If you had asked NFL draft experts at this time last season who the second quarterback taken in the 2008 NFL Draft would be, I doubt you would've had anybody say Joe Flacco (18th overall). But the Delaware quarterback became a Top 20 draft pick when the Ravens, who had previously dropped down in the draft, traded with the Texans to move back up and take him.
Here's a Delaware Blue Hen, in case you're wondering
The first thing people want to know is "Who the $&^# Is Joe Flacco?!" He had been Tyler Palko's backup at Pitt ("Who the $&^# Is Tyler Palko?!") before jumping ship and transferring to Delaware, where he went on to have a huge senior season. But that's about it -- he doesn't have any real experience at the Division 1 college level. Now there have been plenty of successful NFL quarterbacks to come out of small non-football-power schools - guys like Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois) and Peyton Manning (Tennessee) - but you still have to be concerned about whether or not the guy can handle the NFL. The only thing we have to go on is the opinion of scouts, and you know how well [coughAkiliSmithcough] that goes.
With the aforementioned Steve McNair having retired, the only thing standing between Flacco and the starting job is the underwhelming Kyle Boller. Boller has career totals of 45 touchdowns, 44 interceptions and a QB rating of 77.1 with similar uninspiring numbers during his eight starts last season. He's not going to get the job done, either for the Ravens or for your fantasy team. And let's all try to avoid the uncomfortable fact that Kyle Boller was a first round pick too, taken #19 overall in the 2003 Draft. That's not at all like this situation. Nope. Totally different.
The Ravens also have former college star Troy Smith at QB, but he's now the odd man out. Baltimore didn't trade up eight spots in the first round because they're confident in Troy Smith.
The Ravens have to make a hard decision. Does Flacco need a year of experience on the bench - which means they suffer through another season of Kyle Boller - or is Flacco ready to go from day one? On top of that decision, consider whether a sucky start to the season will pressure the Ravens to start Flacco, whether he's ready or not.
I'm going to go with 1) Flacco could use a season to learn but 2) the Ravens will have to bench Boller and throw Flacco in at some point. With the Ravens' first six opponents being Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, that point will probably be around Week 7.
If you have a large bench, Flacco would be a good guy to grab off waivers early on and stash him away. Flacco won't start right away, but he'll be starting by mid-season.