Stats can’t, and never will, tell the whole story in fantasy football, but they can tell a very valuable chapter. With NFL training camps starting next week, and the preseason not long after that, it means the fantasy season is finally here. Before you draft your team for the 2017 season, or start doing your prep work, I’ve compiled a list of 185 fantasy football facts I think you’ll find interesting and helpful.
As for how I got to 185, I just started compiling facts and then added them up. I wasn’t going to delete any of the work just to get to a nice round number like 150. My hope is that a few times you’ll go “wait, really?” when reading these stats and facts. And of course, that it’ll help you win your league.
So here’s what I have in this very lengthy piece. Unlike other fantasy facts pieces from Matthew Berry of ESPN and Draft Sharks (I’d recommend reading those as well, especially Berry since he's still the OG of fantasy), I broke them down by each player and a general "regression candidates" section at the beginning. Hopefully that makes it a little bit easier to digest.
All average draft positions (ADP) and previous years numbers are based on the stats from fantasydata.com. Pro Football Reference’s stats were critical as well at various points, so a big shout-out to both sites. I’ve also counted ADP as a stat for many players, as it underscores many of the points I’m trying to make.
All ADPs are of July 16th, when I finished gathering all the data and putting this piece together. Unless otherwise mentioned, all numbers are based on standard leagues. Sorry, PPR-users, but I do have handful of stats for you guys.
There’s a chance I’ve botched at least one number somewhere in this piece, I’m my own Stats & Info team, after all. So if you find a mistake (or have any fantasy questions, comments, etc) - let me know on Twitter.
Okay, with that semi-long intro out of the way, let’s get to some of the stats (after one more explanation section sorry).
Some Regression Candidates
The reality of fantasy football is that players’ production fluctuates from year to year. That production fluctuation is sometimes minimal, but other times it’s drastic. Often times, that’s due to regression. Players have a career year one season, and then naturally fall back down to earth. However, regression can also go both ways, with players improving.
For this section, I’m taking a close look at the percentage of catches/carries for RBs, WRs TEs. Players with an abnormally high (or low) percentage are likely to come back closer to mean this year.
The TD to carry ratio among all RBs, not just starters, was 3.32 percent. For reference among some top-end starters, David Johnson and LeSean McCoy were at about 5.5 percent, while Ezekiel Elliott was 4.65 percent.
The average TD to catch ratio is six percent for all players, not just starters or WRs. For a better reference point: Antonio Brown had 11 percent, while Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas all had about 10 percent. That’s closer to the sustainable average for top-tier fantasy WRs.
TEs feature a much larger gap, which isn’t a surprise given the flukiness the position has sometimes. Somewhere in the 10 percent range is a better indication of the upper edge of likely repeatable numbers.
1. Blount finished the season as the No. 7 RB last year. He scored on six percent of his carries.
2. Blount had 75 percent of the Patriots’ carries inside the five-yard line, tied for sixth best in the NFL. Soon-to-be-former Eagles RB Ryan Mathews had 64 percent, 13th in the NFL.
3. The previous three seasons, Blount’s best finish was as the No. 29 RB.
4. Blount is the 21st RB off the board.
5. Turbin scored on nearly 15 percent of his carries last year, nearly double that of any other notable RB.
6. Gurley scored on only 2.15 percent of his carries.
7. Gurley hasn’t topped 90 yards in a game since Week 14. In 2015.
8. Gurley finished as the No. 20 RB last year and the No. 27th based on per game average. He was the fifth RB in 2015.
9. Gurley is the No. 11 RB being drafted.
10. Cooper had 13 red zone targets last year, third on his team. Only 6.1 percent of his catches went for TDs.
11. Cooper finished as the No. 12 fantasy WR, while teammate Michael Crabtree (more on him below) was 11th.
12. He’s the 10th WR being drafted.
13. Crabtree led all Raiders WRs in red zone targets, with nine percent of his catches going for TDs.
14. Crabtree was the No. 11 fantasy WR last year and the 19th in 2015.
15. He’s the 24th WR being drafted.
16. Adams finished as the No. 7 fantasy WR last year. Sixteen percent of his catches went for TDs last season.
17. Adams is the 19th WR being drafted.
18. Stills was the No. 36 WR last year. Over 21 percent of his catches were TDs last year: the second most of any notable WR.
19. Stills is the 64th WR off the board.
20. Shepard was the No. 37 fantasy WR last year. He was tied for first on the team in red zone catches and 12.3 percent of his catches went for TDs.
21. The Giants signed WR Brandon Marshall and drafted TE Evan Engram. Shepard is the No. 57 WR off the board.
22. Moncrief was the No. 34 WR based on points per game last year, but wasn’t a Top 50 WR overall because he only played nine games. A whopping 23 percent of his catches went for TDs last year.
23. In 2015, Moncrief was the No. 38 overall WR, but 46th based on points per game.
24. He’s the No. 28 overall WR off the board.
25. Walker has finished as the No. 5 TE for back-to-back years. Before that, he was ninth and 12th.
26. However, 10.77 percent of his catches went for TDs last year. The previous two seasons, it was at 6.38 percent and 6.35 percent.
27. If Walker’s percentage falls back to 6.3ish, he ends up with four TDs instead of seven. That puts his numbers at 65 catches, 800 yards and four TDs.
28. His 2014 stat line was 63 catches for 890 yards and 4 TDs. He finished ninth that year.
29. Walker is the No. 8 TE off the board.
30. Ebron was the No. 15 TE last year. He had just six red zone targets, fifth on the Lions. Just 1.64 percent of his catches went for TDs.
31. Ebron finished 12th among TEs in 2015.
32. Ebron is the No. 14 TE off the board.
31. In his six years as a QB, Newton has finished as a top-four QB in four of those years. He finished as the No. 17 QB in both of the other two seasons.
32. In those two years, Newton missed time with injuries, but was 13th and ninth per game among QBs. Last year was Newton’s worst fantasy season.
33. He’s the seventh QB being drafted right now, one spot behind Derek Carr.
34. He’s coming off his best fantasy season, finishing 10th overall and 10th in points per game. In 2015, Carr was 15th overall in fantasy points and 20th per game.
35. Carr is the sixth QB off the board in drafts.
36. In home games last year, Roethlisberger averaged 24.65 points per game. That would have led all fantasy QBs.
37. In road games last year, Roethlisberger averaged just 13.06 points per game. That would have been 30th among fantasy QBs. That’s less than Robert Griffin III, Blaine Gabbert, Trevor Siemian and Brian Hoyer.
38. Since 2010, Roethlisberger has one top 10 finish among fantasy QBs, when he finished fifth in 2014 and played in all 16 games.
39. In his 13 seasons in the NFL, Big Ben has played in all 16 games just three times.
40. Roethlisberger is the ninth QB being drafted.
41. Since Brees joined the Saints in 2006, he has finished as a top six fantasy QB each year.
42. Brees has been the No. 1 or No. 2 QB in four of those 11 years.
43. Excluding 2013, when he was hurt, Rodgers has finished as the No. 1 or No. 2 QB in seven of the last eight years.
44. Brady was the 15th QB overall in fantasy last year. But, he was 3rd in fantasy points per game.
45. Since 2002, he has three top-two fantasy finishes. In that time frame, Brady has four non-top 10 finishes. That doesn’t count the year he missed with injury.
46. Brady is the second QB being taken in drafts.
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47. Since 2008, Rivers has finished as a Top 12 QB every year but twice: 2012 and last year. He finished 14th overall and 18th in points per game.
48. His points per game averages have dropped for three straight years: 8th, 15th, 17th and 18th.
49. Rivers is the 14th QB off the board.
50. Stafford finished seventh overall among fantasy QBs and 11th per game last year.
51. After the Lions’ bye week, Stafford had six touchdowns and averaged just 15.75 points per game. That would have been 21st among all fantasy QBs.
52. In the last six years, Stafford has finished as a top 10 QB four times. The two years Stafford finished outside the top 10, he was 15th and 11th.
53. Stafford is the 15th QB off the board.
54. Since 2006, Manning has three top 10 finishes overall and one based on points per game. He has two finishes outside the Top 20, including 21st overall last year.
55. Manning is the 16th QB off the board.
56. Cousins has finished as a Top 8 QB each of the past two years, including fifth last season. He’s the 10th QB off the board.
57. Taylor finished as the eighth overall QB and the seventh based on points per game last year. In 2015, Taylor was the No. 14 overall QB and eighth in points per game.
58. Taylor is the 17th QB off the board.
59. Montgomery had one game with double-digit carries last year: against the Chicago Bears. That game accounted for nearly 30 percent of his fantasy points in standard leagues.
