The Effect of Rushing Yards on QB Production in Fantasy Football

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If you listen to the Fantasy Footballers Podcast, you know that Jason is not a big fan of how much rushing yards affect a quarterback’s production in fantasy football. To put it simply, rushing matters A TON for quarterbacks, and that isn’t news. We’ve known that for a while. But, there seems to be a question of how much it matters from a statistical perspective. Is 100 yards on the season good enough for a top-12 finish come season’s end? 200? 300? What is the statistical threshold we as fantasy players should be looking for when trying to find quarterbacks who add value on the ground with their legs.

I took a look back at the top-12 QBs from 2016-2019 to try to determine how many rushing yards a QB would need, on average, to post QB1 numbers based on scoring from Weeks 1-17, assuming 4-point passing TD scoring formats.

2016
QB Fantasy Finish QB Rushing Yards / Rushing TD Fantasy Points from Rushing % of Fantasy Points from Rushing
1 Aaron Rodgers 369 / 4 60.9 16%
2 Matt Ryan 117 / 0 11.7 3%
3 Drew Brees 20 / 2 14.0 4%
4 Andrew Luck 341 / 2 46.1 15%
5 Kirk Cousins 96 / 4 33.6 11%
6 Dak Prescott 282 / 6 64.2 22%
7 Matthew Stafford 207 / 2 32.7 12%
8 Tyrod Taylor 580 / 6 94.0 35%
9 Blake Bortles 359 / 3 53.9 20%
10 Derek Carr 70 / 0 7.0 3%
11 Russell Wilson 259 / 1 31.9 12%
12 Marcus Mariota 349 / 2 46.9 18%

Avg rushing yards for Top 12 QBs: 254.1
Avg fantasy points from rushing: 41.3

2017
QB Fantasy Finish QB Rushing Yards / Rushing TD Fantasy Points from Rushing % of Fantasy Points from Rushing
1 Russell Wilson 586 / 3 76.6 22%
2 Cam Newton 754 / 6 111.4 37%
3 Tom Brady 28 / 0 2.8 .9%
4 Alex Smith 355 / 1 41.5 14%
5 Carson Wentz 299 / 0 29.9 11%
6 Kirk Cousins 179 / 4 41.9 15%
7 Matthew Stafford 98 / 0 9.8 4%
8 Philip Rivers -2 / 0 0 0%
9 Drew Brees 12 / 2 13.2 5%
10 Ben Roethlisberger 47 / 0 4.7 2%
11 Dak Prescott 357 / 6 71.7 28%
12 Jared Goff 51 / 1 11.1 4%

Avg rushing yards for Top 12 QBs: 230.3
Avg fantasy points from rushing: 35.6

2018
QB Fantasy Finish QB Rushing Yards / Rushing TD Fantasy Points from Rushing % of Fantasy Points from Rushing
1 Patrick Mahomes 272 / 2 39.2 9%
2 Matt Ryan 125 / 3 30.5 8%
3 Ben Roethlisberger 98 / 3 27.8 8%
4 Deshaun Watson 551 / 5 85.1 26%
5 Andrew Luck 148 / 0 14.8 5%
6 Aaron Rodgers 269 / 2 38.9 12%
7 Jared Goff 108 / 2 22.8 7%
8 Drew Brees 22 / 4 26.2 9%
9 Russell Wilson 376 / 0 37.6 13%
10 Dak Prescott 305 / 6 66.5 23%
11 Philip Rivers 7 / 0 0.7 0%
12 Cam Newton 488 / 4 72.8 26%

Avg rushing yards for Top 12 QBs: 230.1
Avg fantasy points from rushing: 38.6

2019
QB Fantasy Finish QB Rushing Yards / Rushing TD Fantasy Points from Rushing % of Fantasy Points from Rushing
1 Lamar Jackson 1206 / 7 162.6 39%
2 Dak Prescott 277 / 3 45.7 18%
3 Jameis Winston 250 / 1 31.0 9%
4 Russell Wilson 342 / 3 52.2 16%
5 Deshaun Watson 413 / 7 83.3 25%
6 Josh Allen 510 / 9 105.0 35%
7 Kyler Murray 544 / 4 78.4 26%
8 Patrick Mahomes 218 / 2 33.8 12%
9 Carson Wentz 243 / 1 30.3 11%
10 Aaron Rodgers 183 / 1 24.3 9%
11 Matt Ryan 147 / 1 20.7 7%
12 Tom Brady 34 / 3 21.4 8%

