True Fantasy Points: 2015 QB Rushing Projections

A stats-based guide for identifying quarterbacks' "true" rushing talent.

On Monday, I gave a detailed analysis of True Fantasy Points (TFP) for 2015 starting quarterbacks that were on the same team in 2014. Loyal Footballguys readers requested that, in addition to the passing game, I also include quarterback TFP for the rushing game. As a faithful servant, this post is in obligation of said request.

But before I give the details, let me first explain why I left quarterback rushing projections out of the previous post. The reason is three-fold:

  1. I've found that "box score stats" related to the running game are pretty random. Namely, yards per carry takes 1,978 carries to "stabilize" and touchdowns per carry (RuTD%) takes 667 carries to stabilize.
  2. None of the projected starting quarterbacks in 2015 have had at least 667 rushing attempts with their current team, let alone 1,978.
  3. Outside of a handful of "runners by design" (e.g., Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, etc.), the vast majority of quarterback rush attempts are either kneel-downs or scrambles.
For these reasons, it makes dubious sense -- except for maybe the "runners by design" -- to try to use YPC and RuTD% to project rushing TFP for the upcoming season. That said, readers get what readers want, so I'll present the TFP stats and projections anyway.
 

True YPC and Rush TD%

The table below displays actual and "true" rushing stats (sorted by "True YPC") for the projected starting quarterbacks in 2015 that were on the same team in 2014:

PlayerTmPrev RuAttPrev RuYdsPrev RuTDsTrue YPCRkTrue RuTD%Rk
Cam Newton CAR 467 2571 33 4.00 1 5.05% 1
Russell Wilson SEA 308 1877 11 3.98 2 3.61% 12
Colin Kaepernick SF 261 1576 10 3.93 3 3.69% 10
Robert Griffin WAS 244 1480 8 3.91 4 3.54% 13
Aaron Rodgers GB 376 1831 20 3.84 5 4.24% 3
Alex Smith KC 125 685 2 3.76 6 3.31% 22
Ryan Tannehill MIA 145 760 4 3.76 7 3.48% 16
Jay Cutler CHI 211 1002 5 3.75 8 3.33% 21
Blake Bortles JAX 56 419 0 3.75 9 3.35% 20
Andrew Luck IND 189 905 12 3.75 10 4.23% 4
Geno Smith NYJ 131 604 7 3.71 11 3.91% 6
Teddy Bridgewater MIN 47 209 1 3.66 12 3.53% 14
EJ Manuel BUF 69 238 3 3.64 13 3.70% 9
Derek Carr OAK 29 92 0 3.64 14 3.48% 15
Matthew Stafford DET 161 485 11 3.60 15 4.25% 2
Carson Palmer ARI 35 28 0 3.60 16 3.45% 17
Andy Dalton CIN 205 624 11 3.59 17 4.04% 5
Matt Ryan ATL 248 700 5 3.55 18 3.19% 25
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 378 1162 15 3.55 19 3.75% 7
Tony Romo DAL 234 607 5 3.54 20 3.24% 23
Joe Flacco BAL 267 631 10 3.49 21 3.66% 11
Peyton Manning DEN 79 -49 1 3.48 22 3.38% 18
Eli Manning NYG 243 462 5 3.46 23 3.21% 24
Drew Brees NO 225 324 9 3.42 24 3.73% 8
Philip Rivers SD 286 512 3 3.41 25 2.86% 26
Tom Brady NE 470 823 14 3.28 26 3.36% 19

true fantasy projections for 2015 (Passing & rushing)

Monday's article elucidated quarterback TFP projections for 2015 based on "true" passing stats. Below are projections based on the full combination of quarterback passing (Pa) stats and quarterback rushing (Ru) stats. For readers' convenience, the table is sorted by the "Diff" column, i.e., the difference between Dodds' points projection and TFP's points projection:

