Fantasy Football: Joe Flacco

      August 27, 2012 @ 17:47:20 PDT

Fantasy football drafters aren't going wacko for Joe Flacco as we approach the 2012 regular season. I'm not at all surprised, based off his slight regression last season (career-worst 57.6 completion percentage). He threw only 20 touchdowns and was picked 12 times, but most were expecting Flacco to emerge as a stud slinger in his fourth pro season.

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco
I'm wacko for some Flacco

Have we seen enough from Flacco to pigeonhole the Delaware product as just an average quarterback in the NFL? Most are willing to put him in the category of the middle-tier QBs, but I'm not ready to give up on him. Not yet…

He looked exceptional and in midseason form in the preseason game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. We already knew Flacco had the arm strength to sling the pigskin down the field with the best of them, but he impressed me with some nice touch passes at mid to short range over the middle and on the outside.

Flacco has plenty of weapons. Ray Rice is one of the most talented all-around backs in the league, and sophomore Torrey Smith looks like he's ready to break out as a home run threat. Anquan Boldin provides the passing attack with a veteran presence. The combination of tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta give Flacco excellent red zone targets.

Many automatically assume that the Ravens' D is the dominant unit that they've been in past seasons, but they're not anymore. Terrell Suggs (torn Achilles' tendon) will miss at least half of the season, if not all, and defensive captains Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have lost a step in their old age. Questions surrounding a pass rush will make this unit very beatable. As a result, Flacco and the O will have to do more to win football games, unlike in the past when game management and avoiding turnovers would win them games.

Head coach John Harbaugh and the rest of his coaching staff will be mindful of staying balanced on offense, but don't be surprised to see them open it up more. Keep in mind Flacco attempted a career-high 542 passes last season. His previous high was 499. He isn't a developing young QB anymore, and Harbaugh knows this. They trust him more.

Flacco hasn't been what you'd call a reliable QB for fantasy production, but he hasn't missed a single start in four years. That has to count for something.

Also, he's in the last year of his current contract, and he said he will honor the contract and play out this season before considering an extension. How many times have we seen players in contract years put up career years? Yeah, quite often. I'm telling you, he looked like a man on a mission last week, and that was the preseason.

I'm high on Flacco this year, but don't get me wrong, I'm not drafting him as a bonafide No. 1 this year. All I'm saying is I think he has a great chance to put up midrange No. 1 numbers most weeks, and you can easily snag him in double-digit rounds of 12-team leagues - as your backup.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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