It looks like the Ravens might be putting Lamar Jackson in the starting lineup. He doesn’t seem to be NFL material yet as a passer, but he might be the best running quarterback in the league, and that should be getting everyone’s attention.
Jackson isn’t anywhere near as good as a passer as Joe Flacco, who apparently picked up a hip injury in the Pittsburgh game. I have watched him hold his hip a little after a hit on the first series, but he made it through that game with no issues. Maybe the injury became more apparent after the adrenaline rush of the game wore off. (A cynic might wonder if the Ravens are using the injury as an opportunity to put Jackson in the starting lineup without actually “benching” Flacco.)
Regardless, Jackson might start, and his rushing production might make him a surprisingly decent fantasy option (especially in Week 12, when they’re at home against the hapless Raiders).
Most fantasy scoring systems tend to be tilted in favor of running quarterbacks. Typically, rushing production tends to be worth about twice as much as passing numbers, giving running quarterbacks a huge advantage relative to immobile pocket passers like Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.
In this century, 12 rookie quarterbacks have put up top-20 numbers. That’s per-game production, and using standard scoring (and I’m looking on at quarterbacks who started at least half of the season, so about 32 quarterbacks per year).
The four rookie quarterbacks who put up top-10 numbers in their first year all helped themselves a lot by running – Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Vince Young and Andrew Luck. Five of the eight ranking in the teens also were productive runners (with three of them scoring 6 TDs).
I’m not promising above-average numbers for Jackson (at this point, it’s not even certain he’ll start). There are lots of good quarterbacks out there this season. But his rushing production might allow him to put up a few decent games if they opt to stick with him as their starter. (And definitely an intriguing fantasy option for next year, when he’ll presumably be further along as a passer.)
|BEST ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS (per game)|
|2011||Cam Newton, Car.||16||253||1.31||44||.88||27.8||4|
|2012||Robert Griffin III, Wash.||15||213||1.33||54||.47||24.2||5|
|2006||Vince Young, Tenn.||13||159||.85||41||.54||18.8||9|
|2012||Andrew Luck, Ind.||16||273||1.44||16||.31||22.9||10|
|2012||Russell Wilson, Sea.||16||195||1.63||31||.25||20.8||12|
|2009||Matthew Stafford, Det.||10||227||1.30||11||.20||19.0||14|
|2006||Matt Leinart, Ariz.||11||227||1.00||5||.18||16.9||14|
|2015||Marcus Mariota, Tenn.||12||235||1.58||21||.25||22.2||16|
|2015||Jameis Winston, T.B.||16||253||1.38||13||.38||21.8||17|
|2016||Dak Prescott, Dall.||16||229||1.44||18||.38||21.2||17|
|2001||Chris Weinke, Car.||15||195||.73||9||.40||16.0||20|
|2003||Byron Leftwich, Jac.||13||207||.92||8||.15||15.8||20|
Some don’t like looking at per-game numbers. Here are the same figures, only showing the season totals. Well, not quite season totals – stats show only what the players did when starting (there are problems a few games in there were a couple of these guys came off the bench, and those stats aren’t included.)
|BEST ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS (per game)|
|2011||Cam Newton, Car.||16||4,051||21||17||706||14||27.8||4|
|2012||Robert Griffin III, Wash.||15||3,200||20||5||815||7||24.2||5|
|2006||Vince Young, Tenn.||13||2,066||11||12||528||7||18.8||9|
|2012||Andrew Luck, Ind.||16||4,374||23||18||255||5||22.9||10|
|2012||Russell Wilson, Sea.||16||3,118||26||10||489||4||20.8||12|
|2009||Matthew Stafford, Det.||10||2,267||13||20||108||2||19.0||14|
|2006||Matt Leinart, Ariz.||11||2,493||11||11||56||2||16.9||14|
|2015||Marcus Mariota, Tenn.||12||2,818||19||10||252||3||22.2||16|
|2015||Jameis Winston, T.B.||16||4,042||22||15||210||6||21.8||17|
|2016||Dak Prescott, Dall.||16||3,667||23||4||282||6||21.2||17|
|2001||Chris Weinke, Car.||15||2,931||11||19||128||6||16.0||20|
|2003||Byron Leftwich, Jac.||13||2,695||12||16||108||2||15.8||20|