Every year, the top five fantasy quarterbacks by ADP shift, and a former dynasty commodity becomes a value as shiny new quarterbacks explode onto the scene. Dak Prescott two years ago. Justin Herbert last year. Joe Burrow this year.
Two years ago at the ripe age of 22 years old, Lamar Jackson was the unanimous MVP of the NFL. He led the league in total touchdowns and produced over 4,300 total yards. Fantasy managers and the NFL couldn’t get enough of him! He was a Konami code!
Fast forward two years and people are talking about selling. His ADP is dipping outside the top five quarterbacks and seemingly continuing to fall. The Ravens have a reluctance to give him the extension he deserves despite injuries plaguing their roster, his weapons, and himself this year. Could there be a bigger fall from grace and more disrespected QB in fantasy and real life NFL landscape right now?
Last year a Lamar Jackson contract extension seemed like a mere formality. Now it looks like Jackson may play his 5th and final year on his rookie deal. Hmmm. pic.twitter.com/zwGv72odT2
— Joe Bryant (@Football_Guys) March 2, 2022
Literally everything fantasy managers have cried for the last couple years was happening. Get him receiving help, enter Rashod Bateman. Throw the ball more, first season averaging over 30 pass attempts per game. Run a bit less, but not too much less, lowest per game rushing yards output of his career, but still 63.9 or a 1,022-yard output in a 16-game fantasy season.
So why the scrutiny? Especially in a year where Bateman didn’t debut until Week 6. He was missing his starting and backup running backs in J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Plus he had issues with an ankle injury that forced him to miss games, but also could have affected him prior to being shut down.
All this to say. It’s time to dive into why Jackson is still a top five fantasy quarterback and is becoming a value at the most important position in football.
Mobility has become something every fantasy manager wants in their quarterback. The upside of having a quarterback rush for 500 yards a season plus their passing yards is a commodity. But it’s also something that very quickly becomes a concern for managers when unnecessary hits are taken and the risk of injury piles up.
Lamar Jackson has gotten better at not taking bad hits. He didn’t really throttle down his rushing attempts this season, averaging about a half carry more per game, 11.1, then 2020. As stated to open the piece, this was safe to expect given they lost their primary and secondary running backs for the season. Between 2019 and 2020, he did rush almost a full attempt less per game. So the attempt to rush less is there.
From an efficiency standpoint, he has remained effective. So less rushing doesn’t equate to a complete loss for him. His 63.9 yards per game was the lowest of his career, but would have made for over 1,000 yards rushing again. But let’s be honest here. We don’t need our quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards per season. He can still be a 750-yard rusher with 17 less yards on average per game then 2021.
How many quarterbacks have managed even 750 yards rushing in a season over the last 20 years you ask? That would be eight quarterbacks for a total of 12 times it’s happened. Jackson represents three of those 12 times.
Even 500 yards rushing by a quarterback has only happened 39 times in 20 years.
This alone makes Jackson a top 5 quarterback in fantasy football! But since you asked for more.
For the first year since Lamar Jackson‘s arrival, there was arguably significant investment in wanting to throw the ball more with the Rashod Bateman selection. Prior to Jackson’s first full season as starting quarterback, they brought in Marquise Brown. He also has tight end extraordinaire Mark Andrews, but this was really it. They tried to fill around him with underwhelming veterans or later second and third day dart throw wide receiver selections.
We can argue that a lack of backfield led to the Ravens throwing more. Or the more negative Game Script presented to the Ravens then the last couple of years. In 2021, they attempted to pass the ball 205 more times than in 2020. While running the ball only 38 less times. They did also run about seven more plays on average per game. It is important to note that a chunk of this increase came from Tyler Huntley, who averaged 35 attempts per game himself.
Jackson threw the ball six more times per game in 2021 over 2020. Coming up from 25 pass attempts per game to nearly 32 attempts per game. This could be a sign of great things to come. Prior to 2021, his best passing yards per game output was 208. By the time his season ended due to injury, he was averaging 240 passing yards per game. In a 17-game season, that would be his first ever 4,000 passing yards season (with 4,080). Good for No. 11 among all quarterbacks.
in the history of the NFL, every player with
80+ passing TDs and
20+ rushing TDs before their
50th career start:
Lamar Jackson pic.twitter.com/mhW1Iig5BH
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) February 20, 2022
The most important thing to note here for fantasy purposes? In 2021, 10 quarterbacks threw for 4,000 yards. Nine of them ended up as top 12 quarterbacks. This is before factoring in rushing upside.
