I originally started writing this column Monday evening in talking about the three Thanksgiving Day games on the slate. But in this business, stories and what we write about can change on the fly.
As I sat at my desk researching those games, I also had Monday Night Football playing on my phone between the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams and I was just mesmerized with what Lamar Jackson was doing.
He ended Monday night’s game going 15-of-20 for just 169 yards, but five of those 15 passes were for touchdowns. He then added eight carries for 95 yards in a complete decimation of the Rams by a 45-6 final. It went so well for the Ravens that former Heisman winning backup QB Robert Griffin III got reps in the fourth quarter, as did many other backups. If you’re treating a profession football game like you would a high school game in that you’re getting kids late second half reps, that says two things — it speaks to how well the one team has done and how bad the other one has been.
The Ravens at this point are the most unstoppable force in the league and that’s because of Jackson being a complete dual threat. If he’s not burning your opposing secondary, he’s taking off when receivers aren’t open and gaining chunk yards downfield.
He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to a real-life video game QB since Michael Vick’s peak years in the early to mid 2000s in that it’s almost impossible to game plan for the guy.
Fantasy-wise, Jackson’s dual threat ability makes him the hottest commodity you can have, as he ranks number one in fantasy football with 294 points in standard, half point PPR leagues. Second to him is Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey with just one point less at 293, while third place — QB Russell Wilson — has 242 points. So if you’ve got any of these guys, you’re doing quite well. If you’ve got two of them, you’re the fantasy team to beat as you head into playoffs.
To put what Jackson is doing with his legs in historical perspective, he currently ranks ninth in the league in rushing with 876 yards. So that’s better than two-thirds of the top NFL RBs. That’s absurd. The next best rushing QB is rookie Kyler Murray at 418 yards. Vick had one 1,000 yard rushing year with 1,039 in 2006 and Jackson has five more games to pick up 164 yards to break that record and become the second QB to do this.
This is what I’m anxious to see — with Jackson dominating the league, are we going to see a renaissance of the running, dual threat QBs that we saw in the early 2010s? At that time, we saw the likes of Cam Newton, the aforementioned RGIII and Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Tannehill and Tim Tebow beating you with their legs just as often as they did with their arms. Personally I think we could be seeing this, especially with Murray, but that era proved that those QBs could also be injury prone with the hits they took (see RGII and Newton as examples in their bodies breaking down).
An apparent holiday miracle occurred last week as I went 7-3 with my picks and I’m above .500 at 56-54 as we head into the final week of the fantasy football regular season for most of you.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans. Since Tannehill became a starter after Marcus Mariota’s benching, the Titans are 4-1 and travel to divisional rival Indianapolis this week. In the fantasy world, he’s put up 18 or more points in each game, highlighted by last week’s 32 point performance. If you’ve had patchwork QBs this year after striking out on your draft picks, Tannehill is a nice option for a playoff run.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins. I’ve put him here before this year and I believe in him once again this week against a Philly secondary that’s virtually non-existent. Parker has seen double-digit targets in five of the last seven games and is actually now WR21 on the season.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers. To have any hope of beating the Ravens on Sunday, the Niners are going to have to put some points on the board. Big points, that is, and Samuel should benefit from this. The rookie out of South Carolina has scored 12 or more fantasy points in the past three weeks. Expect that trend to continue.
Jonathan Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts. Since starter Marlon Mack broke his hand, Williams has reeled off back-to-back 100+ yard rushing performances. He’s going to get plenty of carries once again this week against the Titans. While getting over 100 yards might not happen, I think he’ll get double-digit fantasy points regardless.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts. Doyle was once a solid fantasy TE a few years ago, especially during the Andrew Luck era. But last year, the Colts brought in fellow TE Eric Ebron and Doyle’s output has drastically been reduced. Earlier this week, the Colts placed Ebron on IR and Doyle should see a large uptick in production from here on out.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans. This is your weekly reminder that the quarterback facing the New England Patriots will struggle from a fantasy standpoint. Watson draws the short straw this week on Sunday Night Football.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers. Denver has given up the seventh fewest fantasy points to wideouts on the season, and that’s who Allen and company will face this Sunday. After struggling through the middle portion of the year, Allen has put up back-to-back double digit fantasy totals. However, don’t bank on a third straight week.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams. At this point in the season, Jared Goff is a broken quarterback and Woods is at best the second option at wideout on the team. If you drafted him this year, you’ve been disappointed and probably aren’t making a deep playoff run, especially if he was drafted as one of your top people. It’s actually a great matchup against Arizona but Goff has just been too bad to trust at this point.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks. If you’ve been a Carson owner for quite sometime, you’ll know that A) he’s a very good runner and continually breaks tackles and B) he has a severe case of permanent fumble-itis. Carson coughed up two pigskins last week, one of which he did not recover. Enter Rashaad Penny, who then went over 100 yards and a score. Head coach Pete Carroll then hinted this week that Penny has earned more opportunities. Carson won’t be the true workhorse that he’s been for the remainder of the regular season.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens. Andrews has been statistically one of the better fantasy TEs this season. But when you break the numbers down, he’s averaged just 7.2 points per game when you exclude three big games of 20+ points. Baltimore also has other TEs involved in the offense with Nate Boyle and Hayden Hurst. I’ll take a chance here and say Andrews has a below average week against the Niners on Sunday.