Lamar Jackson, Michael Crabtree, More Fantasy Outlook After Joe Flacco's Injury

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 18, 2018

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 09: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams during a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 9, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Fantasy owners will get a look at the future of the Baltimore Ravens as Lamar Jackson prepares to take over at quarterback after Joe Flacco's injury. 

Flacco was announced as inactive for Sunday's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

This has been a moderately successful comeback season for Flacco after his disappointing 2017 when he threw for 3,141 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Super Bowl XLVII MVP has thrown 12 touchdowns with just six interceptions through nine games this year. 

Jackson is an intriguing fantasy quarterback because of his versatility in and out of the pocket. His accuracy as a passer could be the biggest hindrance to him having immediate success. 

B/R's Matt Miller noted in his scouting report for Jackson that he needs to "rework his setup and better drive the ball with his legs to improve his accuracy," and his tape showed an inability to "fit the ball consistently into tight windows up the seam."

Pro Football Focus' Scott Barrett noted before this season began there has been one superstar quarterback who has thrived in fantasy despite not being the most dynamic passer.

"Over the last two seasons, among 32 qualifying quarterbacks, Cam Newton ranked first in rushing attempts per game, 25th in passing yards per game, 30th in passer rating, and fifth in total fantasy points," Barrett wrote.

The Ravens have found ways to incorporate Jackson into their offense without doing much passing. He ranks second on the team with 139 rushing yards and scored his first touchdown in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints

As long as Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg design a scheme that emphasizes quick, high-percentage passes without going through a lot of progressions, Jackson will have immediate success throwing the ball.

There's little doubt about Jackson's ability to torment defenses with his legs.  

The coaching staff will eventually have to open up the playbook for Jackson to be a great quarterback. His fantasy value is going to come mostly from his ability to extend plays, but there's definitely upside worth investing in. 

At this point, the best course of action is stashing Jackson on your roster as he gets acclimated. If you play in a two-quarterback league, there's not much risk putting him in the lineup. 

The outlook for Michael Crabtree shouldn't change significantly. It might be difficult to find him on the waiver wire since he's owned in 72 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues. He does lead the team in targets (76), and he is second with 41 receptions and tied for second with two touchdowns. 

The 31-year-old is on pace to receive at least 100 targets for the fifth straight year. He's not a big-play threat, but his ability to make plays in short-yardage situations does make him Jackson's safety net underneath. 

Regardless of who the Ravens quarterback is, they will continue to throw the ball because their running backs average 3.6 yards per carry. Crabtree will still be a valuable PPR receiver because of the volume of passes that will come his way. 

John Brown has had a terrific bounce-back performance in his first season with the Ravens. The 28-year-old is averaging 66.8 yards per game and a career-high 17.7 yards per reception this season. 

Flacco's injury is particularly problematic for Brown's fantasy value. His game is built on speed and running past defenders to create big plays

Jackson's accuracy on deep throws is one of the biggest questions he has to answer. This seems like it will lead to a lot of throws underneath and checking down to running backs when he doesn't pull the ball down. 

Brown, who is currently owned in 79 percent of Yahoo leagues, goes from a No. 2 fantasy receiver to borderline flex option until Jackson shows what he can do as a quarterback. Too much uncertainty with Jackson's passing skills makes it hard to justify playing the speedy wideout right now.