NameTmTFPPaFBGPaTFPRuFBGRuTFPRkFBGRkDiffRk
Russell Wilson SEA 257.9 273.9 59.6 91.1 317.5 10 365.0 3 +47.4 1
Andrew Luck IND 328.6 369.8 40.2 45.5 368.8 2 415.3 1 +46.5 2
Eli Manning NYG 286.1 319.8 8.6 8.4 294.7 16 328.2 11 +33.5 3
Aaron Rodgers GB 338.7 357.4 31.9 43.5 370.6 1 400.9 2 +30.3 4
Ryan Tannehill MIA 278.4 296.8 25.7 30.2 304.1 12 327.0 12 +22.9 5
Matt Ryan ATL 305.0 323.0 13.7 16.0 318.7 9 339.0 7 +20.2 6
Jay Cutler CHI 273.2 287.8 16.1 20.0 289.3 18 307.8 16 +18.5 7
Matthew Stafford DET 288.7 315.9 23.4 13.6 312.0 11 329.5 10 +17.5 8
Colin Kaepernick SF 245.7 238.2 55.2 72.9 300.9 14 311.1 14 +10.2 9
Tony Romo DAL 311.1 321.9 13.7 11.8 324.8 8 333.7 9 +8.8 10
Teddy Bridgewater MIN 268.5 270.9 33.0 38.2 301.5 13 309.1 15 +7.6 11
Robert Griffin WAS 235.9 231.2 39.2 50.5 275.1 22 281.7 19 +6.6 12
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 335.0 347.1 18.6 11.8 353.6 4 358.9 4 +5.3 13
Geno Smith NYJ 208.8 215.0 39.4 38.0 248.2 25 253.0 25 +4.8 14
Cam Newton CAR 268.9 260.6 70.3 82.5 339.2 6 343.1 5 +3.8 15
Blake Bortles JAX 237.0 235.4 31.7 36.3 268.7 24 271.7 22 +3.0 16
Joe Flacco BAL 268.8 276.8 18.8 13.6 287.6 20 290.4 18 +2.8 17
Tom Brady NE 259.4 261.5 13.2 8.5 272.6 23 270.0 24 -2.6 18
Andy Dalton CIN 265.6 275.1 34.9 21.7 300.5 15 296.8 17 -3.7 19
Alex Smith KC 252.4 245.1 31.6 33.5 284.0 21 278.6 20 -5.5 20
Drew Brees NO 336.4 325.1 13.0 11.3 349.4 5 336.4 8 -13.0 21
EJ Manuel BUF 112.7 104.5 11.7 6.8 124.4 26 111.3 26 -13.2 22
Carson Palmer ARI 277.7 264.6 13.0 10.6 290.8 17 275.2 21 -15.6 23
Philip Rivers SD 315.2 309.3 17.4 7.5 332.6 7 316.8 13 -15.8 24
Derek Carr OAK 265.9 253.5 21.8 17.4 287.7 19 270.9 23 -16.8 25
Peyton Manning DEN 348.8 343.7 15.4 -2.0 364.2 3 341.7 6 -22.5 26

Because the vast majority of quarterback fantasy points come from the passing game, today's table isn't much different than the pass-only version I presented on Monday: Luck, Stafford, and Eli Manning are still among the most over-projected, while Carr, Palmer, and Brees are still among the most under-projected. That said, there's one quarterback whose divergent rushing projections has shot him to the top of the list.

russell wilson

Dodds projects Wilson to score 31.5 more rushing points than TFP does. To put +31.5 into perspective, that's nearly twice as much as the No. 2 rushing difference (Colin Kaepernick at +17.7) and nearly three times as large as the No. 3 difference (Cam Newton at +12.2).

The reason for Wilson being such an outlier is that Dodds projects him to have a 6.30 YPC in 2015, whereas Wilson's True YPC based on 308 previous runs with the Seahawks is only 3.98. Spread out over 97 projected rushes this season, that YPC difference translates to a Dodds projection of 225 more rushing yards, or 22.5 more fantasy points -- and that's before even considering rushing touchdowns.

Of course, as I alluded to in the introduction, there's a problem with taking TFP at face value here. On one hand, Wilson's a runner by design often enough that the stabilization point of YPC for running backs (i.e., 1,978 carries) applies to him more than it would a quarterback, like say Ben Roethlisberger, whose rush attempts are mostly of the kneel-down or scramble variety. On the other hand, if the running back YPC stabilization point does apply to Wilson for this reason, then 308 carries isn't even 20 percent of the way towards reaching it, and so his actual 6.09 YPC with the Seahawks should decrease towards the league average; not increase to 6.30 as Dodds projects.

Perhaps, then, the solution amid all this uncertainty is to split the difference, and make an educated guess that Wilson's YPC in 2015 will end up somewhere near the midpoint between his 3.98 True YPC projection and Dodds' 6.30 YPC projection -- say, 5.14. That's not as statistically rigorous as I'd like, but blindly following a stat that's obviously wrong isn't the correct path either.


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