Can Lamar Jackson return to form and finish QB1 in fantasy football in 2021? Let’s take a look at what changed from 2019 to 2020 and his current ADP range on Underdog!
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Per the NFL Season Long Study Hub, Lamar Jackson finished as QB10 at the conclusion of the 2020 season. This is a large drop from his 2019 MVP season in which he ran away with the top QB score and was the top overall scorer in Half PPR and Standard formats. What was the cause of his regression?
Limited Pass Attempts – Jackson went from logging 401 pass attempts in 2019 to a reduce total of 376 pass attempts in 2020 per StatMuse. This coincides with Baltimore’s emphasis on the running game. They have lead the NFL in rushing attempts the past two seasons. If the pass attempts are going to be low, one of two outcomes need to be true; Lamar Jackson needs to be efficient through the air or he needs to provide a high enough rushing floor that the passing game is just a bonus.
Decrease In Rushing Attempts – Jackson had his rushing workload decreased from 176 attempts in 2019 to 159 in 2020. That may only result in one less attempt per game but with the limited passing volume, we need to maximize his rushing workload to keep up with the elite Quarterbacks. His yards per rushing attempt decreased from 6.9 in 2019 to 6.3 in 2020. His performance is not the problem here.
Decrease In Touchdown Efficiency – We know that the passing attempts have been and will be limited. Knowing that, the touchdowns need to be there through the air. Jackson threw for 36 touchdowns in 2019 and only 26 touchdowns in 2020. He threw a touchdown on 3% less pass attempts in 2020 than 2019. With the additions of Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman, Jackson should have more reliable targets headed into 2021 to compliment Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown.
There are solid targets in Lamar Jackson’s ADP range. Is Jackson worth the risk in this range?
Josh Allen – Allen is going to have a higher floor than Lamar Jackson due to an increased amount of passing attempts and Allen’s rushing usage in the red zone. I would prefer Josh Allen over Lamar Jackson.
Brandon Aiyuk – Aiyuk saw 9+ targets from Weeks 8-15 last season with George Kittle on the shelf. Kittle is healthy but, Aiyuk is the WR1 in San Francisco and has the upside to be a down the field threat in 2022.
Kenny Golladay – Golladay is entering his first season in the Giants’ offense and gets a Quarterback downgrade going from Matthew Stafford to Daniel Jones. I’m willing to pass on Golladay in this range as I do not see the big play upside.
Michael Thomas – Thomas comes into 2022 with either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill at Quarterback for New Orleans. He will also miss the beginning of the season due to injury. I’d take Lamar Jackson here if I need a Quarterback.
Josh Jacobs – Jacobs should get the bulk of the rushing workload for Las Vegas but, they downgraded their offensive line in the offseason and signed Kenyan Drake to a multi-year deal. This paired with the lack of receiving upside leads me to be low on Jacobs in 2021.
Mike Davis – Davis is clearly the RB1 for a Falcons offense that will pass the ball a ton. Davis excelled last season filling in for Christian McCaffery during his injury and I expect a similar role for him in the Falcons’ offense. Davis is a solid RB2 if you take a Wide Receiver early.
Kyler Murray – Murray presents a big decision to make in this range if you need a Quarterback. Murray is going to eclipse 550 pass attempts and 150 rushing attempts in 2021 barring an injury. This is a toss up for me but, I would lean Murray over Jackson due to the passing volume.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Beckham has big play upside on a Browns offense that lacks an explosive threat. The downside to Beckham is that Cleveland was 4th in rushing attempts in 2020 due to their run first offense. They just extended Nick Chubb which shows me that they look to focus on the running game going forward.
Can Lamar Jackson be QB1 in 2021? Yes but, he needs to score touchdowns through the air at a high rate and increase his rushing workload. A lot needs to go right for this outcome due to a lack of opportunities.
Photo Credit: Bryan Woolston