You’ve got to give John Elway credit, I suppose. He’s going to keep swinging until he finds his franchise quarterback. His latest attempt to recapture the glory of Peyton Manning’s first three seasons in Denver is the (future) acquisition of former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
The epicenter of the “Is he elite” joke/conversation is making his way to a Broncos team that was stewarded by Case Keenum last season and the combination of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch the year prior. Unsurprisingly, the Broncos offense wasn’t exactly, you know, good in that period of time.
Denver finished 19th in total yards and 24th in total points last season after finishing 17th and 27th in those categories, respectively, in 2017. Last year marked the third consecutive season that the Broncos failed to finish in the top half of league in yards and top 20 in points.
Tl;dr Flacco is walking into a bad offense. He should be used to it, though. Let’s compare those three years of Denver’s offense to Baltimore’s in terms of yards and points per game. Here’s how the Ravens stacked up:
2016: 17th in yards, 21st in points
2017: 27th in yards, 9th in points
2018 (weeks 1-9): 16th in yards, 16th in points
There’s a whole lot of mediocrity there.
While the move (pending the price of acquisition) is probably a worthy short-term risk for Elway, fantasy owners shouldn’t give this much more than a cursory glance. While Flacco will have more weapons to work with on the 2019 Broncos than the 2018 Ravens, his fantasy upside is still very limited. He’s had talented pass-catchers before like Steve Smith and Torrey Smith, but that hasn’t equated to him being anything more than a waiver wire option in standard leagues.
Here’s how Flacco has ranked among fantasy QBs on a points per game basis (minimum six games played) since 2012:
2018 (weeks 1-9): 23rd
That’s just brutal. He’s barely a QB2 in two-QB leagues and he’s maybe worth a bench spot in super-FLEX formats. It’s incredibly tough to envision him coming out of fantasy drafts on a roster in 10- or 12-team single-QB leagues.
In the interest of fairness, let’s look at some of the positives of him moving to Denver. Emmanuel Sanders is the best receiver Flacco has had in a few years and there is the potential to have an elite rushing attack with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. As teams stack the box to shut those two down, there will be more one-on-one opportunities on the outside for Flacco to exploit. Their play-action game should also get a boost. Denver also has the No. 10 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, although I’d guess they’d either trade back or grab defense there.
TD Fantasy’s full rankings will be out in a few months, but right now I have Flacco as my QB25 for the 2019 season. The average ADP of last year’s QB25 (Blake Bortles) was 184.0, which was either a last-round pick in 12-team leagues or undrafted. While there is slightly more upside for him in Denver than there would have been in an alternate universe where he’s the 2019 starter in Baltimore, there’s very little value in owning him in almost any format.