Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had a historic 2019 season. Although if you didn't have him or tight end Mark Andrews, you didn't get to bask in their collective success. Third-round draft pick and former Texas speedster Devin Duvernay joins a Baltimore team looking to run it back this season with dreams of a Super Bowl run. Can the rookie receiver make an immediate fantasy impact on himself and Jackson?
Jackson finished as the No. 2 overall scorer in fantasy last season with an average of 28.2 fantasy points per game, behind only Christian McCaffrey. That was a whopping six points per game more than the QB2 (Deshaun Watson). For context, six fantasy points per game were the difference between RB2 Dalvin Cook and RB14 Todd Gurley and the difference between WR2 Chris Godwin and WR28 Terry McLaurin. Yet, that all happened with no wide receiver ranking in the top 40.
One could argue that Andrews should count as a receiver for fantasy purposes. If Andrews were a wide receiver, he would've ranked tied for the 27th-highest scoring player at the position. He'd be outside the top 30 if you included other tight ends in that group. Marquise Brown (11.0 points) finished as the WR49 on a points-per-game basis and the WR44 overall. Willie Snead (6.0 points) was next, ranking as the WR83 on a points-per-game basis and WR75 overall.
That's all to say that Jackson had plenty of fantasy success with no top-30 option at his disposal. Rushing yards and touchdowns had a massive part in Jackson's scoring totals, but there's still room for him to grow in the passing game if others step up around him. That's where Duvernay comes in.
The 22-year-old has tremendous straight-line speed, really reliable hands, and is a RAC monster. The problem is, that concludes all the things Duvernay does well. He's a work in progress to become a polished receiver, but he can impact a few areas of the game right away, as described by RavenCountry reporter Todd Karpovich.
"Duvernay, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, provides Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson with another sure-handed weapon that can play outside, inside, in motion, with runs, twitch routes, or out of the backfield."
The rookie, plus a returning Andrews and a healthy Brown, should give Jackson plenty of weapons to work with this season as he tries to build on his MVP season and repeat as the QB1 in fantasy. He even has some room for regression too.
For example, if Jackson's passing touchdown rate dropped from 9% to league average, he still would've been the QB1 in 2019. If you dropped his passing touchdown total from 36 to 19 and his rushing total from 1,206 yards to 983 yards, he still would've been the QB1 last season. The hope is the added weapons will ease any potential regression.
So, where does that leave things for fantasy managers? Jackson is still the choice to be the top quarterback drafted. Duvernay is an intriguing WR7 that's better suited for best-ball formats than redraft leagues. He could have some big games, but you'll never know when they're coming. Jackson, Andrews, and Brown are the only Ravens (excluding their running backs) you want to own in 12-team leagues heading into the 2020 season.
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