Comments: Last Man Standig - Championship game week and 2013 thoughts...
*Raise your hand if at the start of the playoffs you predicted San Francisco and Baltimore in the Super Bowl. Yeah right, nice try. Some in the pundit world might have had that combination before the season started, but it has been some time since the Ravens had the look of a true contender. Playoff team, sure, but that's about it (or so it appeared with Denver and New England ahead of them). Then the defense finally rose up after a stenchy regular season and Baltimore's passing game turned potent.
Speaking of the Ravens' aerial attack, nobody considered Joe Flacco's fantasy season elite (yes, I went there). Therefore, it might appear that only now is he cranking out the stats. Well, not so much.
Granted, during the playoffs Flacco has thrown for eight touchdowns (without an interception), his best three game stretch of the entire season. However - and as discussed on Tuesday's FFToolbox podcast-, in his final three full games of the regular season, the strong-armed passer tossed seven touchdown passes or nearly one-third of his entire season total (22).
Unless the Super Bowl turns disastrous, Flacco enters the offseason on a valuation high, enough that some might consider him a QB1 in deeper leagues. Yeah, I'm not ready to go that far, not yet.
There is no doubt that Flacco loooooves the deep ball and he's a stud with the nine-route throws (just ask Denver). However, those bombs are hardly high-percentage looks. Even during this hot streak, he's yet to complete 60 percent of his passes in any playoff game. While the potential for home runs are greater, constant long tosses also leads to more strikeouts/incompletions. When he's rolling like he is now. Flacco can deliver the goods, but counting on him on a week-to-week basis over a full season, let's just say I'm not raising my hand on that prediction.
*That nearly costly fumble aside, Michael Crabtree's emergence over the last few games probably means we had three Top-10 2013 fantasy WRs in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers will certainly slot behind Julio Jones, but Crabtree could easily move ahead of Roddy White by next summer. Actually, let's take this a step further. As it stands right now, Crabtree is the top fantasy receiver in the NFC West. Even if Larry Fitzgerald lands Michael Vick or Alex Smith as his quarterback, the previous statement holds.
*Per friend of the FFToolbox podcast D. Orlando Ledbetter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, during the playoffs, the Falcons gave up 13 catches, 248 yards and 2 TDs to the starting tight ends.
*Also on this week's podcast, Brian Murphy and I talked about the 2013 fantasy values for Vernon Davis (improved) and Matt Ryan (could take a hit without Tony Gonzalez), plus what the Patriots should do with free agent Wes Welker. Also discussed, NFC players we're already shying away from in 2013 including Percy Harvin,Mark Ingram and the entire Saints backfield and Josh Freeman. The Bucs quarterback had a career-year with a brutal finish; over his last five games, Freeman completed 51 percent of his and threw for six touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. Those numbers might have been worse without Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams working some receiver magic. Considering the apparent QB depth next season, Freeman might be no more than a QB2 with potential, though how much is the murky part.
*On last week's podcast, I ranked the five young quarterbacks in this year's playoffs for 2013.
5) Andy Dalton - Solid as they come, but simply lacks the upside of the others. Let the Bengals find a consistent WR2 option opposite and A.J. Green and then we can talk.
4) Robert Griffin III - Before the injury, top 5 in the entire league. Uncertainty over status makes his value, well, uncertain. If he's still projected back sooner than later, would still consider drafting RG3 a QB1 and then going with QBBC rotation involving the likes of Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub or the aforementioned Flacco.
3) Russell Wilson - Tied Peyton Manning's 1998 NFL rookie record with 26 touchdown passes and did so with blah receiving options. Sleep on Wilson if you dare.
2) Andrew Luck - Considering how far the overall No. 1 pick took the Colts this season, Luck should be receiving more MVP talk than he has. Concerns stem from Indianapolis still having OL line and defensive issues and will face a more difficult schedule next season.
1) Colin Kaepernick - Offers the same lethal running/throwing combo as Griffin, but with a better overall team and two non-surgically repaired knees. With Crabtree playing at a high level, a plethora of interesting running backs, Vernon Davis and a strong offensive line, Kaepernick might crack the overall top 5 fantasy QBs next season.
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