60. Montgomery finished as the No. 38 RB in standard leagues and No. 33 in PPR leagues.
61. He averaged only 8.77 points per game in his last 11 games, tied for 33rd among RBs.
62. The Packers drafted two RBs in the first five rounds this year. Montgomery is the No. 22 running back off the board in drafts.
63. Gore only scored on 1.52 percent of his carries and still finished as the No. 12 fantasy RB.
64. Since 2006, Frank Gore has finished as a Top 20 fantasy running back in every season. He has back-to-back years as the No. 12 fantasy RB.
65. Gore is 34 years old, the oldest RB currently on an NFL team.
66. Frank Gore is 33rd RB off the board.
67. Excluding Week 17 (when he was injured), Johnson was a top 15 fantasy RB in every game last year.
68. Johnson caught 80 passes for 879 yards and 4 TDs last year. That alone was 30th in PPR leagues among WRs.
69. Johnson led all non-QB fantasy players in points in standard leagues. He averaged nearly a full point more than the second place player, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott. In PPR, Johnson led all players in points.
70. Over the past three years, Bell has finished as the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 2 running back based on per game averages.
71. Crowell has never missed a game in his NFL career. He was seventh among all RBs, with at least 10 carries per game, in yards per carry.
72. The Browns signed an expensive new starting center (J.C. Tretter) and guard (Kevin Zeitler). Hue Jackson said he beats himself up about not giving Crowell the ball more.
73. Crowell finished as the No. 14 RB in fantasy last year. That’s exactly where he’s currently being drafted.
74. In the past five years, McCoy has finished as a Top 10 RB twice (four times in his career and third last year) based on overall points. He has started all 16 games just twice.
75. Excluding his rookie year, McCoy has finished as a top 20 RB based on points per game every season.
76. The past three years, Ingram has finished at least as the No. 15 RB in fantasy. He’s been the 14th, 8th and 9th RB based on points per game.
77. Ingram scored on just 2.93 percent of his carries last year.
78. The Saints signed Adrian Peterson (who was hurt and had six fantasy points in three games last year) and drafted Alvin Kamara on Day 2.
79. Peterson is the 19th RB off the board. Ingram is the 30th.
80. Ajayi scored on three percent of his carries last year, en route to finishing as the No. 11 fantasy RB.
81. Ajayi ran for 200 yards three times last year. Those three games accounted for 46 percent of his fantasy production.
82. Excluding the first four weeks of the season, Ajayi averaged 14.37 points per game. That would have been eighth among RBs.
83. Excluding the 200 yard games and the four early in the year in which he wasn’t many carries, Ajayi averaged just 9.46 points per game. That’s 29th among RBs.
84. Ajayi is the No. 7 RB being drafted.
85. Ware was the No. 16 RB based on overall points and per game average.
86. In the first six games of the year, Ware averaged 14.95 points per game. That would have ranked him seventh among all RBs.
87. In the final 10 games (excluding one he missed), Ware averaged 8.43 points per game. That’s 36th among RBs.
88. The Chiefs drafted Kareem Hunt in the third round this year. Ware is the 18th RB off the board.
89. Two teams have ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in carries each of the past four years: the Panthers and Bengals.
90. Jeremy Hill has had at least 233 carries each of the last three years. That’s four fewer carries than Devonta Freeman, who was the No. 6 RB last year.
91. The Bengals spent a second round pick on Joe Mixon. He’s the 15th RB off the board.
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92. Freeman had 84 percent of the Falcons’ carries inside the five-yard line. That’s the second-highest percentage, behind only Melvin Gordon of the Chargers.
93. Freeman has finished as a Top 6 back in two straight years. That’s exactly where he’s being drafted.
94. Murray scored on just three percent of his carries and finished sixth among RBs.
95. Murray has finished as a top seven RB in three of the past four years. That lone year came in Philadelphia, where Murray finished 18th.
96. Murray is the eighth RB off the board.
97. Howard scored on just 2.38 percent of his carries last year and finished as the No. 9 RB.
98. Excluding the first two games of the year, Howard’s 14.14 points per game would have ranked eighth among RBs. Over the last nine weeks of the season, Howard averaged 15.67 points per game, which would have been sixth among all RBs.
99. Chicago has had a top 10 RB for four straight seasons.
100. Howard is the ninth RB off the board.
101. Latavius Murray had 12 touchdowns on 195 carries last year. He had the fourth highest percentage of carries inside the 10-yard line of any RB. He finished 12th among all RBs in fantasy.
102. When Lynch last played for the Seahawks in 2015, he was 26th in points per game and finished outside the top 50 overall.
