Joe Flacco throws more, produces less for fantasy than ever before
(“Today’s Crazy Fantasy Stat” is an occasional offseason offering from PFF that highlights something that catches our eye and aids in our preparation for the 2017 fantasy season.)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has never been a fantasy superstar. You and PFT Commenter can debate his eliteness as a real quarterback all day and night, but for fantasy, he’s never finished better than 10th among quarterbacks, and only above 13th once, in 2010. Generally speaking, if you’re rostering Flacco, you’re in a two-quarterback league, you’re dealing with a bye, or you’re just in real trouble.
Still, he’s relevant as a quarterback in a way that, say, Jared Goff or Nick Foles is not. Or at least, he used to be.
The last couple years have seen a different Joe Flacco than the one who never missed a game through his first seven seasons. That Flacco wasn’t the deepest of deep-ball throwers, but he recorded an average depth of target north of 9.0 yards. And that Flacco could throw it a fair amount, but he was never among the league leaders in dropbacks, averaging about 35.5 a game. He reliably hovered around the mid-teens in fantasy points, peaking at 10th in 2010 and never lower than 19th, in 2013.
The last two years, though, Flacco has thrown shorter passes (aDOT of 7.7 or 7.8 yards, among the bottom 10 QBs in the league in both seasons). And he drops back to throw way more often, almost 44 times a game the last two years. (Flacco’s 713 dropbacks in 2016 led the league, and were the second-highest total in the last 11 years, behind only Matthew Stafford’s 776 in 2012.)
The end result? Well, you’d think that a quarterback who is dropping back to throw that much more often would produce more for fantasy. But Flacco has had his two worst fantasy seasons the last two years, finishing 20th in total fantasy points in 2016 and 23rd in points per game in 2015 (accounting for his knee injury). He averaged 21 passing touchdowns a season his first seven years; he’s averaged 17 the last two.
The numbers — probably not coincidentally — coincide with Flacco being paired with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Trestman has since been fired, replaced by Marty Mornhinweg after Week 5 of last year, and while Mornhinweg has been associated with high-flying offenses in the past, Flacco’s aDOT actually went down after Mornhinweg took the reins last year, though his rate of dropbacks stayed roughly the same.
Once upon a time, if Joe Flacco was your fantasy quarterback, you weren’t excited, but you could make a go of it. These days, if Joe Flacco is your fantasy quarterback … well, good luck.