There's no doubt that the 2020 Fantasy Football season revolved around rushing quarterbacks. Two-way players like Kyler Murray, Josh Allen and (duh) Lamar Jackson helped blast a new trail for the position. Tack on Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and (duh) Patrick Mahomes using their arms and maybe a little bit of their legs to find numbers and we're looking at the best-ever Fantasy point average for top-12 quarterbacks.
You'd think those big numbers would carry over to the other Fantasy positions, but no, quarterback rushing stats are selfish. Wide receivers got a boost from 2019 averages, but not to all-time highs. Seventeen receivers averaged at least 15 PPR points per game.
The more things change, the more the top-12 tight ends stay the same.
And, sadly, the top-12 running back PPR average hit a five-year low. Maybe we can blame injuries to prolific pass-catchers like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley for that. Or, maybe it was the rushing quarterbacks starving running back numbers. Probably both.
These numbers help provide a baseline for what a "good" game was for Fantasy in 2020. It's 15 PPR points for receivers and running backs and 10 PPR points for a tight end. Quarterbacks are trickier -- 25 points should be their baseline for 2020, but the reality is that only nine passers averaged 25-plus per game, including Dak Prescott. Plus the position has never averaged quite that many points before. I feel like it's too many points to judge the position by, so I adjusted it down to 22 points for a "good" game (20 just didn't feel high enough).
With those baseline numbers in mind, let's go over one Fantasy stat from each NFL team and quickly discuss how it might change in 2021.
Hopkins had a similar track record with the Texans and their lame run attack. Also of note, a Cardinals running back had the same amount of 15-plus-point games, three, in the seven outings Hopkins failed to get 15 PPR points. We know Kyler Murray is a massive factor in the Cardinals' running backs not being efficient for Fantasy, but they could use an upgrade at the position anyway (maybe to take the pressure off Murray). If the Cardinals make a big splash at running back, it could mean a statistical downtick for both Murray and Hopkins.
Matt Ryan had one game where he had 22-plus Fantasy points and a Falcons running back achieved over 15 PPR points (Brian Hill, Week 17). Ryan also helped lead two Falcons wide receivers each to 15-plus PPR points in the same game eight times.
We know the Falcons run game needs some serious fixing, but it wouldn't be so bad for Fantasy if it didn't happen. Calvin Ridley (15-plus PPR in 73% of his games) and Julio Jones (66.7%) were among the most consistent receivers in Fantasy. A big-time back in Atlanta would definitely lower those percentages.
Stunningly, the Ravens' running backs combined for just four games with 15-plus PPR points all year.
The Ravens' runners hit 14 PPR points or more in seven games and 13-plus PPR in nine games (including each of the final five). J.K. Dobbins will be one of the hottest second-year running backs in 2021 drafts, but his limited involvement in the passing game combined with sharing the run-down gig with Gus Edwards and losing opportunities to Lamar Jackson's scrambling keeps the lid on his potential.
The Bills had more games where two wide receivers each eclipsed 15 PPR points (seven) than one running back made 15 PPR points (five).
Coach Sean McDermott has already talked about rebooting his run game. The more the team does to create a strong run game, the more likely Josh Allen comes off his career-high numbers as both a passer and a rusher. That would obviously impact the Bills' receivers. It wouldn't be a shock to see Buffalo use a priority draft pick on a running back prospect.
Robby Anderson scored 15-plus PPR points in eight games, D.J. Moore did so in seven. Only twice all year did both score 15-plus PPR in the same game.
Curtis Samuel moved in on their targets as the season moved along, but he could be on a different team in 2021. More time will be spent on figuring out why one receiver was better than the other in a given week, but red-zone participation has been a problem for Moore over his career (335 career targets, 28 in the red zone).
A Bears tight end recorded 10-plus PPR points in eight 2020 games. That didn't even happen once in 2019.
The Bears poured plenty of resources into the tight end position last spring, signing Jimmy Graham and drafting Cole Kmet. Graham is likely to move on from Chicago this offseason, leaving Kmet to build on his 28-243-2 rookie year. The offensive brain trust remains the same and a 2021 quarterback upgrade could mean bigger things for Kmet.
In Joe Burrow's three games with 22-plus points, at least two Bengals pass-catchers hit their respective thresholds: Twice with receivers each attaining 15-plus PPR points, once with a receiver getting to 15 and a tight end exceeding 10 PPR points.
Burrow also had a 21-point game where one wideout had 18 PPR points and two other receivers notched 13 points. File all this under things to look forward to when Burrow comes back from his knee injury. One last note: Tyler Boyd had at least 16 PPR points in each of these four games. Good to know.
