2013 Fantasy Football Face-Off: Joe Flacco vs. Eli Manning

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Joe Flacco and Eli Manning are, as NFL fans surely know, the last two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks as well as the last two Super Bowl MVPs. Both are among the best signal callers in the league right now, but is one a better option than the other for fantasy football owners this year? Let’s take a closer look, then I’ll make my choice.

The Case For Joe Flacco

Flacco threw for a career-high 3,817 yards during the 2012 regular season, and carried that momentum right into the postseason by averaging 285 passing yards per game while throwing 11 touchdowns (without an interception) in leading the Baltimore Ravens to a win in Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens made a notable move by trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason, but that leaves them with third-year man Torrey Smith and not much else in terms of proven options at the position. Postseason hero Jacoby Jones is expected to move into a starting role, but he has never had more than 51 receptions or topped 600 receiving yards through his first six seasons and his career-high for touchdown catches is six.

Baltimore still has one of league’s best running backs in Ray Rice, who will remain a valuable weapon for Flacco as a pass catcher, and backup Bernard Pierce proved capable when given the opportunity last year. Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson give the Ravens some nice depth at that position, and both could see an expanded role this year.

The Case For Eli Manning

After he threw for a career-best 4,933 yards in 2011, Manning’s production looked sure to drop-off some last season. But he failed to top 4,000 yards through the air for the first time since 2008 (3,948) and his passing touchdown total continued a slow decline (26) after peaking at 31 in 2010.

The Giants are deep with skill position talent, most notably at wide receiver (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle) and running back (David Wilson, Andre Brown), and Manning is one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league with 135 consecutive regular season starts. Tight end Martellus Bennett signed with the Chicago Bears in free agency, but Brandon Myers is coming off a solid season with the Oakland Raiders (79 receptions) and should be a capable replacement.

Final Analysis

Flacco and Manning do not belong in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks this year, but each can be considered a low-end QB1 or a high-end QB2 in 12-team leagues. Choosing between the two comes down to upside relative to draft position, which is driven at least in part by the depth of talent that surrounds them, so that makes Manning my clear choice here.

Manning’s 2011 yardage total looks like a clear outlier at this point, but he has at least 26 touchdown passes in each of the last four seasons. On the other hand Flacco has only reached 25 touchdown passes in a season once in his career (2010), and on the heels of his performance last postseason there’s a good chance he will be drafted before he should be in a lot of fantasy leagues.

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


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