When it comes to quarterbacks in fantasy football, rushing QBs are king. Most leagues will use the default fantasy scoring of:
- 0.1 points per rushing yard
- 6 points per rushing TD
- 0.04 points per passing yard
- 4 points per passing TD
Naturally, as a result, mobile quarterbacks have an edge in fantasy football over pure pocket passers. Because of that edge, Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson will be 2 of the top 3 QBs in 2023. The way that they get there is 380 points, and both quarterbacks have a way to get there.
Every quarterback who has ever scored 380 points or more has been a top 3 quarterback except for one. The lone exception being Patrick Mahomes in 2020 when he was the QB4 scoring 380.3 points on the back of a season where he had 5,000+ total yards of offense and 40 touchdowns, with 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns coming through the air.
Lamar Jackson gets to the 380-point threshold thanks to Todd Monken and the best receiver group he has ever played with. I am projecting him to have a stat line of:
- 3,800 yards passing on 330/510
- 35 passing TDs
- 10 INTs
- 800 rushing yards on 135 attempts
- 6 rushing TDs
Mark Andrews, Zay Flowers, OBJ, and Rashod Bateman are a very solid receiver room. Mark Andrews is one of the league’s premier receiving TEs who is entering his prime. He is also getting to play in the same or a similar system that has given us two elite years from Brock Bowers. Bowers might very well be a top 3-5 player in his draft class in the next year or two. Early reports out of camp are that Jackson is already showing great chemistry with his revamped WR room.
The team leader for the Ravens in WR targets every year since Jackson has been in the league have been nothing special. Demarcus Robinson, Marquise Brown for 3 years, and 31-year-old Mike Crabtree. Marquise Brown is a decent NFL WR, but he is not a top WR1 by any means, and those were just the names of the WR1 in Baltimore.
The list of WR2s and WR3s that Lamar has played with doesn’t even compare to the trio he is playing with now. In addition to the faster pace of play, the Ravens have already come out and said they want to pass more. Last year, Jackson finished the year with 0.447 fantasy points per pass attempt. (Assuming the standard 0.04 points per passing yard, 4 points per passing TD and -2 points per INT.)
That was good for 11th amongst QBs who played in at least 10 games and was better than Trevor Lawrence, Aaron Rodgers, and Justin Herbert. That was a down year for him considering that it was lower than his career average of 0.493 fantasy points per pass attempt. Not bad for a running back.
It was 11th amongst quarterbacks who played in 10+ games, which is a good thing, but it was on a low passing volume as the Ravens were bottom 5 in the league in pass attempts. I am going to assume the improved offensive scheme, an improved receiver room, and faster pace of play will have him closer to his two career-high seasons of 0.522 and 0.641 fantasy points per pass attempt. If he ends up close to the projection I made for him, he would score 0.533 points per pass this year, which is not unreasonable if he gets back to his MVP form.
Jackson the runner
Looking at Jackson the runner, there is reason for optimism. Even if he sees a decrease in attempts per game due to his efficiency. JK Dobbins wants to get paid, and even if he doesn’t, he hasn’t been healthy for a significant portion of his career. Gus Edwards is coming off of an injury that doesn’t bode well for RBs, and the recent free-agent signing of Melvin Gordon doesn’t move the needle for me much, if at all, for fantasy purposes.
That trio of RBs will probably be a committee between the 20s but in the red zone. But towards the goal line, I expect Jackson to be a threat. Todd Monken showed last year he is willing to use his QB at the goal line as Stetson Bennett was tied for 1st on the Georgia Bulldogs national championship team with 10 rushing touchdowns.
With 3 seasons above 0.8 fantasy points per rush attempt and a running back room in limbo, it is not unreasonable to expect Lamar to hit the 125-145 rush attempt threshold. He would need to get around 110 points from running and get him to the 380-point mark.
That equates to 7.4-8.5 rush attempts per game. Which is significantly lower than his career average of 10.4 carries per game. Assuming the Ravens do increase their overall passing volume, thus decreasing the overall rushing volume, it is safe to assume that Jackson will continue to get around the 8 carries per game mark he would need. If he ends up close to the projection I made for him, he would score 0.8 points per rush attempt this year, which is a number he has hit more times than not in his career.
