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How pressuring the QB influences fantasy performance

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans jumps up after connecting with Will Fuller V #15 on a 59 yard touchdown pass during the first quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

There were 19,447 dropbacks in the 2017 NFL regular season. Pressure was generated on 6,781 of those dropbacks — or 34.9 percent of the time.

This means that just over one-third of all quarterback dropbacks result in pressure, which is no small number. We know that pressure isn’t good for a quarterback. But what is the exact impact pressure has on a quarterback’s fantasy prowess? We dove into the numbers to find out — and to see which quarterbacks are the most pressure-sensitive.

34.9 percent of all dropbacks result in pressure — but it’s nearly 42 percent on third down

First, let’s go over some league-wide averages. As noted above, 34.9 percent of dropbacks resulted in pressure last year. But this number is heavily skewed by third-down plays.

On first and second down, the pressure rates were 31.2 percent and 32.4 percent, respectively. But on third down, the number skyrocketed to 41.9 percent. This makes sense intuitively — third down is often an obvious “passing down,” so the defense can blitz with more confidence — but the jump is drastic.

From a fantasy perspective, as you would expect, quarterbacks fare far better when passing from a clean pocket. Here are the fantasy points per dropback figures league-wide last year:

  • Pressure: 0.24 PPDB
  • No pressure: 0.44 PPDB

This is a huge difference. Quarterbacks score nearly twice as many fantasy PPDB (85 percent, to be exact) when operating from a clean pocket.

The best quarterbacks under pressure

So who were last year’s best quarterbacks under pressure, from a PPDB perspective?

Important note: These numbers are passing numbers only — e.g. rushing numbers have been excluded. So if Russell Wilson is pressured, but then takes off and runs for a 30-yard touchdown, those points are not included in this particular study. The impact pressure can have on a rushing quarterback’s success is a topic in and of itself.

Here’s the list (minimum 190 dropbacks). Why such a random threshold? So Jimmy Garoppolo could be included in the study, of course.

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