25 QB Statistics from 2020 (Fantasy Football)

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For the fifth year in a row, our 25 Statistics series recaps each position with some of the most meaningful and eye-popping statistics of the year. My goal is to start by giving the broad scope of QB scoring, work through the elite tier of QBs (Aaron Rodgers and company) before finding the odd and quirky 2020 stats that might help reframe and give context to a number of questionable signal-callers.

Stayed tuned as the TRUTH podcast episodes roll on to QBs this next week!

Note: All scoring is 4-point standard QB scoring per the Ballers Consistency Charts found at JointheFoot.com.

1. 2020 finally saw the total number of QB1s on the season drop below the 40-mark. There were 38 different QBs who registered a top-12 performance this year including some unlikely fellows such as Brandon Allen, Marcus Mariota, and Nick Mullens. Why did we see a slight drop off in that 40+ number? In 2020, the number of starting QBs who missed 5+ games due to injury was basically Dak Prescott and Jimmy Garoppolo. Other than that, we had a relatively healthy year for QBs compared to 2019 when Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton were out within the first week.

2. QB scoring as a whole was up in 2020 compared to the previous year. A total of 74 more passing TDs were thrown despite only 154 more attempts. The efficiency went from a TD rate of 4.4 percent to 4.8 percent across the board.

3. What made Aaron Rodgers so dang successful was the Packers’ utilization of throwing in the red-zone tallying 35(!) passing TDs. That tied Patrick Mahomes‘ 2018 campaign for most inside the RZ over the last five years of data. Rodgers completed a league-high 73 percent in that money territory. Davante Adams balled out and Robert “TD” Tonyan likely had the best season of his career thanks to that emphasis in close.

4a. Rodgers had 12(!) games of three or more passing TDs. If you search through his game logs, he never had back-to-back weeks where he didn’t throw three TDs. He had seven games of four passing TDs, tying Patrick Mahomes‘ 2018 season for 2nd most in a season behind only Peyton Manning’s record nine games of 4+ passing TDs in 2013.

4b. Ok, I had to sneak in one more Rodgers stat for you. For the 3rd year in a row, Rodgers’ pass-catchers were top-5 in Yards after the Catch. In 2020, they led the league in this category with 53 percent of his yards coming after his receivers had the ball. That is the highest percentage of Rodgers’ career.

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5. Kyler Murray deserves so much praise for delivering on the hype he was given by the fantasy community before the season. He’s the only QB in league history to throw for 3,500 passing yards and run for 800+ yards in the same season. Murray has the 2nd most total offensive yards (passing + rushing) ever through two seasons behind only Cam Newton. Murray held the QB1 spot from Weeks 1-16 before Josh Allen wrestled it away at the end.

6. Speaking of the likely MVP runner-up, Allen had seven top-3 finishes, most among QBs in 2020. His 45 total TDs were 16 more than his previous career-high. Only three QBs in NFL history have thrown for 4,000+ yards and rushed 100+ times in a season: Cam Newton his rookie year in 2011, Russell Wilson in 2015, and now, Josh Allen.

7. What made Allen almost bulletproof this season was how he responded to the blitz. He faced more blitzes (244) than anyone in the NFL yet his sack rate was tied for 9th lowest in the NFL. The jump in completion percentage (from 58 to 69 percent) is receiving the most attention in the playoffs but the Bills offensive scheme as a whole just decided to go all-in on the 3rd year QB. Buffalo had the highest rate of 3-WR sets (90%) in the NFL and the most passing 1st downs in the NFL.

Completion % Passing TDs Passing 1st Downs Rank
Net Yards per Attempt
2019 32nd 23rd 20th 21st
2020 4th 5th 1st 4th

8. It felt like Patrick Mahomes almost fell under the radar this year in fantasy but he was still off the charts. He tied Rodgers in INT rate (1.0 %) and led the league with 316 passing yards per game. Since 2018, Mahomes has been a QB1 34 times out of 45 starts, an insane 75 percent!