103. Lynch is the 10th RB being drafted and 17th player overall.
104. Coleman was the No. 18 RB last year and 15th based on points per game. He’s the 28th RB off the board.
105. Benjamin was the No. 20 overall fantasy WR last year and 24th based on points per game.
106. He had 28 percent of his fantasy points in this two weeks of the season. The rest of the year, he averaged 6.87 points per game. That’s outside the Top 50 among WRs.
107. Benjamin is the 27th WR being drafted.
108. In his eight years in the NFL, Mike Wallace has finished as a Top 30 WR in seven. Of those seven, he’s finished as a Top 25 WR all but once.
109. Wallace is the 51st WR off the board.
110. Brown has finished as either the No. 1 overall WR or the No. 1 WR based on points per game for three straight years.
111. Jones had nine red zone targets all season. That was sixth on the Falcons alone. Just 7.22 percent of Jones catches went for TDs.
112. Jones finished as the No. 6 WR last year and fourth based on points per game. He’s finished as a top 10 WR based on per game averages every year he’s been in the NFL.
113. Jones has started all 16 games once in his NFL career. That came in 2015: he was the No. 2 WR in fantasy that year.
114. A.J. Green was the No. 34 overall WR last year, but was eighth based on points per game. In three of his last five years, Green has finished as a Top six or better WR based on per game averages.
115. Only six percent of his catches went for TDs last year.
116. Green is the No. 5 WR off the board.
117. In 2014, 2013 and 2012, Dez Bryant finished as the fourth, sixth and third WR in fantasy. After an injuries totally ruined his 2015 season (didn’t finish near the Top 50), Bryant was 25th last year.
118. He was 13th based on points per game. That’s in part to 17 percent of his catches going for TDs.
119. Bryant is the 10th WR off the board.
120. Excluding last year, Decker has finished as a Top 10 WR in three of the last four years. The year he didn’t finish that high came in 2014, when he was 28th.
121. Marcus Mariota has thrown 33 red zone TDs with zero interceptions. From that 2012 to 2015 time frame, Decker has 31 TDs in the red zone. That’s second behind only Brandon Marshall.
122. Decker is the 40th WR off the board.
123. Thielen was the No. 29 overall WR last year in both standard and PPR leagues.
124. He had a 32 point game (in standard scoring) against the Packers in Week 16. That game accounted for nearly 26 percent of his fantasy production.
125. Thielen is the 52nd WR off the board.
126. Thomas finished as the No. 9 WR overall last year, despite missing one game. He caught 76 percent of his passes, one less than Cole Beasley, who led all WRs with at least 50 targets.
127. If Thomas gets the most targets on any Saints WR since Drew Brees arrived, his volume increases by two percent. If he gets the most of any player (i.e. including Jimmy Graham), it’s a 4.52 percent boost.
128. With the 4.52 percent increase, Thomas puts up about 102 catches for about 1,263 yards and 10 TDs (or 186 fantasy points). That would have ranked fifth among WRs last year. However, that would have been an average of 10th the previous three years.
129. If it’s just the two percent increase, Thomas finishes with 183 fantasy points. The rank in previous years actually doesn’t change.
130. Thomas is the seventh WR off the board.
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131. Nelson was injured in 2015, but was a Top 3 WR the year before and after. But, 14 percent of his catches went for TDs last year.
132. He’s the No. 6 WR off the board.
133. The Jets cut WRs Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Enunwa is the team’s leading returning WR, finishing 42nd last year. Only 6.9 percent of his catches went for TDs.
134. Enunwa is the 46th WR being drafted.
135. Cooks was the No. 9 fantasy WR last year. The Patriots haven’t had a top 10 fantasy WR (in standard leagues), since 2011.
136. Cooks is the No. 12 WR off the board.
137. Baldwin has finished as Top 10 WR for two straight years. He’s the 11th WR off the board.
138. Sanders has been at least the No. 21 WR in each of the last three years. He’s the 35th off the board.
139. In the last eight years, Fitzgerald has finished as a Top 20 WR in six of those years.
140. He was No. 17 last year. Only 5.6 percent of his catches went for TDs.
141. Fitzgerald is the No. 30 WR being drafted. He’s finished that low just twice in the past 10 years.
142. In the last five years, Tate has finished as the No. 23, 34, 13, 29 and 34 WR in fantasy.
143. He had just 15.4 points total in the first five weeks of the year. The rest of the season, Tate averaged 10.6 points per game. That would have ranked 10th among all WRs.
