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Go West Young Man: Flacco To Denver

One of the foregone conclusions of this offseason was the exit of Joe Flacco from Baltimore. Last season the Ravens traded back into the 1st round in order to draft Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick. From the moment Jackson’s draft card was turned in to the commissioner we knew that the Joe Flacco era in Baltimore was on life support. Throughout his tenure in the Charm City Flacco has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. In recent years his play has been marred by injury from his back to his hip to his knee. Following yet another injury this past season to his hip Jackson was inserted into the starting lineup and never relinquished the job. Since Flacco had already lost his job last year the trade will have zero effect on the Ravens fantasy wise. Let us take a look at how this trade effects Flacco and his new team.

The obvious winner of the trade is Joe Flacco himself. There are only 32 starting QB jobs in the NFL and Flacco has apparently nailed down one of them after losing his gig in the city where he made his name and won his ring. Over the years Joe has put up average to slightly above average numbers year in and year out. Joe has always had a cannon for an arm throwing one of the prettiest deep balls in the entire NFL. His stats below highlight his consistent play.

In Denver Joe will enjoy some of the best talent at the WR position he has played with in quite some time. Courtland Sutton will be the most talented young WR Flacco has ever had the pleasure of throwing to. Prior to this trade the best young receiver Baltimore ever paired with Joe was Torrey Smith. Sutton will likely soak up many of the intermediate targets once showered upon the likes of Dennis Pitta and Anquon Boldin. Sutton’s strong hands and big frame might be just what the doctor ordered to jumpstart Flacco’s career. Joe has shown throughout his career the guts and confidence to put the ball up and allow his playmakers to make plays. This willingness to give players a chance on the ball will fit in quite nicely with Sutton and his skill set.

The second WR spot on the Denver squad will likely come down to health. If he is able to make a full recovery in time for the start of the season, I fully expect Emmanuel Sanders to man the opposite side of the field from Courtland Sutton and potentially garner the most targets on the team. Sanders has some similar traits to former Flacco BFF Steve Smith in his route running, toughness, and willingness to run routes all over the field. Prior to the accusation of Flacco it seemed possible that Denver might part ways with Sanders in order to embrace the youth movement. It now seems likely that if healthy Emmanuel will be allowed to once again fulfill the veteran leadership role he occupied last season following the trade of DT. However, if health remains an issue for Sanders the bulk of his role will likely go to DaeSean Hamilton. The all-time leader in receptions at Penn State University showed well down the stretch last year following the Achilles injury to Emmanuel Sanders. Hamilton does not possess the same type of field stretching speed as Sanders but does know how to find the open holes in Zone Schemes and is an efficient route runner with the ability to separate with technique.

Denver is currently devoid of a truly fantasy relevant TE which will be a situation to monitor as the offseason progresses. Over the course of his career Joe Flacco has shown a penitent for peppering his TE with targets. From Todd Heap to Dennis Pitta the new Denver QB has used the TE position as an outlet early and often in games. If Denver somehow manages to pair Joe with a quality addition to the TE room I will be most interested.

The RB room will likely be awash with the addition of Joe. Both he and Case Keenum have used their backs as outlets and I do not see a large change coming for this position as a result of the impending trade. The main thing Flacco will bring with him to Denver is experience. He is a proven veteran who has shown the ability to take a team to the pinnacle of the league. Joe has a great arm and a decade of experience upon which to draw in leading his new squad. It remains to be seen if these traits will translate to wins on the field. Denver does not boast the best O-line in the league and Joe is far less mobile than the man he will replace as the starter in Denver. John Elway is likely hoping for lighting to strike twice and for Joe to provide a similar effect on the Broncos as the last Super Bowl MVP he traded for. In the end the biggest change for fantasy purposes will be felt in Super Flex leagues where Flacco will again be a viable starting option as a quality QB2.

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