NFL News & Analysis

32 fantasy football stats to know from the 2021 NFL season: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor and Rams WR Cooper Kupp break PFF records

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs the ball in the second half against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a wildly complex and enigmatic sport. What looks and seems so easy on the surface has taken hours of preparation, with head coaches and assistants spending hours, sometimes days, trying to find the one edge that holds the key to victory.

Fantasy football is no different.

There is a world of data available within the PFF database, ranging from commonplace metrics such as average depth of target to advanced metrics such as inside-the-five rush attempt share and expected fantasy points. And using the data and analytics to find the edge can be the difference between winning and tumbling out of the postseason, just as it is in the NFL.

Each week, I come across statistics and trends that help sharpen my fantasy football rankings and inform my decision-making. Now that the regular season is over, it's time to share some of these insights and quantify the accomplishments of some of the league's best players.

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Arizona Cardinals

Rondale Moore caught 38 passes behind the line of scrimmage this season, the second-most among all players. Every other player who ranked in the top five is a running back.

Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts gained 694 receiving yards on plays where he wasn’t considered open or wide open, the third-most among all players regardless of position. Only two tight ends ranked in the top 20.

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Baltimore Ravens

Mark Andrews hauled in 18 contested catches during the 2021 season, three more than any other tight end.

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen forced 35 missed tackles as a runner in 2021. Over the past 16 years, Allen and Lamar Jackson are the only quarterbacks who have avoided more than 30 tackles in a single season.

Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey didn’t play much this season, but he was as effective as ever when he did. The Panthers' star back averaged 2.91 yards per route run this season, the highest single-season average ever recorded by a running back who ran at least 100 routes.

Chicago Bears

Justin Fields 6.3% big-time throw percentage is the highest mark by a rookie quarterback since 2019.

Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase led the league in receiving yards on go-routes (325) and back-shoulder go-routes (128).

Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb led all running backs in rushing yards against eight-men boxes at 669. He is one of 29 backs who faced an eight-man box at least 50 times but the only one to average more than 5.0 yards per carry against them.

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard gained a first down on 39.4% of his carries when running to the outside, the highest rate for all running backs.

Denver Broncos

Javonte Williams averaged 0.31 missed tackles per carry in his first year in the NFL, tying Marshawn Lynch (2014) and Nick Chubb (2020) for the best rate by a running back since 2006.

Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (33) runs downfield in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals. Credit: Imagn
Detroit Lions

D’Andre Swift gained 506 yards after contact, the second-most among running backs this season.

Green Bay Packers

Randall Cobb received 26.3% of his targets in the end zone, the highest rate among wide receivers in 2021.

Houston Texans

Davis Mills‘ 2.57-second average time to throw was the quickest among rookie quarterbacks this year.

Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor ran for 106 first downs. He is the only player to reach triple digits in the last 16 years.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

James Robinson found the end zone on seven of his 10 carries from inside the 5-yard line. He was the only running back with at least 10 such carries to convert 70%-plus of his goal-line carries into touchdowns.

Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Kelce avoided 19 tackles this season, a career-high mark that tied for the league lead at the tight end position. Only three tight ends since 2006 have forced more missed tackles over a single season.

Las Vegas Raiders

DeSean Jackson averaged 22.7 yards per reception, the highest average among wide receivers with at least 20 catches in over a decade.

Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert‘s 39.3% adjusted completion rate on tight-window throws ranked first among quarterbacks in 2021. 

Los Angeles Rams

Cooper Kupp is the only wide receiver over the last 16 years to produce more than 800 yards after the catch. He finished the season with 861.

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Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa recorded the league's best adjusted completion percentage on deep throws at 55.2%.

Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson was targeted 100 times on passes that traveled 10 or more yards in the air, 25 more than any other receiver. Only 65 of those passes were catchable. He caught 57 of them for 1,249 yards.

New England Patriots

Damien Harris led all running backs in fantasy points per snap at 0.53.

New Orleans Saints

Jamies Winston averaged 0.64 fantasy points per dropback, leading all quarterbacks.

New York Giants

Kadarius Toney averaged 2.14 yards per route run, second to only Ja'Marr Chase among rookie wide receivers.

New York Jets

Rookie Michael Carter forced 0.34 missed tackles per attempt on outside-zone run plays, the best mark among running backs this season.

New York Jets running back Michael Carter (32) runs against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles

Miles Sanders was tackled for a loss on just 3.6% of his carries in 2021, the lowest rate for a back over the last five seasons.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris avoided 35 tackles, 14 more than any other running back this season and the second-most among backs since 2006.

San Francisco 49ers

Trey Lance averaged 8.5 yards per attempt during his rookie year, the best mark by a rookie quarterback since 2012.

Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny averaged 4.5 yards after contact per carry in 2021, tying Nick Chubb (2018) for the best rate by a running back in the last 16 seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Godwin recorded 32 receptions on wide receiver screens in 2021, 11 more than any other wide receiver. He gained 236 yards, including 118 after contact.

Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry gained 331 rushing yards on plays with man-blocking run concepts. He led the league in yards in those situations despite missing half the season — and five backs ended up with more carries than him on man-blocking plays.

Washington Football Team

Terry McLaurin hauled in 25 contested catches this season, the most among wide receivers in 2021 and the second-most among wideouts since 2017.

 


If you would like to make some observations of your own, check out PFF Elite, where you can find signature statistics for every offensive and defensive position in football, thanks to PFF's Premium Stats and Fantasy Stats

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