9. I see a trend people… Thomas Edward Brady led the league in Air Yards (5,539) at the age of 43. Last year, our guy Jameis Winston threw caution to wind en route to a 30-30 season totaling a monster 6,486 Air Yards. Chalk that up all that downfield love to Bruce Arians. Not to be outdone, but Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for a league-leading 6,625 Air Yards in 2018 before Arians even showed up. Brady’s 36 completions on passes traveling 20+ yards downfield also led the league.

10. As J.J. Zachriason pointed out on Twitter, we saw a massive surge of rushing TDs from QBs this year topping out at a record 126 from the QB position. 20 different QBs had three or more rushing TDs compared to 12 in 2019. Even more alarming is the fact nine different QBs had five or more rushing TDs while 2019 produced only three had more than four rushing TDs.

11. Lamar Jackson was the cover boy for this article last year as he rewrote the record book as league and fantasy MVP. After finishing with 1,005 rushing yards, he now owns two of the top-3 QB rushing seasons of all-time. So how did he only finish as the QB10? That’s the lowest fantasy finish for a QB with 600+ rushing yards since Tim Tebow was the QB19 in 2011. On the ground, Lamar averaged only 13 fewer yards per game, had the same amount of rushing TDs (7), and less than half a yard per carry difference from his historic 2019 season.

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Rush Att. Per Game Rush TDs <200 yard Passing Games Games w/ 3 or More Passing TDs
2019 11.7 7 6 8
2020 10.6 7 12 3

Lamar had 12(!) games under 200 passing yards and only three games of 3+ passing TDs. In 2019, he had only six games sub 200 yards and eight games of 3+ passing TDs. He had six games outside the top-15… as many as Cam Newton and Carson Wentz. Yikes.

12. Just how good was Justin Herbert? You probably know he blew away the rookie passing TDs record set by Baker Mayfield finishing with 31 through the air. He also set the rookie record for completion percentage (66.5) for any QB with 500+ pass attempts. He had the lowest INT rate and highest TD rate of that group as well.

Getty Images / Matthew Stockman

13. But maybe what is most amazing is how the rookie performed on 3rd down. Herbert paced the league with 15 passing TDs on 3rd down. On plays of 3-and-7+ yards, he averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and a QB Rating of 121 on the season. He was basically game script-proof completing exactly 66 percent of his passes whether the situation was leading, tied, or trailing. He’s the only player in the league to have zero variance in all three scenarios.

14. Deshaun Watson finished with the passing yards crown totaling 4,823 at 8.9 yards per pass attempt. His 544 pass attempts were the fewest for a league leader since 2011 when Pee River himself (Philip Rivers) finished with 4,710 passing yards on just 541 attempts. Watson is the subject of many trade rumors but what isn’t in doubt is the fact that he’s a competitor despite a season flushed down the toilet due to Bill O’Brien. After BOB’s departure following an 0-4 start, Watson was the QB1 the rest of the way averaging 25 fantasy points per contest.

15. If you finally noticed in their playoff loss to the Browns, Ben Roethlisberger had to be protected all year long. With the running game in shambles, he threw only one play-action passing TD all year long. He had 459 dropbacks of less than 2.5 seconds in the pocket masking an inefficient offensive line. That total is slightly less than what Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield had… combined. The next highest was Tom Brady at 344 dropbacks of less than 2.5 seconds.

16a. Did Russell Wilson somehow have the most disappointing 40-TD fantasy season ever? We’ve seen 16 different QB seasons of 40+ passing TDs… Wilson’s had the fewest passing yards per game, lowest yards per completion, and most sacks taken. Apart from adding 513 rushing yards and two scores on the ground, if you asked anyone who played him in the second half of the season, they likely were steaming mad.

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Weeks 1-9 Weeks 10-17
2019 QB1 QB20
2020 QB2 QB16

For the second year in a row, Week 10 was a cliff for Wilson fantasy managers. He was the QB2 in points per game from Weeks 1-9 but QB16 from Week 10 on. One of the keys to Wilson’s early success was play-action. He had the highest completion percentage (74.3) on those plays in the league.