144. Tate is the 29th WR being drafted.
145. Just seven percent of Hilton’s catches went for TDs last year. He was fifth among all WRs in fantasy last year.
146. He’s the eighth WR off the board.
147. Landry has finished as the No. 16 overall WR for two straight years in standard leagues. He’s the No. 23 WR being drafted.
148. Bryant has played 21 games in his NFL career (2015 and 2014). In that time frame, Bryant has averaged 10.68 points per game. That ranked him 15th in per game points both seasons. But those numbers would have ranked 10th last year.
149. He ranked 33rd in 2015 and 42nd in 2014 in overall points, due to injury and suspension.
150. He’s the 22nd WR off the board in drafts.
151. Tyrell Williams was the No. 16 overall WR last year. The Chargers now get back the injured Keenan Allen and drafted Mike Williams in the first round. In his only other season, Tyrell Williams had 15 fantasy points.
152. Allen had 6.3 points in one half of a game last year. He was the No. 11 WR based on per game averages in 2015, the 42nd in 2014 and the 21st in his rookie year.
153. Allen has never played in all 16 games in his NFL career.
154. Allen is the No. 21 WR off the board, Tyrell Williams the 48th and Mike Williams the 47th.
155. Rishard Matthews was the No. 17 fantasy WR last year. His best previous year came in 2015, when he finished 48th. Matthews has no other Top 50 efforts.
156. The Titans drafted WR Corey Davis in the first round and signed WR Eric Decker (more on him above).
157. Decker is the 40th WR drafted, Davis the 41st and Matthews the 50th.
Bad Target Rates:
Time for a mini section that I found more interesting than useful.
158. Devin Funchess caught 40 percent of his targets this year (worst of anyone with at least 25 targets). That’s down from his 49.2 percent in 2015.
159. The next worst for 2016 only? Torrey Smith.
160. J.J. Nelson was below 50 percent past two years.
161. Funchess is the 73rd WR being drafted, one spot after J.J. Nelson. Smith is the 80th WR.
162. Kelce was the No. 1 overall fantasy TE last year, but third based on points per game. He was eighth overall the previous two seasons.
163. Only five percent of his catches went for TDs last year.
164. He’s No. 2 TE off the board.
165. Only 3.75 percent of Olsen’s catches went for TDs last year. He has finished as a top four TE for three straight years.
166. He’s the fourth TE off the board in drafts.
167. Just like Kelce, five percent of Ertz' catches last year went for TDs.
168. Ertz has steadily improved as a fantasy player, going from 20th overall to 14th to 10th and then to eighth last year.
169. The final nine games of the season, Ertz averaged 10 points per game. No player, not even Rob Gronkowski, averaged that many points per game last year.
170. Ertz is the 12th TE off the board.
171. After a bad 2015, Graham finished as the No. 4 fantasy TE last year. Before 2015, he had four straight top 3 finishes.
172. Of Graham’s catches, 9.23 percent went for TDs.
173. Graham is the No. 5 TE in drafts.
174. Kyle Rudolph was the No. 3 fantasy TE last year. However, he was just the seventh based on per game averages. 8.43 percent of Rudolph’s catches went for TDs.
175. The previous two years, Rudolph was 14th overall and 37th overall. He was 23rd in points per game and 26th, respectively.
176. Rudolph is the No. 10 TE in drafts.
177. Doyle was the No. 13 TE last year. Of his catches, 8.47 percent were TDs. Dwayne Allen, now with the Patriots, was 18th among TEs. He had 17 percent of his catches result in TDs.
178. Doyle is the No. 13 TE in drafts.
179. The past two years, Eifert has finished as the No. 2, 3 TE based on per game averages.
180. Eifert’s production was due in part to 17 percent of his catches going for TDs. In 2015, it was 25 percent.
181. Eifert has played in 22 games of a possible 48 games the past three years. Since entering the NFL, Eifert has one year as an overall Top 10 TE.
182. Eifert is the No. 6 TE in drafts.
183. Antonio Gates finished as the No. 10 TE in fantasy last year. Since 2004, Gates has finished as a top 12 TE in each season.
184. 13.2 percent of Gates’ catches went for TDs last year, while Hunter Henry had a 22 percent rate. Henry finished as the No. 11 TE last year.
185. Henry is the No. 9 TE in drafts, while Gates is 26th.
Ok gang, that’s it. Thanks to everyone who read the whole thing.Back to the Fantasy Football Newsfeed