1. Joe Flacco, QB
Not only was Joe Flacco an unexpected star in Cleveland but he was also an unexpected star in the league. After spending the past three seasons as a backup with the New York Jets, Flacco was released ahead of the 2023 campaign. He then sat unsigned until mid-November when the Browns decided to bring him in as a practice squad player.
Originally seen as insurance following Deshaun Watson’s season-ending injury, Flacco wound up starting in Week 13 when Dorian Thompson-Robinson was out with a concussion. Cleveland lost the game but Flacco showed enough to earn more time. A win the following week over the Jacksonville Jaguars was enough for him to keep the job. It also started “Flacco Fever” across the league.
Flacco had 311 yards and three touchdowns in that win and then led them to three more victories. During that four-game winning streak, the 38-year-old had at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in each game. He ended up finishing with 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading the Browns to more than 30 points three different times.
A former Super Bowl winner, Flacco will take the reins again this Saturday after taking Week 18 off. He’s 5-0 in his career in Wild Card games and if he makes it 6-0, the fan base might be ready to put up a statue.