Rapid React: Joe Flacco Traded to Broncos (Fantasy Football)
In yet another shocking move in the NFL, long-time Ravens QB and former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will be traded to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a fourth-round pick. The deal can be finalized after the new NFL season begins on March 13. The move comes as a surprise, especially after the Broncos signed Case Keenum to a two-year deal in 2018. Keenum will now be shopped and most likely cut if a trade partner can’t be found. The Broncos have had very little success at the QB position since Peyton Manning retired, and they’ve trotted out the likes of Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, and Brock Osweiler in recent years. Flacco, set to make $18.5 million in 2019, will be the next QB to try his luck in Denver.
The Flacco trade comes on the heels of the Browns’ signing of Kareem Hunt in what’s shaping up to be an eventful NFL offseason. Flacco’s trade to the Broncos will impact other players and teams in the NFL and in fantasy football. Let’s take a look at a few players who may be impacted by this move from a fantasy standpoint.
Joe Flacco (QB – DEN)
After the Ravens’ Super Bowl victory way back in 2013, Flacco’s play has noticeably declined. From 2013 – 2018, he played 83 games, going 42-41. He averaged just 3,435.3 passing yards, 18 TDs, and 13 INTs per season for those years, averaging an awful 6.5 yards per attempt. The Ravens didn’t do much to help him out in the way of pass-catchers and running backs over the last six seasons, but Flacco’s play has been bad regardless. Could a fresh start on a new team be what the 34-year-old QB needs to revive his career? Unlikely. The Broncos hired defensive-minded coach Vic Fangio to be the team’s new head coach, and it looks like the Broncos want to focus on defense and running the ball. The tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for 1,558 yards last season, and Denver still sports a formidable defense. Flacco had success in Baltimore using that same formula, and he is still 6’6/245 with a rocket arm — a marked improvement over Keenum at least in that way. Despite the new locale and the Broncos probable game plan in 2019, Flacco won’t be a recommended fantasy play. He’s just another signal-caller stepping through the revolving doors in Denver until John Elway can finally find a franchise star.
Case Keenum (QB – DEN?)
Keenum was signed to a two-year deal by the Broncos in 2018 after a career-year in Minnesota, leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship game. In his first season with Denver, Keenum unsurprisingly fell back to earth with 3,890 passing yards, 18 TDs, and 15 INTs. The Broncos finished with a 6-10 record, bringing Keenum’s career record to 26-28 in 54 starts. He won’t be in Mile High this upcoming season, but Keenum should have no problem finding work as a reliable backup. His 2019 outlook wasn’t very positive had he remained Denver’s starter, and now he may not throw a pass at all.
Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL)
Flacco’s trade cements the Lamar Jackson era in Baltimore. He led all QBs in rushing yards, despite only starting seven games. While his passing skills are still a bit raw, Jackson will work on those extensively in the offseason. Baltimore will likely also pick up a WR in this year’s draft to give Jackson some extra help.
Although Flacco’s play has been mediocre over his last six seasons, he is a risk-taker and will air the ball out with his big arm. That should open up the offense and provide some additional running room for Denver’s backs after playing with the conservative Keenum last season. The Broncos will almost certainly be a run-first team, and the addition of Flacco will be beneficial to Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in 2019.
As mentioned above, Flacco will take some risks and has no problem throwing the deep ball which could help speedster Courtland Sutton rebound after an unimpressive 2018 season. Overall, there won’t be much change for the outlook of Denver’s receivers as the transition from Keenum to Flacco is a marginal upgrade at best.
Drew Lock (QB – Missouri)
Lock has long been tied to the Broncos as a favorite of John Elway’s at the number 10 pick in this year’s draft. After signing Joe Flacco and his $18.5 million salary and having to take at least a $7 million hit against the cap for Case Keenum’s contract, the Broncos may not be in the market for Lock’s services now. The Broncos would have been wise to draft Lock, one of the most talented QBs in this draft, and sit him behind Keenum for a year to develop and then take over when Keenum’s deal expired next season. Now, the Broncos have too much money invested in the position and a three-year deal for Flacco. It seems more than likely that the Broncos draft another position with their first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. That leaves the door open for Lock to fall to another team. With Dwayne Haskins a near-lock to go to the Giants at No. 6, and Kyler Murray rocketing up draft boards, Lock may be the third QB off the board to a Dolphins team that just parted ways with Ryan Tannehill. If Lock isn’t selected by the Broncos or Dolphins, he’ll most likely fall to the second round.