Player Round Table (Joe Flacco)
By FBG Staff; Hosted by Maurile Tremblay
August 11th, 2010

Here at Footballguys.com, we have Spotlights and Faceoffs. Those features are fairly comprehensive, but they are limited to viewpoints from either one or two writers. Well some players need a little more commentary. We have decided open up the dialog and asked our staff to leave their thoughts on these players and what is expected from them in 2010. Here, discussion centers around QB Joe Flacco.

Mark Wimer: Joe Flacco enters his third NFL season a rising NFL star, sporting an offense that has been revamped with talented targets during the offseason. All the new additions should help Flacco take that next step in his development as a pro QB - Flacco completed almost two-thirds of his passes last year (315/499 for 3,613 yards, 21 TDs and 12 interceptions). And he did so throwing to Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington as his #2 and #3 WRs.

The Ravens' highest-profile acquisition this year was wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who should step into the #1 wide receiver role. Aided by skilled possession receiver Derrick Mason and deep threat Donte Stallworth at the #2 and #3 wide receiver positions, with the talented Todd Heap and Ray Rice threatening the opposition on short and intermediate routes, Boldin is in a position to thrive as defenses won't be able to blanket him with coverage. During 2009, Clayton and Washington each caught only 34 passes from Flacco to tie for #2 among Raven wide receivers. I do not expect to see similarly modest numbers from the trio of Boldin, Mason and Stallworth.

If the integration of Boldin and Stallworth into the offense goes smoothly, I think that Flacco is indeed one of the guys who could break into the top 12 at his position this year. He's young and has a good arm, and now has the experience to use all the new weapons handed to him this offseason. He seems a super-solid fantasy QB2 to me, with QB1 upside. As the 11th QB off the board, on average, he is going pretty much where he should be.

Sigmund Bloom: There are just too many QBs in the 10-15 range with a higher ceiling or higher floor than Flacco to take him at the aspirational ADP of QB11.

Flacco had ten games with 0-1 passing TDs, and eight games with <200 passing yards last year. In other words, he was a pedestrian-to-poor fantasy QB more than half the time last season. His solid year-end numbers mask the fact that he beat on tomato cans like Kansas City and Chicago, and piled it on versus Minnesota in garbage time.

Flacco's decision-making seemed to slip as the season went on, and taking the reins off of him certainly can't be deemed a complete success, so talk about the Ravens becoming more pass-happy this year needs to tempered with the reality of Flacco's limited success reading and attacking defenses.

Cam Cameron's offenses have always been RB-centric, and the presence of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee shouldn't change that this year, even if the addition of Anquan Boldin will encourage them to become more balanced.

Matthew Stafford offers the same high ceiling three rounds later. Matt Ryan and Eli Manning are available a few picks before Flacco with a demonstrated higher ceiling and a much higher floor. Kevin Kolb and Jay Cutler are available between 5-12 picks earlier than Flacco and have a much better chance of posting elite numbers this season. It's very difficult to imagine a scenario where Flacco is the best QB pick at his current ADP.

Jeff Pasquino: I'm a big Flacco fan, but the fantasy reality is that the Ravens do not need to throw a ton this season. They have a strong ground game with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and the division got worse, not better, since last year. Anquan Boldin is an improvement, sure, but the wide receivers after Derrick Mason were abysmal last year. I don't see Flacco getting many chances for 300-yard or 3-touchdown games this year.

Anthony Borbely: I am really not getting the love for Flacco.

Ray Rice has become the focal point of the offense. He averaged 12 carries per game in the first six games and 18 per game thereafter. Rice's gain in rush attempts was Flacco's loss in pass attempts. He averaged 37 attempts in the first six games, but just 27 in the last ten. The Ravens clearly want Rice to be the focal point of the offense, and that also fits Cam Cameron's offensive philosophy.

Cam Cameron's offense is not geared to big passing numbers. He has had only one QB ever throw 25 TD passes and has never had one throw for 3,700 yards. He coached stud QBs Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. They are much better QBs than Flacco, much more accurate, and if Cameron didn't unleash them, I can't imagine him letting Flacco air it out. I think the change the Ravens made last year after week six was about getting back to Ravens football, and Cameron's offense fits that.

Flacco could put up numbers near his ADP of QB11, but the offense limits his chances. I simply do not think he will throw the ball enough to risk drafting as a borderline QB1. I think a ranking in the mid QB2 tier is more like it. Despite the addition of Boldin, I'm not seeing the upside that some do. I see Flacco averaging close to the 27 attempted passes he did in the last 10 games and that will not be enough to justify his current ADP.

Jeff Haseley: Tony, you bring up some excellent points, but I think you're underestimating the changes that will stem from the Anquan Boldin trade. If Cameron wants to go with a smash-mouth approach, why would he trade for Anquan Boldin? Flacco started off strong last year, being mentioned with the upper echelon of QBs in the first six weeks of the season. He had 11 TD passes and three 300-yard games at that point! Then the bye week came, the schedule got tougher, and the Ravens really focused on the running game led by Ray Rice. As a result, the passing game took a back seat. History has proven that good QBs tend to get better when they acquire a veteran WR of Anquan Boldin's caliber. We've seen it with Tom Brady and Randy Moss, Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, and Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress. Flacco has shown that he can be a dominant QB statistically. Perhaps the addition of a proven veteran WR will enhance the passing game and lead Flacco to the next tier of QBs? Defenses will be aiming to stop Rice and now they'll have to contend with Boldin in addition to Derrick Mason. I think he's more than capable of eclipsing 3,600 yards and 25 TDs. Surprises happen in the NFL every year, especially at QB. We saw a glimpse of what he can do in the early part of 2009. Don't be surprised if he takes the next step and emerges as a go-to fantasy QB in 2010.

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