Justin Fields’ path to 380 looks a little different than Jackson’s. His rookie year, he averaged 0.75 fantasy points per rush, and last year he increased that to an astounding 1.01 fantasy points per rush, while also increasing his rushing attempts per game from 6 to 10.5. Similarly to Jackson and the Ravens, the Bears RB room is somewhat of an unknown.
Can Khalil Herbert be their RB1? Do they even want him to be with the signing of D’Onta Foreman and drafting of Roschon Johnson? How will Foreman and Johnson fit in with Herbert and what will the touch split look like? There are simply too many unknowns for us to know now how it will all shake out.
The one known of the Bears’ rushing offense is that Justin Fields is capable of being a 1,000 yard rusher. Even with the running backs getting 370 carries themselves last year. The addition of DJ Moore should decrease his usage as a runner slightly- as he hopefully won’t have to scramble as much. The addition of DJ Moore also means teams will have to respect the passing game of the Bears more than either of Fields’ first two years. Which, in theory, opens up running lanes a little more.
I am projecting him to run for around 8.5 attempts per game, which equates to around 140 attempts on the year. 140 attempts at a rate of 0.95 fantasy points per attempt is 135 fantasy points from rushing, which means he needs to get 245 fantasy points from passing.
Fields the passer
We’ve seen it the last several years as running quarterbacks get a great WR1 and it takes their game, both in the NFL and in fantasy, to new heights. Josh Allen got Stefon Diggs, Kyler Murray got DeAndre Hopkins, Jalen Hurts got AJ Brown, and now Justin Fields gets DJ Moore. DJ Moore is in a tier below those other three, but he is an extremely talented receiver who has been held back in his own right by dismal QB play.
The addition of DJ Moore means that Darnell Mooney gets to slot into the offense as the WR2 role, which he is much better suited for. It also means less attention on Cole Kmet, who is looking to build off of the career year he had last year. Looking at Allen, Murray and Hurts, who were all year 2 or 3 in the NFL for the QBs, the year before they got their elite WR1 and the first year they had their elite WR1, you would see a significant jump in fantasy points per pass attempt.
Impact of Adding WR1
|Season before WR
|Season after WR
|0.403 points per attempt
|0.542 pts per att
|0.378 pts per att
|0.428 pts per att
|0.398 pts per att
|0.487 pts per att
Between the three of them, we saw an average increase of 23% in fantasy points per pass attempt from pre-elite WR1 to year 1 of elite WR1. One of the most encouraging things about Justin Fields is his pre-elite WR1 fantasy points per game is higher than all of the other 3 Konami Code QBs we looked at with 0.427 fantasy points per pass attempt.
Since DJ Moore is not as good as the other three WRs, we will assume an increase of 20% in fantasy points per pass attempt, which would equate to him scoring 0.512 fantasy points per pass attempt, which would have been good for a top 5 finish amongst qualifying QBs last year.
The math works out that Fields would need 480 pass attempts at 0.512 fantasy points per pass attempt to get to 245 points from passing. The scoring efficiency seems to be there, and it is now a matter of volume. Simply because without volume, the efficiency doesn’t really matter for the sake of making a case about Fields as a top 3 QB. The passing volume was historically low for the Bears last year, but he can get to 480 pass attempts with just 28 pass attempts per game, which was something 28 out of the 31 other teams in the NFL accomplished last year.
Jackson & Fields – Rushing QBs are King
One of the best things about both Fields and Lamar is they are the cheapest of the group of 5-6 QBs who can finish as the overall QB1. Lamar is going in the late 3rd/early 4th round and Fields is going in the mid-late 4th, based off of current ADP. That provides a much better opportunity cost compared to Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, and Burrow, who are all going in the first 3 rounds currently.
By waiting until the 4th round to target one of Lamar or Fields, that allows managers to focus on building a solid core of 1-2 WRs and 1-2 RBs. A start from the 1.02 could look something like CMC, Waddle, and Chris Olave. All three of those have top 10 potential at their respective positions and provides a solid foundation for the rest of the roster, compared to taking Allen or Hurts at the 2/3 turn and having someone like Amari Cooper or Terry McLaurin or Dameon Pierce be the 3rd position player in a team’s lineup. A start from the 1.08 could look like Tyreek Hill, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Joe Mixon. Tyreek will be in the WR1 conversation, while St. Brown and Mixon both are looking to have solid top 10-12 seasons at their respective positions. Waiting until the 4th, or possibly even 5th, round to take an “early QB” will prove optimal this season.
Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan – USA TODAY Sports