NFL

Lamar Jackson Can Return to the Top of Fantasy Football's Quarterback Position in 2023

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere
Lamar Jackson Can Return to the Top of Fantasy Football's Quarterback Position in 2023

With NFL training camps only a couple of weeks away, the 2023 season is almost here.

With the official start of the preseason on the horizon, Fantasy Football Drafts are just around the corner. It's time to start preparing!

Lamar Jackson is expected to be one of the first six quarterbacks taken in fantasy drafts. At the center of a new offense in 2023, what's Jackson's outlook for this season?

Fantasy rankings and projections come from numberFire.

Lamar Jackson Overview

2022 Fantasy Points: 238.08 points
2023 Projected Points:
366.83 points
numberFire's Projected 2023 Ranking: QB4
2023 Projected Stats:

  • 3,561.07 passing yards
  • 26.06 passing TDs
  • 9.99 INTs
  • 992.43 rushing yards
  • 7.48 rushing TDs

Lamar Jackson 2023 Fantasy Outlook

Injury History and The Impact of Recency Bias

Jackson's last two seasons have been cut short due to injury with the former MVP playing just 12 games in back-to-back seasons. Both times, those absences included the final four weeks of the season and resulted in a disappointing finish to Baltimore's year. Those outcomes, combined with the prevailing narrative that Jackson doesn't win in the postseason (1-3 record in 4 games), have created a negative lens through which many view Jackson's outlook moving forward.

Recency bias is a difficult thing to overcome. When estimating future events, we tend to overemphasize recent experiences and the latest information we possess. This happens often with injuries in fantasy football. Entering the 2017 season, wide receiver Keenan Allen had played just nine games over the last two seasons and was viewed by many as an injury-prone player who could not be relied on for consistent production despite only being 25 years old. Over his next five seasons, Allen missed just two games and recorded either 1,000 yards or 100 receptions in each season, becoming the model of consistency for fantasy production at his position.

As a quarterback, Jackson is not being written off to the degree Allen was, but his prior production is being overlooked due to his recent injuries. Jackson recorded 6.8 rushing yards per attempt last season (the second-highest of his career) with a 2.1% interception percentage (his lowest mark since 2019).

After a disappointing 2021, Jackson was bouncing back in 2022 despite a depleted pass-catching core. After tight end Mark Andrews, the Ravens' most-targeted players were Demarcus Robinson, Isaiah Likely, and Devin Duvernay. Working with that group, he recorded the sixth-most fantasy points per game among quarterbacks (minimum two starts) and was Pro Football Focus' fifth-highest-rated quarterback.

The Ravens made several changes this offseason -- all of which should better position Jackson for success moving forward. Those changes are important, but it's also important to see through recency bias and realize that the starting point for Jackson was already extremely high. No, he has not matched his levels from his MVP season in 2019, but on a per-game basis, he has remained a difference-maker at the quarterback position and should be available at a discounted ADP.

Changes Heading into 2023

This offseason, the Ravens made a change in offensive coordinator, bringing in Todd Monken for Greg Roman. They signed Jackson to a five-year $260 million contract, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. In free agency, they brought in wide receivers Odell Beckham and Nelson Agholor. In the NFL draft, they used their first-round pick on wide receiver Zay Flowers.

The result is an environment that is set up for Jackson to succeed. After being a dominant narrative for over two years, Jackson's contract extension is finally in place. After years of wide receiver groups plagued by injury and below-average play, Jackson will enter 2023 with the best pass-catching group of his career. To tie it all together, Todd Monken is expected to bring a more pass-heavy approach.

The pieces are there for Jackson to have an elite season, but there are some risks. From a fantasy perspective, the increased focus on the passing game will need to offset any expected loss in rushing volume for Jackson. That could happen through increased efficiency and scoring opportunities -- or through Jackson's passing numbers outpacing his lost opportunities in the run game.

If things go well, the Ravens' offense could provide Jackson with the best of both worlds: increased passing numbers and more space in the run game with defenses having to respect Baltimore's weapons. If Jackson struggles, he could lose rushing volume and post inefficient passing numbers in an offense experiencing growing pains in their first season together.

The Ravens' schedule makes things slightly more difficult for Jackson. Baltimore faces each team in their division on the road within the first five weeks of the season. Jackson has the ability to overcome that, but it decreases the margin for error during the crucial first weeks of the new offenses' debut.

Opportunity Cost: Where is Jackson Being Drafted?

There is an opportunity cost to every draft pick in fantasy football. When you choose to draft a player, you are also choosing to give up the opportunity to draft other players with similar average draft positions (ADP). Thinking about these tradeoffs as you maneuver through a draft can help you build a better roster.

Jackson's current ADP in FanDuel's best ball contests is 31.9. On Fantasy Football Calculator, his ADP is 61.0.

Selecting Jackson at his FanDuel ADP could mean passing on wide receivers Tee Higgins, DeVonta Smith, and D.K. Metcalf, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Najee Harris. This group consists of elite talents with some clear volume limitations. Higgins, Smith, and Hockenson are all productive players, but they are all the number two options on their teams behind Ja'Marr Chase, A.J. Brown, and Justin Jefferson, respectively. Metcalf is the top option on the Seattle Seahawks but faces target competition from Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Stevenson had a breakout sophomore season, but there are always concerns about the New England Patriots' tendency to split touches in their backfield. Harris' concerns are less about volume and more about his play. His 73.5 offense grade from Pro Football Focus last season was the best of his two-year career, and he still ranked 38th among running backs.

Final Verdict

Jackson's 2023 season marks a pivotal point in his NFL career, and also a pivotal point in fantasy football seasons.

If Jackson can stay healthy and capitalize on the changes Baltimore made this offseason, he should provide excellent value at his ADP. Similar to Keenan Allen entering 2018, this could be the lowest Jackson's ADP is for the foreseeable future. If Jackson struggles, the opportunity cost to select him at his ADP is significant enough that it could disadvantage teams that select him.

As is usually the case with quarterbacks, the question comes down to if you want to select an elite signal caller early. If you do, then Jackson's potential value is best viewed through a two-versus-two comparison of the players you can pair him with by selecting a different position when Patrick Mahomes(ADP of 11.1), Jalen Hurts(ADP of 14.8), and Josh Allen (ADP of 18.3) come off the board.

Some potential scenarios include:

The upside scenario for Jackson could see him provide weekly production on par with the quarterbacks being taken ahead of him while providing the opportunity to pair him with elite options at wide receiver or running back.

There is definitely uncertainty with Jackson's outlook, but it is accounted for by his ADP. Fight through recency bias and select a potential difference-maker at a 15 to 20-pick discount.


The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.