Patrick Mahomes vs Lamar Jackson: Who Should Be QB1 in Fantasy Football?

Jen Piacenti makes the case for Lamar Jackson to be drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes in fantasy football leagues
Jan 28, 2024; NFL MVP Lamar Jackson
Jan 28, 2024; NFL MVP Lamar Jackson / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, NFL schedule makers, you are good. 

Of course, we wanted to see Jackson vs. Mahomes at the season opener. Super Bowl MVP vs. regular-season MVP? Sign me up.

All this hype about the Ravens/Chiefs matchup has got me thinking. 

Fantasy analysts and managers: we may have a case of recency bias. Maybe it's a Taylor Swift hangover. 

Why is Patrick Mahomes coming off the board before Lamar Jackson in fantasy football drafts?

Take a quick look at any industry rankings list, and you'll see Mahomes is consistently ranked above Lamar and often as high as the QB1 overall. Even our fantasy expert, Michael Fabiano, has Mahomes ahead of Lamar. Do you know how frequently I had to talk Fabiano off a ledge last year about Mahomes being such a bust? I am beginning to suspect Fabiano may be a secret Swiftie. 

Feb 11, 2024; Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes
Feb 11, 2024; Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is not to say Mahomes isn't an excellent pick for your fantasy team. Mahomes could easily finish as the QB1 overall. We've seen him be incredibly dominant, and this year he has even more weapons, with Hollywood Brown and deep-threat rookie Xavier Worthy being added to the mix. If Mahomes is your guy, get your guy! 

But here are a few things to consider.

Mahomes led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl and put up an excellent performance in that game. In the Super Bowl, Mahomes tallied 26 PPR points. That memory is very fresh for all of us. 

However, here are the PPR points he scored in his other postseason matchups: 18.5, 18.5, and 15. 

Those aren't QB1 numbers. 

For once in his career, Mahomes has had to play less hero ball. The Chiefs had the second-best defense in the league last season, which allowed only 17.3 points per game, and Mahomes didn't have to put up his ususal video-game stats. The emergence of Isiah Pacheco also gave the Chiefs more of a run-game identity. Overall, the Chiefs are a more complete team. It's great for Kansas City but possibly not as great for fantasy. In addition, the AFC West is one of the weaker divisions, and the potential for shootouts looks to be more limited.

For 2023, Mahomes finished as fantasy football's QB8 overall, and just QB14 in fantasy points per game. Mahomes managers probably remember the tough nine-game stretch to end the season. Mahomes finished with more than 20 points in only one of those games, and he bottomed out with a mere 5.6 points in Week 8 against the Broncos.

Now, yes, the receiving corps was awful last season, so we can expect more this year. Still, it's worth remembering that Mahomes is coming off a 2023 season that saw him post career-low marks in passing yards per game, passing yards per attempt, and TD% while also throwing a career-high 14 interceptions. 

So, that now brings me to Lamar Jackson.

Jan 28, 2024;Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8)
Jan 28, 2024;Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There's a reason Lamar won the MVP award. Jackson ran for 821 yards and five rushing touchdowns while also throwing for 3,678 yards with a 102.7 passer rating and 24 touchdowns through the air. Jackson combined for 29 total touchdowns — two more than Patrick Mahomes. 

As a fantasy quarterback, Jackson finished QB4 overall and QB3 on a per-game basis, with an average of 20.7 PPR points per game. If you include the postseason, those numbers would be even higher. Lamar scored 27 PPR points per game in his two postseason matchups. 

Lamar has trimmed down in the off-season, and with the threat of Derrick Henry in the run game, we should continue to see Jackson use his wheels. As a passer, he should only continue to thrive with a healthy Mark Andrews and Zay Flowers. That should add up to plenty of fantasy success. 

So, why the disrespect for the reigning NFL MVP? I love Patrick Mahomes, but If I'm on the clock ahead of you, you know who I'll be taking.

Jennifer Piacenti


In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.