Lamar Jackson vs Trevor Lawrence | Dynasty Fantasy Football Debates

by Shervon Fakhimi · Dynasty Leagues

Dynasty Rankings in 2023

The length of time a dynasty league is perceived to be intact can warp our sense of player values. Stefon Diggs and Cooper Kupp are surefire first round picks in seasonal leagues, but sit at no. 43 and no. 46 overall in PlayerProfiler’s Dynasty Rankings for 2023 (Rebuild Strategy). Meanwhile, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a very promising rookie but yet to catch a pass in the NFL, is no. 15 in those same rankings. Fantasy Football is a weird and random game, but from a dynasty perspective, Smith-Njigba makes more sense than Diggs or Kupp for a future-focused team.

A similar dynamic takes place at quarterback. Lamar Jackson has yet to average less than 20 points per game in any season as the full-time starter in Baltimore but sits behind Trevor Lawrence in dynasty rankings by one spot. This is despite the fact Lawrence has never averaged more than 18 points per game in his two seasons as an NFL starter. Lamar’s rushing provides him a massive edge in delivering fantasy points, but Lawrence is nearly three full years younger than Jackson, and has had no major injuries, unlike Jackson. T-Law is also ascending. He averaged 21.7 points per game in the final six games he started last season. Jackson averaged that same number of points per game, taking out the game against Denver in which Jackson was injured. Maybe Lawrence’s ranking over Jackson is justified? Let’s dig in and find out.

A Glow-Up for Lawrence

The short-lived Urban Meyer era was a disaster for the Jaguars. And yet, Trevor Lawrence still provided flashes of brilliance in his rookie season that make him one of the better quarterback prospects we’ve ever seen. Lawrence ranked fourth in Money Throws (40) as a rookie, but also threw 50 interceptable passes. Lawrence’s Money Throws fell to 28 in his sophomore season, but more importantly, he trimmed his interceptable passes by more than half (to 18). A new coaching staff led by Super Bowl winning head coach Doug Pederson and an influx of talent including Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Zay Jones finally let Lawarence get to work as a passer. Travis Etienne also returned from injury. His presence, as well as multiple additions to the offensive line, took an immense amount of pressure off of Lawrence.

A Sophomore Step Forward

Lawrence’s Adjusted Yards Per Attempt grew from 4.9 in 2021 to 7.0 last season. His true completion percentage rose from 66.2-percent to 71.7-percent. Now Calvin Ridley will be added to the fold along with first-round offensive tackle Anton Harrison. It’s been a minute since Ridley played a full NFL season (2020), but he was sensational in that season. He ranked no. 7 among receivers in yards per route run (2.48), no. 8 in yards per team pass attempt (2.19), and no. 1 in air yards (2,063) and deep targets (40). It is debatable whether Ridley will return to form as a true alpha receiver, but he will be far and away the best outside receiver Lawrence has had in his NFL career. 

Lawrence has already made a big jump in his first two seasons in the NFL. He finished in the top 10 among quarterbacks in Air Yards, pass yards, Money Throws, Pressured Throws, True Passer Rating, and EPA in 2022. In his second season with Doug Pederson and with the additions made by the Jaguars’ front office, another jump for Lawrence appears imminent. 

A Glow-Up for Lamar

Lamar Jackson is also going to experience changes in his situation in the coming season. Mark Andrews has been a constant for Jackson and is the best pass catcher on either of Baltimore’s or Jacksonville’s rosters. Rashod Bateman has not been able to stay healthy in either of his two NFL seasons thus far, but he was a major factor last season in the limited games he did play. Bateman ranked no. 12 among qualified wide receivers in yards per route run in 2022. Here are the receivers who ranked ahead of him in that metric: Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, Rashid Shaheed, A.J. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, Chris Olave, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Cooper Kupp, and CeeDee Lamb. Having a receiver like Bateman will help Jackson.

The receivers on the depth chart behind Bateman last season were Devin Duvernay and DeMarcus Robinson. The Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr for the coming season. Beckham is past the age apex, but he was serviceable for the Rams while helping them to a Super Bowl win. Baltimore also snagged one of the top receivers in this past NFL Draft in Zay Flowers. See the thread above for more on Flowers, as well as this as this article, published before the draft.

A New Offensive System

Greg Roman is out as offensive coordinator in Baltimore. His departure signals good things for Baltimore’s pass attack. Since Jackson’s first season as a full-time starter (2019), here are Baltimore’s ranks in pass rate in each of those four seasons: no. 32 (42.5-percent), no. 32 (42.2-percent), no. 23 (54.5-percent), and no. 30 (48.1-percent). Even in Jackson’s rookie season when he split starts with Joe Flacco, Baltimore was no. 30 in pass rate (50.4-percent). New offensive coordinator Todd Monken has four seasons of experience as an OC in the NFL from 2016-2019. Here are how his teams have ranked in pass rate in that span: no. 23 (56.1-percent), no. 3 (60.9-percent), no. 6 (61.6-percent), and no. 17 (57.8-percent). Monken’s least aggressive season in pass rate is still more aggressive than any year under Greg Roman. 

Lamar Jackson ranked no. 3 among QBs in fantasy points per dropback (0.69) last season. He has ranked no lower than no. 4 in that metric since 2019. He has also ranked in the top ten in QBR in three of his four seasons as a full-time NFL starter. His passing may not be as aesthetically pleasing as some other QBs, but make no mistake: Lamar Jackson is a quality NFL passer. He will have more dropbacks under Monken. Lamar will also have better receivers to target and more chances to scramble as well. All this sets up Jackson to replicate his unbelievable MVP season in 2019. He may not reach the 27.6 fantasy points per game he put up in that season, but his new circumstances give him a great chance to reach MVP heights again.

The Decision

The correct answer to who is the better bet in dynasty between Lamar Jackson and Trevor Lawrence is “yes.” Both are foundational pieces for a dynasty team. Jackson has been a more prolific fantasy producer in the past, but Lawrence rivaled that production in the second half of last season. Lawrence is three years younger than Jackson. He also has a play style more conducive to sustained health than Jackson, who has missed ten games over the last two seasons. Lawrence will take another jump in the coming season, but Jackson’s rushing provides the higher fantasy ceiling. An enhanced and robust passing attack in Baltimore gives Jackson a better chance to become an elite fantasy difference-maker. There are no wrong answers here, but the edge goes to Jackson.