Related: Only twice last year did Mayfield hit 22 points and Beckham 15-plus PPR points in the same game. Also, Beckham and Landry each made 15 PPR points twice in 2019 and once in 2020. It wouldn't be the end of the world if Beckham wasn't in Cleveland.
Ezekiel Elliott had at least 17 PPR points in each of his first five 2020 games, all with Dak Prescott. He had two more with 15-plus in his other 10 games.
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb unsurprisingly had similar successes and struggles with and without Prescott. Tack on the Cowboys' offensive line issues and there was no way this offense was going to be potent on a weekly basis. The Cowboys quarterback spot is a humongous variable for Fantasy.
A Broncos receiver hit 15-plus PPR points in just seven games all season.
For all the wideout firepower they had, this was incredibly low. Drew Lock fans might suggest it was a byproduct of spreading the ball around to receivers and tight ends, but it's an indicator that Denver's passing game must become more efficient. It starts with Lock, but Jerry Jeudy has to hold on to the football and Courtland Sutton has to get healthy.
T.J. Hockenson scored 10 or more PPR points in eight of the games the Lions played with Kenny Golladay limited (Week 8) or absent (Weeks 1-2 and 9-17).
Hockenson's arrow is already pointing up with Jared Goff's short-area passing game arriving in Motown along with tight end-friendly coaches in Dan Campbell and Anthony Lynn. Golladay changing teams would obviously open up targets for Hockenson.
This wasn't just tied to Jones -- Adams and a Packers running back each had 15 PPR points or more just seven times in the 14 games Adams played. It's a byproduct of Aaron Rodgers taking the reins of the Packers' offense and leaning heavily on his top target. With Jones and Jamaal Williams both slated to hit free agency this spring, the Packers have some really challenging decisions to make at running back.
Assuming Will Fuller was Deshaun Watson's No. 1 receiver until he was suspended and Brandin Cooks took over after that, the Texans' No. 1 receiver had 15-plus PPR points in eight of Watson's 11 games with at least 22 points.
Probably one of the most obvious stats you'll read today, but Watson has made a career out of leaning on his top target. It'll continue wherever he's playing and whoever he's throwing to.
The Colts' 12 games where a running back had 15-plus PPR points was the third-most in the NFL.
Running the ball is the direction the Colts seem to be heading in. Why shouldn't they be with Jonathan Taylor primed to lead the way? Indy's run game overshadowed the rest of the offense to the point where a tight end had 10-plus PPR points in just five games and multiple receivers had 15-plus in just one game. Taylor has as much upside as anyone not named McCaffrey, Kamara or Cook (Dalvin, not Jared).
James Robinson had 15-plus PPR points in just six games in 2020.
He had another two with 14 PPR points and two more with 12 or 13 PPR points. No one's complaining since he was a late-round/waiver-wire find, but he's harder to quantify as a top-10 overall pick if he's not going to be more consistent, even in an upgraded offense.
A Chiefs running back had 15-plus PPR points in just five games in 2020, down from six in 2019.
In April, we figured the Chiefs fixed this issue with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He had 15-plus PPR in two of his first three games, and 10-plus PPR in each of his first seven and 9 of his first 10, but never did he ascend to everyone's lofty expectations. The hunch is that he'll get another shot at it in 2021, hopefully with more targets going his way and a restocked offensive line.
For the record, Jacobs had just five games with 15-plus PPR points in 2020 despite scoring 12 touchdowns and totaling over 1,300 yards. How'd that happen? He had four multi-touchdown games and six scoreless outings with under 100 total yards. Consistency has been an issue for Jacobs through two seasons as he hit the 15-point PPR mark in 33% of his games this year and 38.5% last year. What reasons do we have to expect anything to change in 2021?
Justin Herbert had 22-plus points in 10 of 15 games. In those 10 games, a Chargers running back had 15-plus PPR points in four of them.
Austin Ekeler's three best weeks came when Herbert failed to get even 20 Fantasy points. The Chargers figure to keep building around Herbert's strengths, and he wasn't shy about throwing to his running backs (10.2 targets per game). It's in everyone's best interests if this connection grows stronger in 2021.
If the Rams' dynamic duo could find big Fantasy numbers in the same games as when Goff exploded, they certainly could keep it up with Matthew Stafford. And Stafford figures to have more smash games in this offense than Goff, garbage time or not.
A Dolphins running back tallied 15-plus PPR points in just seven of 16 games, but five of the seven came with Tua Tagovailoa starting.
