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Will Joe Flacco be a good fantasy quarterback in 2019?

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again. Fantasy Football season is upon us and millions of people who play are feverishly preparing for their drafts this month.

The strategy for fantasy GMs to follow this year is waiting as long as possible to draft a quarterback. The league is more pass-happy than ever before and thus, quarterbacks score fantasy points in droves. Most fantasy leagues still only allow one starting quarterback per week. With leagues averaging around eight to 12 GMs, that means most quarterbacks in the NFL are not starting on a regular basis.

You can use this to your advantage when drafting your team in 2019. While others are spending earlier picks on quarterbacks, you can wait and still get a quality starter to rely on from week to week. At the very least, you can wait on quarterback and get a couple of different options to rotate between based on matchups during the season.

Joe Flacco has a lot to prove this year in his first season starting for the Broncos. Denver wants to get back to their winning ways and need the offense to be much better than it has been during the last two years. Flacco is going to be leading the offense as they try to make a run for the postseason.

Is Flacco a good option for fantasy GMs in 2019? Let’s take a look.

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Health Risk

After two years of struggling with injuries, Flacco should be considered a health risk at this point of his career. A hip injury limited Flacco to just nine games in 2018 with the Ravens. The year before that, Flacco did play a full 16-game season, but a back injury prevented him from looking like his normal self.

Now, in his age-34 season, Flacco needs to first prove he can stay healthy before he gets to prove anything else about what he has left in the tank.

He is going to have to stay healthy behind a revamped offensive line. The Broncos spent money and draft capital this offseason to try and get things right in the trenches. Ja’Wuan James is the highest-paid right tackle in the league, so the Broncos want him to finally be the answer on that side of the offensive line. Dalton Risner was a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and his attitude, strength and style of play should be infectious for the rest of the group up front.

The new offensive line has to keep Flacco upright this year. He is not a scrambling quarterback, but instead is your classic pocket passer. That means the Broncos offensive line has to make him comfortable within the pocket. If Flacco is moved around too much, then he’s not as accurate or effective as a passer as he needs to be. Flacco is not getting drafted in most 12-team leagues at this point, but his recent health issues are only part of the reason why.

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Scangarello’s System

Flacco is going to be operating in the system of new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. It’s a system that Broncos fans are going to be familiar with, as both Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak ran a similar version of this offense.

In fact, Flacco himself is quite familiar with this system, as he played in it under Kubiak with the Ravens back in 2014. During that season, Flacco posted some of the best numbers of his career.

In 2014, Flacco passed for 3,986 yards and 27 touchdowns, while throwing only 12 interceptions. That season, Flacco finished as the No. 14 fantasy quarterback.

Since Flacco is currently going undrafted in most leagues, that makes him a great value if he does put in a top-15 season in 2019. In order for him to do that, Flacco is going to have to be comfortable with the players around him. He’s already comfortable with the system, but Flacco needs to trust the players he’s going to be distributing the ball to.

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Weapons Around Him

The Broncos have done a good job of upgrading the weapons on offense during the last couple of years. Flacco could be the final piece of the puzzle if he stays healthy this season.

Everyone knows that he loves throwing to tight ends and has a long history of peppering that position with a ton of targets. The last season that Flacco started 16 games (2017), he made then 37-year-old Ben Watson a 60-plus catch tight end. Having Flacco in place is one of the reasons why the Broncos elected to draft Iowa tight end Noah Fant in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Fant has a great size/speed combination and creates a mismatch every time he lines up on the field. He can get past linebackers with his speed and Fant is too big for safeties to cover. In the Hall of Fame Game, the Broncos first preseason game, we saw an intent to get Fant the ball early and often. Even though rookie tight ends historically struggle to make much of an impact, the Broncos might be force-feeding Fant the ball more than some think. Flacco is the perfect quarterback to do just that.

Flacco also has a propensity to lean on his veteran receivers more than others. Whether it was Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith or Mike Wallace, we have seen Flacco really target veteran receivers he can trust to be in the right spot.

That player for Flacco this year is Emmanuel Sanders. Still recovering from the Achilles’ injury that knocked him out last year, Sanders is ahead in the process and will get some work in the preseason game against the 49ers next Monday. Sanders knows how to get open with ease and still has the speed to be a threat after the catch. Flacco and this passing game just look better when Sanders is on the field, so hopefully he can stay healthy in what is likely his final season with the Broncos.

The other big weapon to look to in the receiving corps is second-year pro Courtland Sutton. We shall see if Sutton can be the No. 1 receiver for the Broncos in 2019. Sutton has great size and can take the top off of the defense regularly. After some early struggles in training camp, Sutton and Flacco seem to be on the same page most days. Sutton can sky and play “above the rim,” and Flacco has no hesitancy when it comes to throwing passes in windows high above defenders reach. If Flacco can work well with this group of weapons, his play and production might surprise Fantasy GMs this season.

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Summary

As aforementioned, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that this is the year to wait on quarterback. There’s basically Patrick Mahomes and everybody else at the position in 2019.

That strategy does not include Flacco.

Fantasy GMs can wait on quarterback and pick up players like Jimmy Garoppolo (QB19, 12.10) or Derek Carr (QB23, 14.07) in 12-team PPR leagues. If you’re waiting until after round 10 to take your quarterback, that allows you to load up on other talent at the running back, wide receiver and tight end position.

Flacco is going undrafted right now, but there is a chance in this system that he once again finishes as a top-15 fantasy quarterback. That makes him a player to keep on your waiver-wire speed dial. If he starts playing better than most expect, Flacco could be part of your strategy to pick up and rotate a quarterback on a week-to-week basis based on matchups.

Do not draft Flacco this year but monitor his progress for the Broncos in 2019.

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