Fantasy Football 2013: Can Joe Flacco Become A Top Tier Quarterback?

By Brad Berreman
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had an excellent postseason, culminating in earning MVP honors as the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXLVII. Despite technically being able to become a free agent, all indications are he will be back with Baltimore in 2013 and likely for many years beyond that.

From a fantasy football angle, Flacco has at the very least been durable, starting all 80 regular season games in his five NFL seasons. He also set a career-high in passing yards with 3,817 in 2012 while also throwing at least 20 touchdown passes for the fourth straight season. As an added bonus, Flacco also rushed for three touchdowns this past season to further bolster his fantasy value.

It’s easy to overrate players based on their performance on big stages and Flacco will have that bullseye on him when fantasy drafts get going for 2013. Can he elevate himself into the upper echelon of fantasy quarterbacks next season?

Flacco’s career high passing yardage total in 2012 is fairly impressive, especially when you consider he hardly played (4-for-8 for 34 yards) in Week 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals, when the Ravens rested most of their regulars. But he had just four games with multiple touchdown passes over the first 13 games of the season and was fairly inconsistent in terms of yardage, with five games with at least 299 passing yards and six games with less than 200 yards through the air over that span.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired with three games to go in the regular season and the change to Jim Caldwell did Flacco a lot of good. In two full regular season games with Caldwell as offensive coordinator, Week 15 against the Denver Broncos and Week 16 against the New York Giants, Flacco averaged 281.5 passing yards per game with four passing touchdowns and just one interception. Add that to Flacco’s postseason performance, when he averaged 285 passing yards per game with 11 combined passing touchdowns and zero interceptions, and fantasy football owners have reason to expect big things in 2013.

Flacco simply does not throw the ball enough–and rightfully so with running back Ray Rice in place–to put up the kind of numbers that elite fantasy quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and some others do. But I do think he belongs in the second tier of fantasy quarterbacks heading into next season, along with players like Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler. It can be argued Flacco is a safer option than Cutler, Rivers and Stafford in particular, due to his durability and the fact he has yet to throw more than 12 interceptions in a season.

Fantasy owners need to be careful when drafting Flacco next summer as his price in drafts and auctions has surely gone up now. But he is worth consideration as a low-end QB1 or high-end QB2 for those who choose to devote higher draft picks or more auction dollars to other positions.

Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.

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