The Ravens hope Joe Flacco starts this season the way he finished last season. Anything's better than how he started last season when he missed training camp with a back issue and threw nine touchdowns in his first 11 games. He came alive in Week 13 and finished the season with nine more scores in his final five, notching 20-plus Fantasy points in four of them. Despite the hot finish, Flacco will be as popular as icicles in Reykjavík because he's just not considered an explosive, productive Fantasy quarterback. The Ravens may have admitted as much when they traded into Round 1 and drafted Lamar Jackson. Word out of minicamp was that Jackson could be featured in two-quarterback sets, potentially sneaking pass attempts away from Flacco. The bottom line is that there are so many great quarterbacks to pick from in Fantasy this year, and Flacco isn't one of them. He'll get picked toward the end of two-quarterback league drafts but won't be selected in typical leagues that only start one gunslinger.
Flacco expects to play in Thursday's preseason contest against the Rams, freelance NFL writer Jeff Zrebiec reports. Flacco isn't slated to play much throughout the preseason as the Ravens' clear-cut No. 1 QB, but he expects to be deployed for one or two drives against the Rams on Thursday. His likely limited participation in Thursday's tilt should allow for Robert Griffin, rookie Lamar Jackson and Josh Woodrum to split time leading the offense.
Flacco won't play in Thursday's Hall of Fame Game against the Bears, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic Baltimore reports. Flacco has reportedly been excellent through the first two weeks of training camp, perhaps drawing motivation from his team's decision to draft Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round in April. A new group of wide receivers also seems to be helping, with Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead replacing Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Campanaro. While he may eventually find his job in danger, Flacco is locked in as the Week 1 starter and doesn't figure to get a ton of playing time this preseason. Jackson, Robert Griffin and Josh Woodrum will handle the quarterback reps during Thursday's exhibition in Canton.
Flacco has shown improved mobility during the opening days of training camp, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports. "It looks like he's moving and grooving better than he has in several years," said Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. While never much of a rushing threat, Flacco at least displayed passable athleticism for most of his career prior to suffering a torn ACL in November 2015. He wore a brace on his left knee the past two seasons, but the bigger issue in 2017 was a back injury that held him out for the entire preseason and seemed to bother him into the regular season. Flacco did average 253 passing yards and two TDs per game in December, finally looking healthy as the Ravens came up just short of a wild-card spot. It was enough to lock him in as the Week 1 starter for another season, but not enough to prevent the team from selecting Lamar Jackson at No. 32 overall in April's draft. While he'll likely be limited to occasional snaps in special packages to begin his career, the Heisman winner could get a look as the starter if Flacco struggles or the Ravens fail to compete for the playoffs. The 33-year-old quarterback saw his pass-catching corps undergo a complete makeover in the offseason, with Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead, Hayden Hurst (undisclosed) and Mark Andrews replacing Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Campanaro and Ben Watson.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said first-round selection Lamar Jackson will have "a chance to develop" while learning behind Flacco. Baltimore's decision to trade up for Jackson leaves Flacco on shaky ground for the future, though it probably won't threaten his status as the Week 1 starter for 2018. He's coming off back-to-back seasons averaging less than 6.5 yards per pass attempt, and he has non-guaranteed base salaries of $18.5 million for 2019 and $20.25 million for 2020, per OverTheCap. Harbaugh hinted that the Ravens plan to roll with Flacco as their starter for at least one more year, but the offseason additions of Jackson and Robert Griffin suggest the 33-year-old will have a shorter leash than he did in the past. Baltimore has prioritized pass-catching talent this offseason, signing wideouts John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead, then drafting tight end Hayden Hurst at No. 25 overall. The offensive line remains concerning, with apparent holes at center and right tackle.
With Flacco healthy and boasting a couple new weapons, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is counting on "exponential" growth from the team's passing attack in 2018, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports. Harbaugh's expectation seems overly optimistic, as it isn't entirely clear that the team's new wideout duo of Michael Crabtree and John Brown will be an upgrade over the 2017 combination of Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin. The Ravens will likely add more talent at wideout and tight end before Week 1, having already shown interest in restricted free agents Willie Snead and Cameron Meredith. Flacco started all 16 games last year, but it did seem that a back injury from the summer impacted him early in the campaign. He sat out all of training camp and the preseason, and then threw for less than 250 yards each of his first eight games. Flacco did improve toward the end of the season, accounting for 10 touchdowns over the final five weeks while averaging 253.2 passing yards. A normal, healthy offseason would help him build trust with Crabtree and Brown, as well as any other receivers the Ravens might acquire before training camp.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/21||New Orleans Saints||18||19.06|
|14||12/09||@Kansas City Chiefs||25||20.41|
|15||12/16||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||14||18.56|
|16||12/23||@Los Angeles Chargers||3||14.50|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||64.4||3416||17||13||45||2||241|