Fantasy Football Stat of the Day: Who goes for the jugular up big?


(Leading up to the 2021 NFL season, FTN’s Tyler Loechner will dive into the fantasy football numbers to bring you his Fantasy Stat of the Day, five days a week.)

Coaching decisions obviously vary from team to team, but generally speaking, most NFL coaches play things similarly when in similar situations.

One area where that “generally speaking” does not apply is when it comes to play selection when winning by two scores (9-plus points).

Today’s Stat of the Day examines a simple question, but one with big fantasy implications: Which NFL teams continued to air it out in 2020, even with a comfortable lead?

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When up by two scores, the Chiefs never take their foot off the gas, but the Raiders might as well not even have a QB

Team % of all plays up by 9+ pass % when up 9+ run % when up 9+
KC 22% 59% 41%
ATL 19% 58% 42%
DET 9% 57% 43%
JAX 1% 56% 44%
NYJ 6% 56% 44%
PIT 17% 55% 45%
BUF 23% 55% 45%
LAC 13% 54% 46%
TB 23% 53% 47%
PHI 4% 53% 47%
CHI 10% 53% 47%
SEA 13% 51% 49%
GB 29% 48% 52%
ARZ 14% 48% 52%
CAR 8% 47% 53%
SF 12% 47% 53%
CIN 7% 47% 53%
NYG 7% 46% 54%
DAL 6% 46% 54%
MIA 18% 45% 55%
DEN 4% 44% 56%
HST 2% 43% 57%
MIN 6% 43% 57%
BLT 28% 43% 57%
CLV 19% 41% 59%
IND 16% 41% 59%
TEN 13% 37% 63%
NO 20% 36% 64%
NE 9% 35% 65%
LA 14% 33% 67%
WAS 6% 30% 70%
LV 3% 18% 82%

The Kansas City Chiefs took 22% of their snaps last season while up by at least 9 points, the fifth-highest rate in the league. Not only that, but the Chiefs passed the ball on a league-high 59% of their plays while up by at least two scores. Close behind them were the Atlanta Falcons, at 58% pass rate when up big.

In all, 12 of 32 teams passed the ball more than they ran the ball when winning by at least two scores last season: The Chiefs, Falcons, Lions, Jets, Jaguars, Steelers, Bills, Chargers, Buccaneers, Eagles, Bears and Seahawks.

A few of the teams — namely the Lions, Jets, Jaguars and Eagles — were rarely up by nine-plus points and offer slim pickings for fantasy players. But the other teams were filled with some of the best fantasy players in the league, and the high pass rate even when winning big only helps keep those players producing for all 60 minutes.

On the flip side of the coin, the Raiders, Washington Football Teams, Rams, Patriots, Saints and Titans rarely passed the ball when up big last year.

For a team like the Rams, it will be interesting to see if the script flips with Matthew Stafford now under center (his Lions ranked third in pass rate when up by two scores last year).

For the Titans, will the arrival of Julio Jones change the team’s approach to run-first? Tennessee passed only 37% of the time when up by two scores last season. If that continues, it could put a cap on A.J. Brown and Jones’ potential for truly massive weeks.

Way at the bottom of the list is the Raiders, who passed just 18% of the time when up by two scores — a mark so much lower than the rest of the league that it really stands out. There isn’t much actionable there, as the Raiders only led by 9-plus on 3% of their plays last year, but it does lower Derek Carr’s potential for huge games.

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