17. Was he a QB or a TE or basically a mix of both? Taysom Hill had a solid stretch from Weeks 11-14 when he was the QB6 with finishes of QB4, 11, 8, and 11. He also finished with the highest adjusted completion percentage (82.6) in the NFL to go along with eight red-zone rushing TDs. Hill was one of five players to throw, rush, and catch a TD in 2020 joining Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, Jarvis Landry, and Cam Newton.

18. Speaking of Newton, before a Week 17 explosion he was sitting on five passing TDs for the season. But eight passing TDs is the 3rd fewest ever for a QB who started 15 games! To put that number in perspective, Newton finished with the same number of passing TDs as all the slot WRs in the NFL. Jakobi Meyers, Cole Beasley, Jarvis Landry, Jamison Crowder, Cedrick Wilson, Russell Gage, and Isaiah McKenzie had eight combined passing TDs! Newton still finished with 12 rushing TDs (2nd most of his career) en route to eight QB1 performances, as many as Ryan Tannehill who finished as the QB7.

19. From Weeks 10 on, Kirk Cousins was the QB3 with six QB1 performances out of his last eight games. But it felt like no-one was paying attention with the Vikings out of the playoff picture. Captain Kirk set career-highs in passing TDs (35) and TD rate (6.9) but only QB11 on the season; it felt like a fantasy season out of place as that passing TD total would’ve ranked second in the NFL in 2019. In fact, Cousins’ fantasy finish is the lowest ever for a QB with 35+ passing TDs.

20. Matt Ryan led the league in completions for the second year in a row but also in “interceptable” passes with 38 although he ended with just 11.  He also paced the league in pass attempts with 626 but managed only 26 passing TDs, which has been his bugaboo in his career. That total is the lowest for the pass attempts leader since Matthew Stafford set the NFL record with 727(!) but managed only 20 TDs in 2013. #MattStats

21. What do you get when you create a Frankenstein monster of Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert? You get a Dallas Cowboys QB group that threw for the 2nd most pass attempts (636), 7th most passing yards (4,487), and a top-15 fantasy conglomeration. In other words, this hodge-podge outproduced other notable QBs such as Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford on the season.

22. Colts QBs ended the season with 11 total rushing yards, dead last in the NFL. Between Philip Rivers and goal-line vultures from Jacoby Brissett, that was the lowest total by a QB since Rivers went for a cool nine total yards in 2018. Heck, let’s look at Rivers over the last six years and his lack of mobility.

QB Rushing Yards NFL Rank
2020 11 32nd
2019 36 30th
2018 9 32nd
2017 -11 32nd
2016 32 28th
2015 27 29th

23. Drew Lock aka Mr. Irresponsible led the league in INTs and percentage of “bad throws” at 22.9 percent. He also had the highest percentage (16%) of attempts 20+ yards downfield with a league-leading seven INTs on deep throws. Give the guy some credit: he thought he could be Brett Favre. But for fantasy, he still had four weeks as a top-10 QB, as many as Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and one fewer than Baker Mayfield.

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24. Only three teams failed to have a QB surpass 300 yards passing in a single game this year: the Ravens and both New York teams. The Giants and Daniel Jones were arguably the least efficient passing team in the league averaging only 10.3 yards per completion and only 12 total passing TDs. The Jets had one QB1 performance all season long and Sam Darnold had a league-worst 37.8 percent completion rate in the red-zone.

25. For all of the turmoil Carson Wentz faced this season, he was the QB7 for the first seven weeks of the season and a viable every week start. But you know the rest of the story, as he crashed and burned into losing his job to Jalen Hurts. But the Eagles QB group finished as the QB12 in total scoring and the only team other than the Cardinals to have 3,500 yards passing and more than 525+ rushing yards at the QB position. The Eagles QB group finished with 645 rushing yards (3rd best) and eight rushing TDs (tied for 4th best). If you were to only consider Philadelphia QB production as runners, Eagles QBs would’ve been a top-36 RB in standard leagues (112.5 fantasy points) despite zero receiving production. That is more points than Austin Ekeler on the season.

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