Shocking Stats from the 2021 Fantasy Football Season

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Each February, the Fantasy Footballers put together a list of shocking stats from the previous season to tantalize, to stimulate the senses, and, above all else, to make you question if this whole thing was made up.

This article is a recap from the Shocking Stats from 2021 episode and a dive deeper into some of the notes from our “Show Doc”.

1. A Viking Funeral

According to a 2021 Mayo Clinic research study, Minnesota had the lowest age-adjusted heart disease mortality of any state in the U.S. If you are a Minnesota Vikings fan, your heart rate on Sundays likely skyrocketed in 2021. 

The Vikings played in ONE-SCORE games in 14 of their first 15 gamesThat ties the all-time record for one-possession games in a season, set by the Giants in 1994 and the Ravens in 2015. Minnesota went 6-8 in those one-score games and 6-5 in 2020.

Jason stated that Minnesota looks like a team on the downturn even after hiring former Rams OC Kevin O’ Connell as their new head coach. This is the final year Kirk Cousins is under contract. Adam Thielen turns 32. Yes, Justin Jefferson is going to dominate but it’s hard projecting Minnesota as a top-tier team in the NFC with all of their changes.

2. Livin’ Life Inside the 5

Here are a few inside the 5-yard line RB statistics that jumped out from 2021.

  • Dalvin Cook (a red-zone dominator in 2020) had 15 carries inside the 5. Only three turned into rush TDs.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who struggled in 2020 here) had four opportunities inside the 5. All 4 were TDs.
  • In Week 12 vs IND, Leonard Fournette had 19.9 fantasy pts inside the 5. That was the most fantasy points scored by an RB inside the 5 in a single game over the last five years.
  • Christian McCaffrey had fewer yards than Brooks inside the 5. (3 attempts, -2 yards, 0 TDs)

On the podcast, the guys discussed whether “inside the 5” success rate is a sticky stat? Is it skill? Ultimately, all we care about is volume. Players like Cook should bounce back in 2022.

3. Hurts So Good

In 19 career starts, Jalen Hurts is averaging 8.82 rushing fantasy points per game. This only accounts for what he does as a runner. For context, through his 49 career starts, the best-rushing-QB-of-all-time Lamar Jackson is at 8.6. Hurts had five games in 2021 with 13+ fantasy pts via the ground. That was more than Joe Mixon (the RB3) OR Najee Harris (RB4) had if you only accounting for what they did on the ground/no receiving.

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Ten rushing TDs are likely not repeatable. When you consider 37% of his fantasy production came on the ground, he can certainly improve on the 16 passing TDs he threw. As a passer, he scored 215 fantasy points, the same exact points Teddy Bridgewater had via the air. But Hurts feels among the safest QBs you could take in 2022 likely near the QB8-10 range. 

4. Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? 

Despite leading the NFL in total points scored (30.4 ppg), ALL of the Dallas Cowboys starters in fantasy drafts FAILED to return their draft cost in 2021

The most deceiving part of the scoring statistic is that Dallas’ defense scored six times on the year, another number that is certainly unrepeatable and hard to project. 227 targets up for grabs (as seen in our Team Opportunity report in the Dynasty Pass) as Michael Gallup (62), Cedrick Wilson (61) & Dalton Schultz (104) are free agents.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

5. Graham-Pa’s Last Hurrah

Bears 2nd Year TE Cole Kmet became the 1st TE in NFL history to see 90+ targets and NOT score a receiving TD. Not good. Jimmy Graham-pa had three rec TDs on 14 receptions, costing Jason’s kids their shot at college 

There are a number of encouraging metrics as Cole Kmet saw a major increase in usage in 2021. He saw 83 percent of Chicago’s offensive snaps on the season, up from 56% in 2020. He finished tied for 8th among all TEs with 93 targets. He ran the 8th MOST TE routes including more slot snaps than Kyle Pitts. The Footballers agreed that Kmet could be a sneaky buy-low in dynasty and a late-round TE target in 2022. 

6. Throweth the Raven (much) More 

The Ravens offense transformed from being DEAD LAST in total pass attempts (405) in 2020 to ranking 9th with 610 attempts on the year. It is the biggest year-to-year pass attempt jump over the last 20 years! Lamar’s injury at the end of the year gets the headlines but he had nine games of 30+ pass attempts in 2021. To compare, he had seven total through his 1st three years in the league!

In the past, Baltimore was seen as a small passing pie offense. We loved the weapons but worried if there was enough to go around for everyone. There is probably a happy middle ground of projecting their volume moving forward but Mark Andrews clearly leveled up as a target machine. 145 doesn’t feel repeatable for Marquise Brown. The biggest part of the puzzle is the return of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards and how much the team will lean on the running game. 

Bonus Stats

Super Kamari-ut Oh

Alvin Kamara was not the difference-maker for fantasy you hoped for in 2021. He scored four rushing TDs on the year. That was one every 60 carries. For the first four years of his career, he averaged a rushing TD every 15.6 carries.  Alvin Kamara tied for 2nd fewest rushing TDs (4) among RBs with 240+ carries since 2010Frank Gore “dominated” that dubious list for a while (2014-2017). Among those 125 RBs over the last decade, the TD expectation for 240+ carries was 8.8 rush TDs.

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Kamara has been a TD machine in his career with the 3rd MOST total TDs (59) through an RBs 1st four seasons in NFL history. It’s one fewer TD than LaDainian Tomlinson (60) on 656 fewer touches!

There are so many questions for New Orleans in 2022. The offensive line slipped, the team faced injuries, and who knows who the QB will be? New Orleans started 13(!) different offensive linemen in 2021. He’s still elite but the floor doesn’t seem as high as it used to.

Lucky Butt Fumblin’

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray fumbled the ball 13 times in the regular season (in only 14 games played).  YET, he somehow recovered ALL 13 of his fumblesThat is the MOST fumbles recovered in a season in NFL History!

  • Over the last four seasons, the fumble recovery rate in the NFL is only 55%. For context, Dak Prescott led the league with 14 fumbles; he recovered only 7.
  • According to PFF, 45% of Kyler’s sacks were “QB responsible”, 2nd highest rate in the NFL behind only Patrick Mahomes’ 54%.

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