Fantasy Football 2013: Breaking Down Joe Flacco's Value for Next Season

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

Joe Flacco is lighting up opposing defenses this postseason.
Joe Flacco is lighting up opposing defenses this postseason.Al Bello/Getty Images

Joe Flacco has taken the NFL by storm this postseason, propelling the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl. How will this surge impact his fantasy football stock in 2013?

Fantasy gamers who gauged Flacco's fantasy value immediately after the season likely walked away unimpressed. He threw for 3,817 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, ranking 14th among quarterbacks under ESPN's scoring system. 

Had Baltimore missed the postseason or suffered an early exit, Flacco wouldn't sniff the top 10 in any 2013 rankings. Cracking the top 15 might have been iffy.

But then he took the league by storm, outplaying future stud Andrew Luck and future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on his way to the Super Bowl.

Most fantasy owners finished playing before Flacco caught fire, but that won't stop many from taking notice of his inspiring stretch and keeping it fresh in their mind during 2013 drafts.


Fluctuating Flacco

In those three games, Flacco compiled 853 passing yards with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Those few matches are enough to change the outlook of many fans who viewed him as just above-average prior to that run.

Let's not get carried away just yet.

Not that playoff games don't matter, but it's an awfully small sample size. Flacco played just as potently to kick off the season, tallying  913 passing yards and six touchdowns in Baltimore's opening three bouts.

That's when fantasy openers began to celebrate, believing they just snatched a stud quarterback at a major bargain. By the end of the season, Flacco's stats did not merit consideration as a trustworthy fantasy starter in most leagues.

Even if you believe that Flacco will transfer this momentum over into the 2013 season, there's still an assortment of other options at the position.


Stud Passers

Growing depth at quarterback works against Flacco. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brady and Peyton Manning are all studs that even the most delusional, caught-in-the-moment fans realize should rate well ahead of the Ravens' signal-caller.

Cam Newton may not be a money-in-the-bank choice yet, but his rushing ability makes him a top-five fantasy quarterback.

Matt Ryan just suffered another playoff loss, but does he really deserve the blame? Against one of the NFL's toughest defensive units, Ryan threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game. Is it his fault that Roddy White fell down?

Looking at the full picture, Ryan is still the better passer from the 2008 draft class. He outperformed Flacco by 902 passing yards and eight total touchdowns during the season. Unless Atlanta donates White and Julio Jones to Baltimore, Ryan is the better pick.

Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford are perceived as "chokers" who can't win when it counts, but that's of no consequence to fantasy owners. They put up numbers with the best of them.

Dominating toward the end of the season before a lackluster Week 17, Romo accumulated 4,903 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Despite his reputation, his 19 interceptions tied a career worst, so that number should decrease a tad next season.

How in the world did Stafford only manage to throw 20 touchdowns despite piling up 4,967 yards? Don't be surprised if his 2013 stats near his 2011 numbers. 


Young Phenoms

Then there's still all the young quarterbacks who posted historically good numbers early in their careers.

Robert Griffin III's unfortunate ACL tear puts his fantasy value in limbo. Don't make the mistake of assuming that everybody can follow in Peterson's footsteps and recover from the significant injury.

Luck and Russell Wilson, however, are healthy and ready to go next season. Although Luck did not impress in his first crack at the postseason, he sure shined during the first 16 games.

While Luck, who posted a 54.5 completion percentage and threw 18 interceptions, is not the most efficient quarterback, he will rack up the numbers. The Colts entrusted Luck with the offense immediately, allowing him to throw the ball 627 times.

He could realistically approach 5,000 passing yards in his sophomore campaign.

The end to Seattle's playoff run demonstrates the ridiculousness of letting a team's success influence a player's fantasy positioning. Wilson played a flawless second half in the Divisional Round and finished with 445 total yards and three touchdowns.

The Seahawks still lost.

The rookie amassed a 64.1 completion percentage and 100.0 quarterback rating, and he only improved as the season progressed. In Wilson's final eight regular season games, he threw 16 passing touchdowns and ran it in himself four times. 

Flacco's Super Bowl adversary, Colin Kaepernick, ran away with the starting job in San Francisco. The second-year quarterback rushed for 415 yards in 2012, but didn't capture the starting job until Week 11.

In a full season running the pistol offense, Kaepernick's dual-threat skills secures him a spot in the top 10.


Is Flacco Fantasy Elite?

Even if Flacco posts a career season in 2013, it might not be enough to grant him fantasy star status.

A Super Bowl victory does not ensure success the following season. After Eli Manning's first title, he tossed for 3,238 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, although he dropped his interception tally to 10.

After Manning's second championship that led to some calling him the best Manning, he threw for nearly 1,000 less yards in 2012 than in the previous season.

Recent play certainly establishes a high ceiling for Flacco. At his best, he's an amazing quarterback. Unfortunately, his best is not his normal state of operation.

His inconsistency will frustrate fantasy owners who don't possess an alternative to insert during tough matchups. Those who take Flacco should still do so in the middle rounds and pair him with another steady option. 

Because of that and all of the other talent at the position, even a Super Bowl title is not enough to lift Flacco into the top 10 quarterback rankings in 2013.


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