EXTRA YARDS 3 – RUSHING QUARTERBACKS
In ‘Extra Yards’, we examine players whose teams use them in different ways. Their usage in other offensive areas may have given you the ‘oomph’ you needed to win last season. This time, its the turn of the rushing Quarterbacks.
GROUND POUNDING PASSERS
Primarily, a Quarterback is meant throw the ball. After all, that’s why they have that job.
But it’s well known that there are Quarterbacks who can run as well as pass. They can shift, break out of the pocket and get the first down, keeping the defences on their toes. Recently, that has become synonymous with several current NFL Quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen. Their performances have become well known for regularly including those rushes. And those extra plays have given extra yards. And those extra yards? They mean extra fantasy points.
% OF FINAL FANTASY POINTS GAINED FROM RUSHING STATS
|Attempts||Yards||TDs||Rush FPTs||% of total FPTs|
These stats have been adjusted to remove any points lost from fumbles and lost fumbles. Incidentally, although Allen scored the most rushing touchdowns of the three, he also fumbled the ball 7 times during his rush attempts, losing it 2 times. His final total was 11 points higher before those adjustments.
There are other players out there who also managed to produce rushing yardage in 2019.
THE SECOND TIER
DESHAUN WATSON – HOUSTON TEXANS
DeShaun comes in at fourth on the list of rushing Quarterbacks, although there is quite the gap between his and Josh Allen’s in terms of rushing yardage. During the season, the Houston Quarterback rushed 82 times. In doing so, he earned his team 413 yards, punching home 7 rushing touchdowns in the process.
|Attempts||Yards||TD||FPts||%of total FPTs|
That’s right! Watson actually earned more fantasy points through rushing than Kyler Murray did! This is even after you take away the six fumbles and one lost fumble that Watson picked up during the season as well. The point difference comes in the form of Watson’s much higher number of touchdowns – Murray only managed to run in 4 for his rookie season.
However, his percentage of points picked up from rushing is smaller due to the number of points he picked up in other areas. PPR scoring actually sees Watson pick up another 7.6 points due to the 6 yard touchdown he caught during the regular season against the Patriots. But now that DeAndre Hopkins has departed for the Cardinals, this shoe could be on the other foot. It might be Murray catching a pass from DHop this season!
GARDNER MINSHEW – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Second on this list? It’s the Teal Steal.
On his way to usurping Nick Foles of the QB1 position, Gardner Minshew got 67 rushing attempts. With those runs, he made 344 yards. However, he didn’t manage to add any touchdowns. This is unsurprising, as the rushing touchdown total was abysmal. The Jags only managed 3 rush TDs… and they were all from Leonard Fournette.
|Attempts||Yards||TDs||Rush FPTs||% of total FPTs|
Minshew only fumbled the ball three times during these runs, but lost it twice. Even without taking the points away for that, the total is still meagre.
Sadly, the lack of a finishing product hurts this side of Minshew’s fantasy points. Not getting those touchdowns really make the difference to the fantasy points that a Quarterback can make from the run. Gardner only got 69 yards less than Watson – but nearly 50 points less! To put it into perspective, Minshew finished the season as QB22. If he’d have somehow earned those 50 extra points, he would have been QB11.
However, one of the reasons that he may not have managed to convert those runs into paydirt is something that we will cover later in the article.
RUSSELL WILSON – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
I’ve already covered Mr. Unlimited in one of the They Went Where? articles, and how his past seasons of dominant rushing performances are a thing of a past. But, even with a reduced level of rush involvement, the Seattle Quarterback still managed to peel off 342 yards from 75 attempts. His rushing touchdowns added a further three to the final total.
|Attempts||Yards||TDs||Rush FPts||% of Total FPts|
Unsurprisingly, Wilson ended up finishing 2019 as the QB3 behind Jackson and Dak Prescott, likely due to the 4000+ yards he threw during the season. This explains why the rushing fantasy points percentage is so low. However, those extra rushing yards helped nudge him above Jameis Winston (with additional help from all of Winston’s interceptions). It’s another good example of why finishing the job can really give a boost to those fantasy points.
Like the others, Wilson also suffer cases of the fumbles during his rushes this season, but he only lost 7 points from these (3 fumbles, 2 lost). It wouldn’t have pushed him any higher up the charts. And, as has been discussed already, the chances of him regaining any of the lost carries from years past is highly unlikely.
