Game script. Positive. Negative. Neutral. We hear these terms more and more as folks discuss the advantages and disadvantages of players under different game scenarios.
To help fantasy managers use this data to help them in their upcoming drafts, I looked at how each of the four major offensive skill positions (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs) did, based on fantasy points when their team won or lost. To spin that to the future, I also examined projected over/under totals for wins and losses for this season.
Let's start this research project with the quarterbacks. Players were required to start at least eight games, so a player like Dak Prescott (who started just five games) was not included. Since the Kansas City Chiefs lost just one game in the regular season, I put a minimum of 40 combined pass attempts in either scenario (wins or losses). Ties were not considered in this exercise. Let’s find out how the information can help us for 2021!
Negative Win/Loss Point Differentials
Note: The total to the right of the player’s name is the decline in average fantasy points he experienced in losses compared to his average fantasy points in his wins. Kyler Murray, for example, averaged 10.7 more points in wins than in losses last season.
1. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (-10.7, O/U 8.5)
Murray had the biggest difference in points among quarterbacks, averaging 29 in eight wins and 18.3 points in his eight losses. His average in losses still ranked 10th at the position, but he was clearly better when the Cardinals won. Murray also averaged right around 14 more rushing yards, and nine of his rushing touchdowns came in victories. Based on 2020 win percentages, the Cardinals have the 13th-toughest schedule in '21.
2. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (-9.9, O/U 12)
Brady’s point differential in wins in losses is notable because he was eighth in points in wins (24.2 PPG) but 23rd in losses (14.3 PPG) among quarterbacks with at least 40 pass attempts in losses. He also averaged just 1.6 touchdown passes in his five losses, compared to 2.9 in wins. Luckily, the Bucs have the second-highest over/under (12) and the fourth-easiest strength of schedule heading into 2021.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (-9.8, O/U 10.5)
Rodgers is back in Green Bay for at least one more year, much to the delight of Packers and fantasy fans alike. However, it is interesting that he was far better in wins (25.8 PPG) than in losses (16 PPG) last season. The good news is that the Packers lost a mere three games in 2020, and their over/under total heading into this season is a solid 10.5. The bad news is that they have the fourth-most difficult schedule in the league.
4. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (-7.4, O/U 11)
Jackson had an uneven fantasy season in 2020, but he was much better when leading his team to a win. He ranked ninth among QBs in fantasy points during victories (24.2 PPG), but was under 17 fantasy points a game during four losses. Here’s the good news: The Ravens have the third-highest over/under total (11) heading into the season. Unfortunately, Baltimore also has the second-most difficult slate of games in '21.
5. Justin Herbert, Chargers (-7.3, O/U 9.5)
Herbert ranked fourth among quarterbacks with at least 40 pass attempts in wins with an average of 26.6 points a game, averaging 2.3 touchdown passes. He was less successful in losses (19.3 PPG), but he ranked fifth at the position when the Chargers lost last season. Los Angeles ranks 17th in terms of strength of schedule, which doesn't tilt things one way of the other. Clearly, Herbert is one of the top options in 2021.
- Deshaun Watson (-7.1) ranked sixth in point differential in wins and losses, but he was still third best when the Texans lost at 21.3 points a game. Whether he plays this year, for the Texans or otherwise, remains a major question across the NFL.
- Ben Roethlisberger (-6.3) lost just three games last season, but he was among the worst quarterbacks in the league (12.8 PPG) in those contests. The Steelers over/under is 8.5, and they also have the toughest schedule in the league.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (-6.3) and Josh Allen (-6.3) tied Big Ben for the seventh-biggest point differential in wins against losses, but Allen averaged 19.6 points in losses. Fitzmagic’s total dropped to 13.6 PPG, but that of course came with the Dolphins.
Best Win/Loss Point Differentials
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (+5.1, O/U 12.5)
I’m mentioning Mahomes here because, well, he’s Mahomes. But the Chiefs lost just one contest last season, and Mahomes scored 29.7 points in that game. Kansas City has the highest over/under (12.5) this season, but it matters little to the value of this superstar quarterback. Mahomes will be the first quarterback selected in most drafts. Kansas City will face the 11th-most difficult schedule, if you're wondering.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (+4.2, O/U 9)
Tagovailoa wasn't particularly good in either wins (12.3) or losses (16.5) a season ago, but he's still considered one of the better late-round sleepers in 2021 fantasy drafts. Also, keep in mind that he had just two pass attempts in one of the wins he appeared in last season. In the other six wins, Tagovailoa averaged 14.3 fantasy points per contest. The Dolphins also have the fifth-easiest slate of games heading into the season.
3. Joe Burrow, Bengals (+0.1, O/U 6.5)
Burrow didn't have much of a difference in fantasy points scored in wins (17 PPG) and losses (17.1 PPG) during his rookie season. However, the Bengals did finish with one tie in his 10 starts, and Burrow scored 20.4 points in that contest against the Eagles. Their over/under total is 6.5 and they face the sixth-toughest schedule in the league, but that shouldn't matter much regarding his draft value.
4. Drew Lock, Broncos (-1.5, O/U 9)
Lock wasn't impressive last season, averaging fewer than 14 fantasy points per game regardless of the outcome. He was slightly better in wins (15 PPG), but Lock had more than 19 fantasy points in just four games. Two came in wins, and two in losses. Lock isn't a "lock" to be the Broncos starter, but Denver has an over/under of nine. They also have the sixth-easiest schedule, which should benefit the eventual winner.
5. Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos (-2.1, O/U 9)
Bridgewater will compete with Lock to be the No. 1 quarterback in Denver this season, but let's look at his 2020 totals with the Panthers. While he was 2.1 points better in wins than in losses, Bridgewater still ranked just 22nd in points among winning field generals. I do like him to be the Broncos' Week 1 starter ahead of Lock, regardless.
- Derek Carr (-2.4) averaged 18.2 points per game in the Raiders win last season. That was good for 20th among quarterbacks. Las Vegas is projected with an over/under of 8.5 this year, and they'll face the eighth-most difficult schedule in the league.
- Kirk Cousins (-2.9) was three points better in wins (20.8 PPG) as compared to losses (17.9 PPG). The Vikings have an over/under of nine and the fifth toughest schedule.
- Jared Goff (-4.3) averaged 17.1 fantasy points in nine wins in what was his final season with the Rams. He was far worse in losses, averaging just 13.4 points. Now the starter for the Lions, they're projected over/under total is a mere 4.5.
"The Fantasy Case Against" Series
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!