We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason, and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.
Dual-threat players tend to be a cheat code of sorts in fantasy football land. The reasoning is simple — most players pick up the overwhelming majority of their production through passing, rushing or receiving, but rushing quarterbacks, receiving running backs and occasionally rushing wide receivers offer immense ceiling/floor combos thanks to their multiple avenues for racking up fantasy points.
Most know mobile quarterbacks deserve top billing in fantasy drafts, and for good reason: 22 quarterbacks totaled at least 100 rush attempts in a single season since 2010, and 15 (68%) finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback.
The presence of a rushing quarterback might not be all that great for their teammates, however. On the one hand, an offense only has so many plays, so the available opportunity for everyone else involved simply shrinks when a quarterback is running rather frequently. On the other, dual-threat quarterbacks make life tougher on defensive ends in the read option game and seem to open up wider lanes for everyone involved. It’s also tougher to play complex defenses against speedier signal-callers due to the potential for a scramble situation.
Today’s goal is to quantify how often we’ve seen mobile quarterbacks enable high-end fantasy teammates over the years. Using 80 carries (5 per game) as the season-long threshold for inclusion leaves us with 37 examples over the past 10 years (3.7 per year). The times they are a-changin’, as our PFF projections see each of Lamar Jackson (141 projected rush attempts), Jalen Hurts (125), Josh Allen (118), Kyler Murray (105), Russell Wilson (99), Justin Fields (86), Trey Lance (84) and Tyrod Taylor (82) expected to clear that mark in 2021.
There are two key findings from the running back group:
1) 22 of 37 (59%) highly mobile quarterbacks enabled a top-24 fantasy running back. This is quite a bit lower than our expected hit rate of 75% (24 running backs divided by 32 teams).
2) The larger concern was only 10 top-12 running backs emerged from this group: 2020 Alvin Kamara, 2017-2018 Christian McCaffrey, 2016-2017 LeSean McCoy, 2012-2014 Marshawn Lynch, 2012 Alfred Morris and 2019 Mark Ingram. The former three backs caught at least 50 passes in each season, while the latter three all participated in top-10 offenses.
As much as mobile quarterbacks might improve the overall efficiency of their team’s rushing attack, it’s clear they don’t make a habit of enabling stud fantasy backs. This brings up some questions to the following backs who boast top-24 average draft positions (ADP) over at Underdog Fantasy: