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).

DMX on the Madison Square Garden marquee

Madison Square Garden

For many managers, their playoff prospects are dark and hot as hell heading into the final week of the fantasy basketball regular season.

But before you can compete to be grand champ, you need to stop, drop, shut your duds down and open up the waiver wire for your last gasp this regular season. Here are some names you should be looking for to give you that push you need.

Rest in peace, DMX.

Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

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