Also of note: a Dolphins tight end scored at least nine PPR points in six of Tagovailoa's nine starts. These are good starting points when considering the offense around Tagovailoa in 2021, though Miami is fully expected to add at least one impact receiver this offseason.
In the 10 games Kirk Cousins racked up 22-plus points, a Vikings receiver came away with at least 15 PPR points in nine of them. Justin Jefferson scored 15-plus in seven of them, Thielen had 15-plus in just four.
Thielen scored 14 touchdowns in 2020 including 10 from 10 yards or closer. By comparison, Jefferson had eight targets from inside the 10. It's great to see Cousins deliver consistent chances for his receivers, but will he continue to lean on Thielen this much?
Patriots running backs combined for five games with 15-plus PPR points. James White didn't have any of them.
White did have two games with 14 PPR points and two more with 13. He's been such a good role player for the Patriots, so it's hard to say if his time is up with the team (he will be a free agent in March). But his time might be up as a reliable PPR flex in Fantasy.
Just pointing this out in case Hill really does become the Saints' weekly starting quarterback in 2021. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.
Evan Engram had 10-plus PPR points in the same game a Giants wideout had 15-plus PPR points only three times.
By comparison, Engram and a wide receiver hit their thresholds for a good game three times in eight 2019 games. Honestly, the Giants passing game was a mess all year (a Giants wideout had 15-plus in just six games); this was just one way to quantify it.
A Jets running back had 10 or more PPR points in just seven games in 2020.
Not 15 PPR points. Not 14 or 13 PPR points. Ten whole PPR points. That low bar didn't even get crossed in half of the Jets' games. Mercifully, Mike LaFleur's run game should be worlds better than what the Jets had before.
An Eagles tight end scored 10-plus PPR points in six of Carson Wentz's first 11 starts. He was benched for Jalen Hurts in his 12th start and Dallas Goedert did have 11 PPR points that game. In Jalen Hurts' starts over the final four games, Eagles tight ends failed to record 10-plus PPR points in any matchup.
Goedert and Zach Ertz each had three games with at least six targets from Hurts down the stretch, so it's not like the rookie quarterback forgot about his tight ends. They just didn't connect quite as brilliantly as they did with Wentz. It's worth looking into this offseason before committing to Goedert as a top six Fantasy tight end.
Eric Ebron had 10-plus PPR points in eight games. In only two of those eight did a Steelers running back come away with 15-plus PPR points.
This isn't anything new with Ebron. In 2019, he had four games with 10-plus points and Colts running backs didn't even have 10 PPR points in those games. In 2018 he hit his mark in 11 games and a Colts rusher found 15 PPR points four times. If Ebron stays in a primary red-zone role then it'll continue to hinder the running back(s) he plays with.
A 49ers running back had 15-plus PPR points in 5 of the 8 games (and 14-plus PPR points in 7 of 8 games) George Kittle played in.
Everyone already knew how important Kittle was to the 49ers passing game, but he also helps in the run game. When he's on the field, everyone in this offense has a chance to be better.
Seahawks running backs totaled nine games with 15-plus PPR points in 2020, seventh-best in the NFL.
Chris Carson had six of the nine, got hurt in a game where Carlos Hyde scored 15 points and was inactive when the Seahawks' backups found two more good games. The Seahawks are hell-bent on being a stronger run offense, so whoever is back there will have the chance to be effective for Fantasy. Carson's a free agent coming off career-bests in yards per carry (4.8) and receptions per game (3.1). Maybe we shouldn't be quick to write him off.
Tom Brady scored over 30 points in five games. Chris Godwin was inactive for one of them and had at least 15 PPR points in the other four. Godwin also had 15-plus PPR points in Brady's games with 29 and 27 points, and he even had 13 PPR points in another 27-point game for Brady.
Of course, Brady helped all of his targets put up big games over the course of 2020, but Godwin seemed to jive with him the most in big games, barely ahead of Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs need to keep Godwin.
A Titans tight end had 10-plus PPR points in 11 of 16 games.
Jonnu Smith led the way with eight. Also of note: Four of Smith's games with at least nine PPR points came in weeks where Derrick Henry didn't pulverize defenses. Smith's going to be a free agent and could be coveted by teams looking for a mismatch piece at tight end. His replacement in Tennessee could be interesting for Fantasy (unless he himself stays, in which case he would open the season as a low-end starter).
The point is that Thomas seemed to come alive when Gibson couldn't deliver on the ground. Case in point: Of Gibson's eight games with at least 12 PPR points, Thomas had 10-plus three times. If Gibson improves in his second season, might it cost Thomas the opportunity to be a PPR stud?