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. Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead and four rookie pass-catchers were added to refresh Flacco's receiving cupboard, which should help at least a little bit. 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 middle of two-quarterback league drafts but won't be selected in typical leagues that only start one gunslinger.
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.
Flacco completed 29 of 38 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns during Saturday's 23-16 win over the Colts. With Baltimore nursing a three-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Flacco sold the play fake and found tight end Maxx Williams in the flat for a four-yard score. The final stat line might not look like much, but it amounted to Flacco's best performance of the season from a quarterback-rating perspective. After running mostly cold earlier in the season, Flacco has been solid during the Ravens' last six games, of which Baltimore has won five. Flacco has tossed eight touchdowns to just two picks in that span, but takes on a Cincinnati team to close that season that gave him fits in Week 1.
Flacco completed 26 of 42 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown, adding four carries for three yards and another score, in Sunday's 27-10 win over the Browns. Flacco's three best passing yardage totals of the season have all occurred the past three weeks, a stretch in which he's also produced three of his five multi-touchdown games this season. The Ravens finally seem to have find a reasonable balance between taking shots downfield and settling for checkdowns, though the recent outburst admittedly has coincided with a favorable stretch of matchups. Flacco gets another soft opponent in a Week 16 home game against the Colts, albeit with the possibility of weather impacting the game.
Flacco completed 20 of 35 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and one interception during Sunday's 39-38 loss to the Steelers. After tossing a pick on the opening drive, Flacco bounced back in a big way by leading the Ravens to six scoring drives against one of the league's best defenses. He was most impressive in the third quarter when he, with his team initially down three points, orchestrated three of such drives to lift his team to an 11-point advantage to start the final quarter of play. However, the wheels fell off thereafter as the Steelers forced punts on two of the next four possessions with Flacco's final chance to win the game ending after he fumbled out of bounds with time expiring. Up next for him and the rest of the Ravens is a Week 15 matchup with the Browns, where Flacco is only a recommended fantasy option in two-quarterback settings.
|* 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|