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Fantasy Football: Breaking down every starting NFL quarterback based on mobility and rushing usage

Rushing QBs are a bit of a cheat code in fantasy football. The ability to rack up production as both a rusher and passer is essentially the same advantage that pass-catching RBs boast over their one-dimensional peers. Additionally, signal-callers who possess at least some semblance of mobility can help extend plays and create off-script magic when the original plan is thwarted.

Of course, not every dual-threat QB is created equal. Some are used as the legit spark plug of their team's run game (Jackson, Lamar), while others are featured more sparingly in high-leverage red-zone or third-down situations (Prescott, Dak). Either way, even a moderate rushing role has historically produced nothing except fantasy goodness for the QB position.

  • 52% of QBs to average 3-plus carries per game since 2010 have been a top-12 fantasy QB
  • 62% of QBs to average 4-plus carries per game since 2010 have been a top-12 fantasy QB
  • 65% of QBs to average 5-plus carries per game since 2010 have been a top-12 fantasy QB

Embracing QBs who aren’t consistently restricted to the pocket has become more commonplace than ever in recent years thanks in large part to the success of dual-threat and air-raid signal-callers. It turns out that forcing defenses to account for nearly every inch of the field is good for the scoring points business.

And yet: Very few QBs actually make a habit of carrying the ball on designed rush attempts. Only Lamar Jackson (135), Kyler Murray (65) and Josh Allen (63) had at least 50 such attempts in 2019. (Note that these designed rush attempts include both QB runs as well as kneel downs.)

Scramble rates paint a more clear picture regarding which QBs actually make a habit of moving and which don't. Only Gardner Minshew (9%), Lamar Jackson (8.8%), Josh Allen (8.4%) and Deshaun Watson (8.1%) took off and scrambled on at least 8% of their dropbacks in 2019, while Philip Rivers (0.9%), Eli Manning (0.7%), Tom Brady (0.5%) and Drew Brees (0%) were the only signal-callers to post marks under 1%.

Not every QB needs to worry about picking up yards on the ground. Still, the ability to provide at least a little mobility is incredibly useful in preventing defenses from simply pinning their ears back and attacking the same stationary QB play after play.

What follows is a tier breakdown of starting NFL QBs as it pertains to their mobility and rushing usage. Shout out to honorable mention dual-threat backups: Taysom Hill, Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Robert Griffin, Jeff Driskel, P.J. Walker and Geno Smith.

The best rushing QB we’ve ever seen (1)

Lamar Jackson: Has set the NFL record for carries by a QB in back-to-back seasons. Only Josh Jacobs (0.29) and Alvin Kamara (0.25) averaged more missed tackles per attempt than Jackson (0.24) in 2019. His average of 3.3 yards after contact per attempt was tied for ninth among all players with at least 100 rush attempts. Nobody converted a higher percentage of their rush attempts into first downs or scores.

Jackson’s average of 61 rush yards per game is well ahead of second-place Mike Vick (43) on the all-time leaderboard for QBs, but he’s actually gone for 81.6 yards per game on the ground if we only include his starts. That mark has only been topped by Ezekiel Elliott, Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry and Chris Carson over the past two seasons.

Not a numbers person? #WatchTheFilm.

Capable of taking over games with their legs (5)

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