Avg rushing yards for Top 12 QBs: 379.2
Avg fantasy points from rushing: 57.4

Statistical Conclusions:
  • 2019 appears to be an outlier season. From 2016-2018, the average rushing total for a QB1 in fantasy was 238.2 yards. In 2019, the average total was 379.2. We call this the Lamar Jackson effect. Based on the statistical averages over the past several seasons, it appears regression is coming for Lamar on the ground.
  • In total, from 2016-2019, the average rushing production from QB1s was 273.4 yards
  • Using the mean of 273.4 yards from this sample size, there were a total of six QBs in 2016, five QBs in 2017, four QBs in 2018, and six QBs in 2010 who surpassed the 273.4 threshold.
Fantasy Takeaways:

Now that we’ve got the data, what does it mean and how do you use it to draft your QB in fantasy? The bottom line is that we, as fantasy owners, need to take one of two approaches. First, target QBs who have the upside to surpass about 250-275 rushing yards. Based on the research I’ve done, it appears that on average about 5 or 6 QBs will pass this mark. Below, I’ll identify QBs who I believe can surpass this mark. If this option isn’t possible based on missing on rushing QBs in the draft, fantasy owners need to be targeted high volume passing attacks to accommodate for the lack of rushing upside.

Rushing QBs likely to surpass the statistical threshold of 273.4 yards:
  • Lamar Jackson – Obvious regression candidate after historic 2019 season but will easily crush this number. The only question is whether or not the price is too expensive in fantasy drafts.
  • Josh Allen – Back to back season of 500+ rushing yards. Offensive scheme should allow him to continue to improvise and utilize his rushing skillset.
  • Kyler Murray – Rushed for 544 yards as a rookie and was listed on the injury report with a hamstring injury for the final month of the season.
  • Deshaun Watson – Posted an average rushing total of 519 rushing yards on a 16-game pace over the past three years. Could we see more from Watson in 2020 after losing target hog DeAndre Hopkins?
  • Russell Wilson – Has passed the 273-yard mark in 7-of-8 professional seasons. With Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny coming off injury, could we see Russ be unleashed?
  • Daniel Jones – Ran for 279 yards as a rookie in 2019 in just 13 games. 16-game pace puts Danny Dimes at 343 yards on the season.
  • Gardner Minshew – There were only four QBs to run for at least 400 yards in 2019 – Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray. Translating Minshew’s 344 yards as a rookie over a 16-game pace would have put him on the cusp of joining this elite QB rushing tier.

Comments

Sean1022 says:

IMO, Jackson in the 2nd is too soon. If you were to target one of the QB’s highlighted in the article, I would look at Watson. His ADP is falling and very well could keep falling. In most redraft leagues, it’s possible Watson could be the 6th QB off the board with Jackson, Mahomes, Prescott, Murray, Wilson all easily being drafted ahead of him. In my league of record, with how teams draft, that would put Watson in 8th round. While Murray has the ceiling to make the type of leap Jackson did (not the same leap, what Jackson did last year was historic, I can’t project a guy to break records) , the hype train is already rolling with him.

By the time August rolls around, Watson will be the best value.

Calvin says:

So, I know we usually wanna wait until around the 8-12th Round to Draft a QB (based on the Skill Players First Srategy), but based on this article, it might be worth it to target Lamar or Murray or Allen earlier. The question is, hows early too early? I’m seeing Lamar go mid-2nd Round. Is that too soon? Seeing how he’s basically a Q & an RB rolled into one position? Even with regression, is 800 yards or 500 yards worth taking Lamar that soon???

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