HOLD THE SCRAMBLES
Despite these players doing well in terms of picking up yards, there is something more important to consider when it comes to fantasy points. When considering the stats, it’s important to look at the context in how these runs have been made in the first place.
A run can be intentional, or can come about due to a Quarterback escaping the attention of the oncoming defenders. They just have to move to avoid the sack. These ‘scrambles’ are not intentionally scripted, but they still count towards rushing totals.
And this is where those top three players come into their own. Using the advanced rushing stats from pro-football-reference, that trio of top performers had amongst the lowest percentage of runs that were recorded as ‘scrambles’.
QUARTERBACK RUSHING ATTEMPTS AND SCRAMBLE %
Based on the percentage of Gardner Minshew’s 2019 scrambles, it’s no surprise he didn’t get any touchdowns. It was likely that he was escaping pressure when he was making those runs. This is reinforced by stats showing that Minshew didn’t make any rushing attempts inside the 5 yard line last season.
As such, the top three’s low scramble percentage leans towards plays designed specifically for them to use their feet, or counting on themselves to continue a play that has broken down. Either way, I would expect there to be a floor for all three players to make the same moves next season.
But are there any Quarterbacks out there who got a similarly low percentage of scrambles from last season? You will be surprised to know that there are! Although they did not pick up the same yardage as those scramblers above, they should be players to consider for a rushing floor this season.
DAK PRESCOTT – DALLAS COWBOYS
Yes, Dak can be found on this list!
Prescott came in with the third highest rushing yards for the Cowboys, finishing behind Zeke and Tony Pollard. The Quarterback made 52 rushing attempts, putting down 277 yards. He grabbed 3 rushing touchdowns for his troubles as well.
|Att||Yards||TD||FPts||% of Total FPts||Scrambles||Scramble %|
The Pro-football-reference.com data determines that only 20 of Dak’s rushes could be classed as scrambles. That gives him a scramble percentage of 38.4% – which is slightly lower than Josh Allen.
So, while Josh Allen has more rushes on the whole, the similarity in their intentional run level suggests that Dak may also have a use in the rushing game. Therefore, his use could also provide a floor for fantasy points in a different area. Now that he has a set of incredible Wide Receiver weapons in Cooper, Gallup and Lamb, this could shift defensive coverage further down the field. And there may be more opportunities in the opposition secondary for Dak to run into if a play breaks down.
RYAN TANNEHILL – TENNESSEE TITANS
Although a little further down the list, the Titans QB has also managed to log a low scramble percentage. Tannehill made 43 rushing attempts during the 2019 season, amassing 185 yards There was no chance he was finding his way to the top of the rushing list with Derrick Henry on the roster. But he did manage to bag 4 rushing touchdowns!
|Att||Yards||TDs||Rush FPts||% of Total FPTs||Scrambles||Scramble %|
In comparison, Tannehill’s rush percentage is higher than some of the other players. And what is important to remember about him is that he was the Titans starter for only three quarters of the season. Before Ryan settled in as QB1, Marcus Mariota was the lead. But a lack of offensive flair caused the Tennessee staff to look elsewhere, and Tannehill slotted straight in.
Secondly, you also have to consider that he was playing with Derrick Henry – the leading rusher in the NFL that season. Getting even a small proportion of the rushing quota is admirable.
And, although he did not manage the same yardage as the other QBs we have covered, he more than made up in rushing touchdowns. As we said before, that’s a huge boost for a fantasy point haul. Similarly, another low scramble percentage puts him in the same range as Allen and Prescott. So either the Titans were intentionally using him as a runner, or Ryan had the smarts to make a move himself. On both counts, it could be promising for Tannehill’s use in that area for 2020.
ANOTHER FLYING TITAN?
Now Tannehill is firmly in position as the QB1, the Titans can use him straight from the start of the season. For many defenses, it would be obvious to focus all their time and effort to slowing down the beast at Running Back. So this could this be where Tannehill’s runs becomes most effective.
It is unlikely that he breaks into that exclusive club – Henry is just too good to give up enough carries to grant him access. But this could be a case of those extra yards and touchdowns coming in handy to boost him up the QB charts.
But only time will tell!
So, until next time, Rush Nation…