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Sell Lamar Jackson in Dynasty, Seriously

RotoViz Dynasty Coordinator Curtis Patrick begins his series on 2019’s key dynasty fantasy football performers with the provocative call to sell Lamar Jackson

2019 has been one of the crazier fantasy seasons I can remember. The quarterback position has been like an old episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show – “You get a start, and you get a start, and YOU get a start too!” Not only has it been another banner year for Zero-RB builds, but the gap between the elite (read: basically just Christian McCaffrey) and everyone else is wider than ever before. Wide receiver has seen some breakouts we anticipated, others we didn’t, and some major let downs as well. The post-Gronk tight end apocalypse has been even grimmer than we feared.

We’re more than halfway through the actual football season and some dynasty leagues have already begun their playoffs. Let’s begin by discussing some of the most important players at each position, starting with quarterback.

Lamar Jackson, Shaper of Dynasty Worlds

One thing this whole Lamar Jackson craze has created is newfound appreciation for quarterbacks, even in single-QB dynasty formats. It’s easy to see why people are all in on the second-year standout.

Jackson has been a QB1 in 10 of 11 games this season, posting over 30 fantasy points in an amazing 63 percent of appearances. Not only has he been an autostart player, he’s given his owners a clear advantage at a onesie position almost every week. Anyone who’s had to face Jackson this year on an opposing roster knows a little about this, too.

AS would be expected, he’s dominating the QB counting stat and efficiency metric leaderboards. His weekly outputs are boosted by his amazing rushing floor (he’s eighth in the NFL in rushing yards and is currently on pace for 1,284 yards on the ground) and his weekly ceiling is captured by his touchdown scoring proficiency (30 total TDs, first in the NFL). He’s been the absolute embodiment of the Konami Code (hat tip to RotoViz legend Rich Hribar for popularizing the phrase) in 2019.

After his five-touchdown performance in Week 12, I could feel the shift in how dynasty owners were thinking and talking about Jackson, so I hit the social media airwaves and tested the value waters.

I started with a poll I expected Jackson to win, but I definitely didn’t expect him win by a 4-1 margin. Sure,  Joe Mixon has fallen victim to the Bengals floating dumpster fire offensive line and poor QB play this season, but he’s been better lately (17 or more PPR in three of his last four games), RB is thin, and his stans are still pretty loud on Twitter. Mixon is RB13 in expected fantasy points (per our NFL Stat Explorer). His dynasty startup ADP in high stakes FFPC formats was 1.11 this year – that’s right – he was a R1 pick across 93 high stakes drafts this offseason. Jackson lapped him.

I jumped up a few spots in the rankings to a player garnering praise from football analysts and fantasy analysts alike – Raiders rookie and 2019 first-round NFL draft pick, Josh Jacobs. I mentioned that Mixon was RB13 in expected points – Jacobs is RB11 in actual points. The idea here is comparing Jackson to a young player who’s producing rather than one who’s simply a name brand.

If Jackson crushing Mixon in the earlier poll was a mild surprise, his defeat of Jacobs by a healthy margin was a jaw-dropping one. I think I’d be hard-pressed to find many any dynasty fantasy ranker or analyst who would put Jacobs outside the top-two rounds of a mid-season startup draft or outside their top-8 in dynasty running back rankings.

How high does the community really rate Jackson? I found the exact answer to that question, and I mean exact.

And it shook me to my core.

With over 1800 responses the margin of error here is around 2.5 percent.

I would trade Jackson for the 2020 1.01 in a heartbeat. I’d trade him for the 1.02, the 1.03, or the 1.04.

  • The value of the picks is going to increase sharply over the next four months
  • Sustaining this rushing production over multiple years would be unprecedented
  • There is significant advantage to owning the QB1 in fantasy in any given year – but Jackson is unlikely to repeat as the QB1 next year – there hasn’t been a repeat since Drew Brees in 2001-2012)

Below is a chart from research I published over at Pro Football Focus in 2018.

As you can see, owning the overall QB1 versus a replacement-level QB (QB13) has typically provided a nice advantage, ranging from an additional six to 10 fantasy points per game from 2013-2017. In 2018, Patrick Mahomes provided about 9 points per week in padding versus a replacement-level QB. Jackson is pacing at closer to 10 this season.

The theme?

It’s not uncommon for a quarterback to scorch the fantasy earth in any given season and lap the field en route to a fantasy-MVP level campaign. In fact, it happens nearly every year.

You know what is uncommon? A quarterback repeating that performance the next season.

As I mentioned earlier, only Brees has managed to do it this decade. Furthermore, even the slightest drop-off (from QB1 to QB5) provides only minimal padding versus a replacement-level quarterback, historically speaking. This is the whole point behind the “late round QB” movement of the past several years.

In single-QB leagues, cash in this chip while everyone wants it. Jackson will never be more valuable than he is right now.

Image Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Lamar Jackson.

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