Lamar Jackson puts the moves on Houston Texans S Tashaun Gibson.

Brett Coomer/Staff photographer

Both in life and fantasy football, there tend to be situations in which there's a clear cut, miles-ahead-of-the-rest favorite.

In other situations, there's a group of contenders that will provide a similar level of production, and choosing between them comes down to personal preference (ex. WRs). We will NOT be discussing one of those cases. Because in the case of choosing your top QB, there's only one right answer.

If I were being provocative, the title of this article might as well include "...and not Patrick Mahomes." The top tier fantasy QB conversation begins, escalates, and concludes with those two guys. I can't think of another year when a pair of QBs were ranked so consistently close together. Let alone a time when, depending on the writer, publication, and hour of the day, which one's ranked higher seemingly flip-flops with wild abandon. In overall rankings, they seem to never be more than five spots away from one another, and in more than a few they're literally side-by-side. So, who do you go with, and why is it Lamar Jackson? I'm here to explain.


I'm not going to try to convince anyone that Patrick Mahomes is bad or unworthy. It'd be a dumb and foolhardy exercise. Yet, the question must be asked: has he peaked, statistically? Probably, and let me tell you, what a peak it was: the highest scoring season for a fantasy quarterback, period. Joining the 50-TD-5,000-yard club, alongside it's only other member, Peyton Manning, will do that for you. But is something like that replicable? Well, let's look at last season.

Allow me to make my obvious caveat now, yes, Mahomes dislocated his knee! For those of you with iron-guts out there, it's quite easy to find the YouTube clip of a trainer popping it back into place. Yet, due to some weird superhuman quirk regarding his naturally loose ligaments, he missed only two games and, in his return, threw more passes and yards than in any other contest (50 attempts and 446 yards). His next two starts after that were letdowns, in which he tossed only one touchdown a game and couldn't top 200 yards in either. Lingering injury, rust, or strong defensive gameplans from division rivals? A mix of all three? Sure.

I say all that to say this, even with the most generous of projections for the 2.5ish games that Mahomes missed, he wasn't going to get within spitting distance of his record-breaking previous season. He played in 13.5 games, with totals of 4,031 yards, 26 TDs, and 5 interceptions. Not bad, but compared to the 16 games in which he racked up 5,097 yards and 50 TDs, it leaves you wanting. Just rounding up his stats from the game he was injured, and tacking on the averages from his MVP campaign brings us to 4,909 yards and 34 touchdowns. Even if we project that he wouldn't have added another pick in those games. Factoring in his rushing stats, and we can generously estimate that he would've clocked 365 points. Lamar still hung a full 50 burger over that number, despite sitting out Week 17.

While I do believe that Patrick Mahomes will outdo his numbers from last year, and it's less likely that Lamar will be able to outdo his, I'm confident that Jackson will remain the highest scoring QB in the league.

Lamar Jackson releases a strike downfield.Will Newton/Getty Images

First, we have to discuss Jackson's unparalleled ability to run the football. This aspect of his game is what makes him such a transcendent fantasy player, but he fares better without it than you might realize. He marshaled the most effective passing attack in the league last year by a

wide margin, as he matched Denver's starting back, Philip Lindsay, point for point. Erase his rushing numbers, and he'd still fall in the top half of fantasy quarterbacks with his 36 touchdowns and over 3,100 yards. Most impressively, he did all that on a team featuring a woefully ineffective set of wide receivers. His only consistent target was Marquise Brown, a rookie pass catcher, who struggled with lingering hip and foot injuries, while his scorching speed, the most valuable asset in his toolbox, was mostly underutilized. Remember that last bit.

We've already established that Lamar's legs make him special, but there's another way of looking at this. What his rushing attack actually provides is coverage for the errant off week. Every quarterback in the league will post a dud game for any number of reasons, Lamar not excluded. However, averaging 27 points a game means that a lot of things had to go right and, in this case, it meant some of Jackson's least impressive passing games could still lead to God Level fantasy performances. The three times he didn't throw a touchdown (against KC, CIN, SEA) he scored 21, 30, and 23 points, respectively.

An important thing to remember about the league's reigning MVP: his age. At 23 years old, he's still younger than the number one overall pick, Joe Burrow, and has plenty of room for improvement. His completion percentage skyrocketed last season after making simple mechanic changes and learning how to better read defenses. He's by no means a finished product, and one area of improvement is his deep ball. Generally, his accuracy on these passes were just about league average, much like the amount of times the running-heavy offense attempted such plays. Defenses will attempt to take away these gains first by crowding the box and the middle of the field, Lamar's preferred area of aerial attack, second, leaving wide open chunks of grass to the deep perimeters.

If he can begin to exploit defenses in this way next season, even in small doses, the floor of his production rises and it could keep his ceiling in a stratosphere occupied by a select few. This upgrade, along with the new wrinkles that Greg Roman, his Offensive Coordinator/Wizard, will be implementing to maximize Lamar's effectiveness will keep his stock trending upward (and beyond Mr. Mahomes).

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

Barry Gossage/Getty Images

In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

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Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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