If you don’t play The Lottery … you can’t win The Lottery

Chargers running back Justin Jackson may be due for a breakout season.

It’s one of The Czar’s favorite things to do in Fantasy Football – find the guy who is so far under the radar that he’s a submarine, be patient with him, and then…. watch him become an absolute STUD! And it happens…. infrequently. Like, not often.

Maybe once or twice every couple of years. But, it does happen. And when it does, it’s rewarding, leads to fantasy wins, and perhaps, fantasy championships. Uncovering those winning Lottery Tickets is really more of a Dynasty League thing where you can let a situation ferment for a few seasons, but even if it’s a seasonal league, a lottery ticket pick in the late rounds can payoff.

Grab a guy who has ability and opportunity, is in a good spot, be patient (have we mentioned, be patient?), and then keep your fingers crossed. But as the headline implies, you can’t win The Lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. So with that in mind, Lottery Tickets for 2020!

JUSTIN JACKSON – RB/LAC

A year ago, Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram had this to say about Jackson – “He’s definitely an elite back. His vision, you can’t coach what he has. Man, his vision. His vision and the way he runs the ball is great. It’s amazing how he can see stuff in a split-second,” per the Orange County Register.

Jackson’s backfield pal Austin Ekelar told ESPN, “He’s a creative runner, a unique runner. There aren’t many people I’ve seen, in general, that run like he does. Like I tell him, he’s got that razzle-dazzle, some hocus-pocus [laughs] — I make up all these different things. That’s how he runs, and that’s how I’d describe his runs because you really don’t know what he’s going to do.”

In 2019, Jackson averaged 6.9 yards per carry (highest of any back with at least 200 yards) on 29 carries for 200 yards. Most of the carries and yardage came during Melvin Gordon’s holdout and before an ankle injury. Jackson rushed for at least 1,187 yards in each of his four seasons at Northwestern, and scored 42 touchdowns.

Yes, Austin Ekelar is getting all the preseason hype, and appears to be in line to get most of the work vacated by Gordon. But Jackson will have opportunities, and if he does what he’s always done, he’ll produce. He could end up with a significant role, and big numbers, in the Charger offense.

JERICK McKINNON – RB/SF

In 2017, Pro Football Focus ranked McKinnon as the NFL’s 8th best running back, with an 84.6 overall grade, including a 82.4 receiving grade. McKinnon turned that into a 4-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, then he tore his ACL right before the start of the 2018 season.

In two-years with the Niners, McKinnon made $15.5 million, and didn’t play a snap. He missed the last two seasons. But he agreed to a restructured deal with the Niners for 2020, and Kyle Shanahan didn’t want McKinnon back just because he’s a swell fella. He has plans for McKinnon, just like he did before the ACL. And we all know what Shanahan can do with a running game, and running backs (see Raheem Mostert). Need something more to think about?

This from 49er fullback Kyle Juszczyk on McKinnon – “Jet has looked phenomenal. You just would never guess, going out there, and watching the way he practices, how smooth he is, how he doesn’t second guess himself, how quickly he answers questions in meetings, all that kind of stuff, you would never guess that this guy hasn’t been on the field for two years. He just makes things look so natural, so smooth, that I think there can only be positive things for him this year. I think he’s going to have a really good year.” The Czar agrees.

BRYCE LOVE – RB/WASH

Ability and opportunity! And thanks to time, rehab, and Derrius Guice, Bryce Love now finds himself with both in Washington. Love rushed for 2,118 rushing yards in his junior season at Stanford, and finished 2nd in the Heisman voting. But he skipped the NFL draft and returned to school for his senior season.

Commendable – along with dreaming to play in the NFL Love also wants to become a pediatrician – but oops. For a number of reasons, he had a down senior season, then tore his ACL in his final college game, and spent all of his rookie season in Washington rehabbing his knee. But Guice has been released, and Adrian Peterson is 35. If Love can find what he once had in college, he could be really good in Washington for years to come.

TAJAE SHARPE – WR/MINN

Sharpe looked quite promising as a rookie in Tennessee in 2016 – 41 catches for 522 yards. He followed it up by catching 26 and 25 passes the next two seasons. So much for promise – at least in Tennessee.

But the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs to Buffalo, and though the Vikings drafted Justin Jefferson, there could be an opportunity for Sharpe to carve out a key role in the offense. Kirk Cousins will throw it a lot, and Sharpe can catch it, we think. He led the nation with 111 catches at UMass his senior season.