Looking ahead to the 2013 NFL season, Matt Vensel over the next few days will break down the five Ravens players worth drafting in your fantasy league and when you should draft them. Though they are worth picking up, he did not include the Baltimore D/ST or kicker Justin Tucker because they should go in the final two rounds.
Only once in Joe Flacco’s first five seasons in the NFL has the quarterback ranked among the top 10 players at his position in total fantasy points scored, according to NFL.com’s scoring, and that came in 2010 when Flacco barely edged out New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning for 10th on the list. So that means if you started Flacco in years past, you probably had one of the lowest-scoring starting quarterbacks in your fantasy league.
That could change this season, though, if the Ravens continue to open up their passing attack with Flacco.
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Flacco is coming off an impressive postseason in which he tied Joe Montana’s NFL record with 11 touchdown passes and was named the Super Bowl MVP. That could be a breakthrough moment for a 28-year-old who has a reputation of winning a lot of games during the regular season while producing inconsistent individual performances from week to week.
There is reason to believe that while he may still drive you mad with some single-digit scoring weeks, Flacco will be better this season and could crack the top eight quarterbacks in points. Finally, fantasy players’ faith in Flacco will be rewarded.
2012 STATS: 3,817 pass yards, 25 TDs (22 passing and three rushing), 14 turnovers (10 interceptions and four fumbles lost).
2012 FANTASY RANKING: 14th among quarterbacks in scoring with 234.88 points, based on NFL.com’s standard scoring.
THE SKINNY: In the seven games, including playoffs, after Cam Cameron was replaced by Jim Caldwell, Flacco threw 15 touchdown passes and just one interception. Flacco added a Lombardi Trophy to his stellar resume and got paid by the team this past offseason, but he still has to prove he can be consistent throughout the course of a 16-game regular season and put up the kind of numbers to get invited to a Pro Bowl. With Caldwell back calling the plays and little roster turnover on offense, Flacco appears poised to take that next step in 2013.
BURNING QUESTION: I think I know what you are thinking. But what about Anquan Boldin? The big question for the offense entering camp is how the Ravens will replace Boldin, Flacco’s favorite target over the past three seasons. Flacco usually looked Boldin’s way in the clutch, but overall, Boldin never topped 1,000 yards in any of his three seasons here. The loss will sting, but the Ravens hope they will get more production from Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta, along with greater contributions from guys like Ed Dickson and Tandon Doss.
WHEN TO PICK HIM: Flacco is not an elite fantasy option -- think studs like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady -- and he might not be as productive as second-tier guys like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. But if he picks up where he left off in the playoffs, he could be a mid-round steal that outscores fellow quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. Based on ESPN live draft results, Flacco is 15th among quarterbacks with an average draft position of 113.8, which is either the ninth or 11th round, depending on whether you are in a 12-team league or a 10-team league. I would not pick him before the eighth round, but if you are waiting to take a QB, picking Flacco might pay off. Finally.