Outside of Patrick Mahomes, no quarterback took the fantasy football world more by storm than Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. After entering the season as a backup, Jackson took over for an injured Joe Flacco and used his rushing prowess to become one of the most reliable fantasy quarterbacks in the league. Now entering the year as Baltimore’s unquestioned starter, can Jackson repeat his reliable performance?
Fantasy Football 2019 Outlook: Lamar Jackson
After starting the year as a poor mans’ Taysom Hill, Jackson earned the starting job when Joe Flacco went down with a hip injury. Initially expected to just fill in, Jackson’s remarkable playmaking ability allowed him to take the starting job away from Flacco. This was fantastic news for fantasy football, as Jackson’s style of play made him one of the most coveted quarterbacks in fantasy.
Thanks to an objectively broken scoring system, Jackson’s elite rushing ability gave him one of the safest floors and highest ceilings of any quarterback. During his seven starts, Jackson recorded 1,114 passing yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions to go along with 556 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This performance made him the QB7 over the final seven games of the season.
What’s most impressive about Jackson is that he never had a bad start from a fantasy perspective. Using default NFL.com scoring, Jackson always scored 24 to 35 fantasy points in each one of his games. This amount of consistency is incredibly valuable from the quarterback position, as Jackson’s rushing prowess made him a plug-and-play starter who always helped you win your matchup.
Jackson was fantastic in 2018, but he might not be able to do it again in 2019. For one, the Los Angeles Chargers may have figured him out. Jackson played well against the Chargers in the regular season but looked completely lost in the AFC Wild Card Round. The Chargers were the first team to face Jackson twice and completely limited his effectiveness by selling out to stop the run. Jackson couldn’t beat Los Angeles with his arm as was largely ineffective for the majority of the game.
Looking ahead to 2019, there’s a very real chance that teams take a similar strategy. Part of the reason Jackson was so effective is that NFL teams had never seen anything like what the Ravens were doing. With barely any game film to study, nobody had a blueprint for how to stop Jackson. That blueprint now exists, and Jackson will need to prove he’s able to adapt to these new gameplans.
Additionally, there’s reason to believe that Jackson won’t get as much work in the running game this year. Baltimore’s season was in jeopardy when Jackson took over, so the coaching staff used him as a runner as much as possible. Jackson recorded 119 carries in his seven starts and was on pace for 272 carries during a 16-game season.
Baltimore cannot give Jackson that type of workload if they want him to last a full 16-game season. 272 carries is a lot for a running back, nevermind a quarterback. Quarterbacks are easily the most important position in the game and Baltimore cannot invite that type of injury risk. The Ravens will either take away some of his rushing attempts, or Jackson will miss time to injury. Either way, it’s bad news for Jackson’s fantasy value.
That’s not to say that Jackson will be a bust. He’s still incredibly electric and can make a play any time he touches the ball. Additionally, he could develop as a passer and force defenses to respect his arm and open up running lanes. However, it’s unlikely he maintains his QB7 pace in 2019.
Lamar Jackson Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator currently has Jackson going off the board with the 140th pick. This places him just behind guys like Tom Brady, Josh Allen, and Jimmy Garoppolo and ahead of Kirk Cousins and Mitch Trubisky.
This is the perfect place to select Jackson. While he probably won’t be as successful as he was during his abbreviated run in 2018, the second-year passer still possesses low-end QB1 upside. The Ravens will try to protect him, but they won’t turn him into a pure pocket passer. Jackson will get his fair share of designed runs and could scramble on any given play. If everything goes right, he’s a safe plug-and-play starter at quarterback. In a worst-case scenario, he’s a smart high-upside streaming candidate.
There are more competent fantasy quarterbacks in today’s NFL than ever before. Instead of reaching for an early-round quarterback like Andrew Luck or Patrick Mahomes, take a flier on a guy like Jackson. He’ll probably give you starting-caliber production, but even if he doesn’t, you should be able to easily stream the position.
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