One thing is clear about Lamar Jackson, and fantasy managers are never afraid to stand on top of a mountain top and scream it. He is not the world’s most effective passer. As has become the trend with mobile quarterbacks, their efficiency when throwing the ball takes a hit.
I have pulled five key accuracy stats from PlayerProfiler for each of the last three seasons and where he ranked among quarterbacks.
- 7.7 (No. 14) Accuracy Rating
- 70.3-percent (No. 21) True Completion Percentage
- 48.2-percent (No. 12) Pressured Completion Percentage
- 68.9-percent (No. 23) Clean Pocket Completion Percentage
- 37.0-percent (No. 20) Deep Ball Completion Percentage
- 7.1 (No. 28) Accuracy Rating
- 70.8-percent (No. 25) True Completion Percentage
- 36.3-percent (No. 14) Pressured Completion Percentage
- 76.4-percent (No. 9) Clean Pocket Completion Percentage
- 37.0-percent (No. 23) Deep Ball Completion Percentage
- 7.4 (No. 6) Accuracy Rating
- 70.9-percent (No. 12) True Completion Percentage
- 34.7-percent (No. 19) Pressured Completion Percentage
- 75.8-percent (No. 8) Clean Pocket Completion Percentage
- 33.3-percent (No. 23) Deep Ball Completion Percentage
He’s been all over the place. His True Completion Percentage, which factors out unpressured throwaways and dropped passes, has dropped in each of the last three seasons. Not a great stat, because when taking away circumstances that aren’t his fault, he’s becoming less effective.
His Pressured Completion Percentage, which really flashes his effectiveness utilizing his mobility as a passer, not just a runner, has improved significantly each season. Including the best mark of his career this past season.
just Lamar Jackson evading Myles Garrett & Jadeveon Clowney on 3rd & 10 to throw a 37-yard TD backing up as his arm is hit pic.twitter.com/LwctcvUrnJ
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) February 28, 2022
His Clean Pocket Completion Percentage directly correlates with his Protection Rate; the percentage of dropbacks the quarterback was hurried and forced to throw the ball in less than three seconds. This past season’s 76.7-percent (No. 30 among qualified quarterbacks) mark represented a career-low. Three seasons ago, with his best Clean Pocket Completion Percentage, he had an 87.3-percent (No. 3) Protection Rate. Over 10 points better! When we take into account 515 dropbacks in 2021 and an 11.4-percent difference. That’s a total of 58 dropbacks, 4.8 per game, where he saw pressure forcing the ball out in under three seconds. He took a career-high 38 sacks in three fewer games than in 2019 and 2020.
The Deep Ball is definitely his most consistently poor stat. It’s something managers want to see cleaned up. A positive to take away from this. He’s never averaged over 4.5 per game, with 2021 being the highest per-game rate of his career. So point to that stat if you must. But realize it’s a small portion of all quarterback’s games when doing so.
Lamar Jackson has missed five games due to injury so far through four NFL seasons, and they all came this past year. He also did his best to play through his ankle injury this past season. So the argument of injury concern should really be a non-factor when considering him in your fantasy draft or if trying to acquire.
In today’s NFL, beyond running back, the risk of injury is so similar between all positions. This antiquated thought process of mobile quarterbacks being injured more often needs to really stop. Especially in regards to fantasy. We aren’t staring down an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III situation with Jackson.
He’s taking fewer unnecessary hits by the season. He’s running less, but still enough for greater fantasy upside. And after what they saw this past season, there is no way the Ravens aren’t going to work on that offensive line for Jackson and their two running backs returning from ACL tears.
Jackson is a top five quarterback in fantasy, and expectations are always set so much higher for mobile quarterbacks. A pocket quarterback can throw for 4,500 yards, 30 touchdowns, and run for less than 100 yards and one or two rushing touchdowns, and no one says a peep. Jackson throws for 3,000 plus 30 touchdowns and rushes for over 1,000, plus the 10 rushing touchdowns, and he’s faced with endless flack.
The Ravens are trending in the right direction with building a respectable passing game around him and getting healthy. And Lamar Jackson is doing all he’s been asked by managers, throw more and run less, but run enough to keep that sexy fantasy ceiling there.
“Lamar Jackson doesn’t deserve big money” #Ravensflock pic.twitter.com/FhNU5uclsp
— 𝙕𝙖𝙘𝙝🦦 (@NewEraZach_) February 16, 2022
Jackson is going to get paid. His injuries or lack thereof, are not a concern. He is a special Konami Code quarterback continuing to rise. He is what fantasy managers look for every year, but instead his ADP is falling. Stop the fall!