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2018 NFL Draft fantasy profile: QB Lamar Jackson

Which team could best use a talent like Lamar Jackson?

NCAA Football: TaxSlayer Bowl-Louisville vs Mississippi State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve listened to any episode of our fantasy football podcast, then you know how I—and everyone else on the show—feels about Lamar Jackson.

Jackson has been a point of some contention leading up to this draft as during the combine process, NFL GMs and scouts were openly wondering if Jackson would make a better wide receiver than he would a quarterback. I will tell you now that that is false. If you’d like more than just my word on it (and a more indepth dive into Jackson The Quarterback) make sure to check out Jordan’s piece on the incoming rookie:

With all the chatter surrounding Jackson, it might be hard to ascertain what he does well as a quarterback and how that might translate to the NFL. Throwing wise, his biggest skill is his arm strength. His throwing motion is very reminiscent of Michael Vick in that a small flick of his wrist can send the ball 50 yards downfield. Outside of just his arm strength, Jackson has experience under center—not nessecarily common with incoming quarterbacks—and displays poise in the pocket. He won’t take off at the first sign of pressure and on multiple occasions has displayed the ability to avoid oncoming tacklers while keeping his eyes downfield and completing the pass.

Of course what makes Jackson such an intriguing talent is his athletic ability. When he gets out in open space, there are very few players who can track him down in a straight foot race. Add to that Jackson’s open field instincts and elusiveness and he’s almost impossible to bring down. In his three seasons at Louisville, he had 10 rushing touchdowns of 40 or more yards and posted 13 games with at least 100 rushing yards and multiple rushing touchdowns. For what it’s worth, Saquon Barkley had nine such games.

But, despite what I may continuously spout on social media, there is certainly room for improvement in Jackson’s game. He has to improve his touch on throws across the middle and has a tendency to sail passes, often making his receivers work too hard to bring in the catch. Obviously you want to see his completion higher and his turnovers lower and that comes with improving his decision making and speeding up his ability to move through his progressions. Repeatedly Jackson won’t make it past his second read before stopping his progression.

Like most of the quarterback’s coming into this year’s draft, Jackson’s success is going to be closely linked to what team drafts him. If he lands with a creative head coach/offensive coordinator who can build an offense around him—think Bill O’Brien with Deshaun Watson—then Jackson has a chance to become a serious playmaker in this league.

Jackson’s College Stats

Year Games Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rush Att Yds TD
Year Games Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rush Att Yds TD
2017 13 254 430 59.1 3660 8.5 8.7 27 10 232 1601 18
2016 13 230 409 56.2 3543 8.7 9.1 30 9 260 1571 21
2015 12 135 247 54.7 1840 7.4 7 12 8 163 960 11

Best Fantasy Fits

  • Buffalo Bills: In our Fake Teams Mock Draft I snagged Jackson for the Bills with the 12th pick. Having had Tyrod Taylor for the last few years, the Bills already know how to maximize an athletic quarterback and would perceivably have little problem building an offense around Jackson (who for the record would be an upgrade over Taylor). The Bills offense is influx but they still have LeSean McCoy in the backfield (imagine having to defend Jackson AND McCoy) with Zay Jones and Kelvin Benjamin catching passes. Not the most elite crew, but Jackson’s fantasy value is going to be impacted more by what he’s allowed to do in the offense than who’s surrounding him, at least for his rookie season.
  • Arizona Cardinals: I know Paddi said he liked Josh Allen to the Cardinals but he’s stupid and wrong. Not only would Jackson be playing with Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, he wouldn’t have to change team names! That seems like the biggest reason right there! But back to David Johnson and Jackson being in the same backfield... pretty deadly pairing right? I also think working with Sam Bradford on a daily basis would help with Jackson’s anticipation and accuracy as Bradford, when healthy, is one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the league.
  • Cincinnati Bengals: Here’s my sleeper pick if Jackson slips into the 20’s. Andy Dalton just isn’t doing it for me fantasy wise (and real life wise) and Cincinnati could use just a general spicing up. When was the last time you were excited to watch a Bengals game? Unlike Buffalo, the Bengals have a lot of talent for Jackson to work with, including Mr. Criminally Underrated A.J. Green along with last year’s first round pick John Ross and sophomore running back Joe Mixon. If Marvin Lewis wanted to get creative, he could break defensive coordinator’s minds having to game plan for Jackson, Mixon and Ross motioning into in the same backfield. Yikes.
  • Bonus: I want Jackson to go to the Patriots. The end.

Poll

Where do you want to see Lamar Jackson go?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Buffalo
    (7 votes)
  • 25%
    Arizona
    (8 votes)
  • 6%
    Cincinnati
    (2 votes)
  • 28%
    New England
    (9 votes)
  • 18%
    other
    (6 votes)
32 votes total Vote Now