On average, passing yards is a pretty meaningless measure of quarterback play. Consider that the winning team and the losing team in a game both generally throw for about the same number of yards. Last year, for example, winning teams averaged 258 gross passing yards per game, while losing teams averaged 259. In 2013, it was 253 for the winners, 251 for the losers. In 2012, it was 246 for the winners, 248 for the losers. Since 2000, winning teams have averaged about 5 more passing yards per game, thanks mostly to 2009 (244 for winning teams, 222 for losing) and 2014 (261/242) as big outliers.
Joe Flacco, for example, has averaged 233 passing yards per game in wins and 231 in losses. But just because the averages are close together doesn’t mean every quarterback follows this same formula. And two of the best examples of that are Nick Foles and Blake Bortles.
Foles has lost 17 games where he was the starting quarterback; in those games, his average stat line was 21/38 for 214 passing yards, 0.7 TDs and 1.1 INTs. He also has started and won 19 games; in those games, his average stat line was 19/30, for 258 passing yards, 2.1 TDs, and 0.4 INTs. That paints the picture of a guy who is much better in wins than losses, which makes a lot of sense. (Also, 7 of his 17 losses have come during his ugly time with the Rams, compared to just 4 of 19 wins.)
But just when you think quarterbacks might have better stats in wins, you get someone like Bortles. In 21 losses, he’s 23/38 for 262 yards, with 1.5 TDs and 1.3 INTs. That’s a lot of yards for someone who is losing games — it’s more than Foles has in his wins! But in 8 wins, Bortles is 18/32 for just 200 yards with 1.6 TDs and 0.8 INTs. In 29 career starts, Bortles is 5-5 when throwing for less than 200 yards, 3-6 when throwing for 200-274 yards, and 0-10 when throwing for 275+ yards. That’s decidedly unFolesian. Of course, Bortles is throwing more because of negative Game Scripts.
For fantasy football purposes, you may want to try to find the quarterback who will accumulate the most stats. In some ways, it might feel like you want guys like Bortles, who have to throw because of Game Script. It’s easy to think that quarterbacks are always padding stats in losses, but that’s not as common as you think.
The table below shows the average gross passing yards by the winning and losing teams in each game since 1970:
|Year||Pass Yds in Wins||Pass Yds in Losses||Diff|
As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments.