Joe Flacco: Sophomore Stud or QB to Avoid?

Joe Flacco became a darling of the league last season, bursting onto the scene as a first round draft choice equipped with a big-time arm.  It’s rare that a rookie quarterback can walk into the NFL and immediately guide his team to a winning record, yet alone the playoffs.  He accomplished that, starting all 16 games en route to an 11-5 record and a wildcard playoff birth.

Before we dub him a great fantasy option this season, we need to be cautious.  First off all, the Ravens clearly protected him in their game plans, limiting him to 428 attempts.  That placed him 19th in the league.

He only managed 2,971 yards and 14 TD.  His strength was managing the game, throwing just 12 interceptions and stepping up to make a play when the team needed it most.

It is obvious that the offense was focused around the running game, however, something that is likely to be repeated in 2009.  When you have Ray Rice (who I profiled recently, so click here to read), Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain, do you really blame them?

You also have to take into account the questions surrounding the men on the outside.

Derrick Mason?  Is he retired?  Well, it seemed like it, but he had a change of heart.  While he does have seven seasons of over 1,000 yards, he is now 35-years old and you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank.  As a number two-receiver maybe, but he enters the season as the top receiver for the Ravens.

Mark Clayton? We’ve all heard about the promise and talent, but only once has he posted a season of over 700 yards or score more than three touchdowns.  Until he proves he can do that, he’s going to be surrounded with question marks and shouldn’t be considered a reliable option.

After that, whom else do they have?

  • Kelley Washington (73 career receptions)
  • Demetrius Williams (55 career receptions)
  • Yorman Figures (2 career receptions)

I would be a lot more comfortable with Flacco if he had a big-time, dependable young wide receiver who he could just throw the ball up to and watch him make a play.  Couple that with the Ravens desire to focus on the run and it makes it tough to consider Flacco as a usable fantasy option this season outside of deeper two-quarterback formats.

Even in shallower formats, I’d lean against stashing him as my reserve QB.  While it’s possible that he could post a good week now and then, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to come in the week that you need him.

What do you think?  Is Flacco a QB you’d consider drafting?  How good do you think he’ll be this season?

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Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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