year, he’s not worth spending a roster spot on in 2017.
Last season should have been a goldmine for Flacco’s fantasy backers – under Offensive Coordinators Marc Trestman and Marty Mornhinweg the Ravens led the entire league in passing attempts. However, despite throwing the ball a whopping 679 times, Flacco finished the year with just 4,317 passing yards coupled with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Despite the huge amount of passes, he finished behind Ben Roethlisberger’s 14 game season and Carson Palmer’s mediocre campaign.
All signs point to Flacco continuing to regress. He’s almost certainly going to throw the ball significantly less this season, which means he would have to magically become extremely efficient almost overnight to put up huge numbers. There’s plenty of data to suggest this won’t happen.
The New Jersey native’s QBR was 19th best in the league last season, just narrowly edging out players like Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Colin Kaepernick. Over the past five years, his QBR has topped the 60 mark just once. Some of his low ratings can be blamed on the fact that he has a penchant for throwing interceptions, having passed the double-digit mark in INTs in every season since entering the league.
Joe Flacco Career Stats
Perhaps more alarming is his averages, which include yards per attempt, adjusted yards gained per attempt, and yards per catch. All three of these categories have regressed significantly from where they were just two seasons ago. Flacco’s yards per completion dropped over a yard in the past two seasons alone.
If he was only able to finish 20th in fantasy points among quarterbacks when he threw the most passes in the league, there is no way we can trust him to put up numbers this season when the Ravens will clearly look to be a more balanced team.
Flacco simply isn’t worth taking a flier on as a matchup dependent or bye week fill in. Even if you need a quarterback for just one week, I’d steer clear of the Baltimore signal caller. The 32-year-old had just three games last season where he scored over 20 fantasy points and he ended up with single-digit points on two separate occasions. He only threw for multiple touchdowns five times last season and topped the three touchdown mark twice. The upside just isn’t there.
Adding further fuel to the proverbial fire is the fact that Flacco will be without his two most targeted players from last season in 2017. Steve Smith, who was targeted over eight times a game during his three-year stint with the Ravens, retired this off-season. Tight end Dennis Pitta, who himself was targeted 121 times last season, suffered a third serious hip injury and is a longshot to ever lace up his cleats again.
Flacco gained one key weapon in the offseason when they signed wideout Jeremy Maclin who was cut by the Chiefs a few weeks ago. Maclin seems likely to be used in the slot, which is the role that Smith occupied before retiring. Prior to his disappointing last season which was plagued by a groin injury, the Missouri native rattled off back-to-back 1000 yard seasons, catching 18 touchdowns in the process. If Maclin can stay healthy and build a rapport with Flacco, which is a tall ask, he may be able to shoulder some of the responsibilities that Smith and Pitta had in the passing game. However, the rest of the Ravens receiving corps must pitch in too. It’s going to be hard to invest in a player that will be relying on Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman to produce in order to put up big fantasy numbers at the quarterback position.
My final verdict is that Flacco just isn’t worth a roster spot unless you’re in a 2-QB league. The Baltimore quarterback has questionable upside having never finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. He ranked 27th in the league in yards per attempt last season and lost his two best weapons from last season. If you’re interested in taking a low-risk flier late in your draft, be my guest, but I’ll be steering clear of Flacco myself this season.