LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Don’t let Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft or Rob Gronkowski know that I wrote this, but Lamar Jackson is ranked ahead of Tom Brady.

I just read it on Sports Illustrated’s web site.

Keep this on the down low, but ESPN reported the same news.

Ditto for Yahoo! Sports.

If that sounds like a fantasy, that’s because it is a fantasy — fantasy football quarterback rankings.

Experts at Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Yahoo! All ranked Jackson ahead of Brady in their latest collection of quarterback projections. Get your Ravens’ No. 8 jersey before they sell out.

Expect Jackson’s numbers to climb after the glowing words that Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh delivered about Jackson from training camp.

Listen to what Harbaugh said on the NFL Network about the guy who brought the Heisman Trophy to Louisville three seasons ago:

"If you look back and think of the history a little bit, the game was probably revolutionized with Bill Walsh and Joe Montana," Harbaugh said.

"And that's been the model for the last 25, 30 years, and we've all been chasing that model, pretty much, trying to find that quarterback, find that rhythm, and all the things that go with that offense, and it really hasn't changed too much.

"None of us can envision what's to come in the future. I don't know how many of the quarterbacks from the 60s or 70s would have been able to succeed. Not too many, probably.

“(Dan) Marino, I'm sure, could have played in any era, but a lot of those other guys would not have been great in the west-coast-offense-era.

“What's the next era going to be? Well, we're about to find out. We're about to find out what the limits are on that. I think it's going to open up opportunities for quarterbacks all across, and in our league, and it's going to make it tough on defenses. So, that's the idea."

That’s powerful praise for a quarterback who will begin his second professional season with 6 career TD passes, three interceptions and a 58 percent completion percentage. But Harbaugh has shaped the Ravens’ offense around Jackson and put a punctuation mark on the Joe Flacco Era in Baltimore.

Harbaugh is not the only guy gaga about Jackson. Former Ravens’ coach Brian Billick said that he expects Jackson to run the ball more than Cam Newton has rushed for the Carolina Panthers. Jackson had 147 carries last season, his first after departing the University of Louisville. Billick has advised taking the Over this season.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Billick said on the NFL Network. “I don’t think we know the exact numbers or the math.”

Translation: Lamar Jackson is going to run the football like the primary ball carrier on the Ravens’ roster and they’ll worry about the risk of injury later.

Fantasy football is not my specialty but Jackson was ranked the 17th best option at quarterback by Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Yahoo!

He’s not in the first tier with statistical monsters like Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City or the second tier with proven performers like Newton or Matt Ryan of the Falcons.

But because of his ability to run and contribute rushing touchdowns to a fantasy team, Jackson is ranked ahead of pure passers like Brady, Kirk Cousins of Minnesota and Philip Rivers of the Chargers by Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

That was a bizarre paragraph to type.

Yahoo! ranked Jackson ahead of Mitch Trubisky, who is expected to lead the Bears to the Super Bowl.

I retired from fantasy football in 2017 after winning a pair of WDRB titles. But I asked Brian Moore, our brilliant general manager and team personnel director, for his take on Jackson as fantasy quarterback in 2019.

“I’m not starting him but I’m picking him up in the later rounds as a high upside backup,” he said.

He said he would not draft a Baltimore running back because Jackson will be taking too many carriers. He also said that you have to balance the risk of Jackson getting injured against the rushing touchdowns he’ll deliver.

But even before Harbaugh and the Ravens decided to go All-In on Jackson, Kevin Hanson of Sports Illustrated calculated that Lamar scored the eighth-most fantasy points per game in the NFL over the seven weeks that he was the Ravens’ starter in 2018.

And Baltimore made the playoffs.

And Louisville’s offense floundered without him.

All eyes are on Lamar Jackson. Aren’t they always?

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