25 Stats You Need To Know Ahead of Your Fantasy Football Drafts

Pick sleepers and avoid busts with these stats from Fabs.
East Rutherford, NJ     December 31, 2023 -- Puka Nacua of the Rams in the first half. The New York Giants host the Los Angeles Rams on December 31, 2023 at at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
East Rutherford, NJ December 31, 2023 -- Puka Nacua of the Rams in the first half. The New York Giants host the Los Angeles Rams on December 31, 2023 at at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. / Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA

Stats. They can be deceiving, especially in the world of fantasy football.

Case in point … in 2022, Miles Sanders rushed for over 1,200 yards, scored 11 total touchdowns, and was the RB15. Seems pretty good, right? Well, what if I told you he scored fewer than 12 points in 10-of-17 games (59%), and 41 percent of his points came in three games? Suddenly, Sanders isn’t looking so good … and that showed in 2023.

With that in mind, I dove into the numbers and picked out 25 nuggets you need to know before you draft your fantasy football teams in 2024. Some surround false perceptions of players, like Sanders in 2022, while others point out how coaching changes did and could affect future player outcomes. Others discuss player personnel moves and how those will positively or negatively affect how a player performs in 2024.

So, sit back, relax, read and make sure to keep these nuggets in mind when you draft!

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen averaged 22.5 fantasy points in 10 games with Ken Dorsey as the offensive coordinator last season. During that time, the Bills ranked 13th in pass percentage and 20th in run percentage. When Dorsey was fired and the Bills promoted Joe Brady, Allen averaged 24.1 points (seven games). The Bills went from 13th to 31st in pass percentage and from 20th to second in run percentage. Those are notable differences.

C.J. Stroud threw the ball 499 times last season. That tied for 14th among quarterbacks. His leading receivers, Nico Collins and Tank Dell, averaged 7.3 targets and 6.8 targets per game, respectively. Stefon Diggs, acquired in a trade with the Bills, averaged 9.4 targets per game last season. If we project these target totals over a full season, Stroud would throw the ball 400 times to Diggs, Collins and Dell alone for them to meet those averages.

In Kliff Kingsbury’s five seasons as the head coach in Arizona, Kyler Murray averaged 6.5 rushes and 37.7 rushing yards per game. He also rushed for 26 touchdowns. That is good news for rookie Jayden Daniels, who will work under Kingsbury in Washington. In his final two seasons at LSU, Daniels rushed 321 times for 2,019 yards and 21 scores.

Jared Goff is scheduled to play 14 of his 17 games this season in either a dome or a retractable roof stadium. In his 25 career home games in Detroit, Goff has averaged 19.3 fantasy points. Ford Field, of course, is a dome. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in six road games in a dome or retractable roof stadium as  a member of the Lions, Goff has averaged a mere 10.5 points. So, even if he’s played in a dome or retractable roof stadium, Goff has still not finished with great numbers when he hasn’t played at home.

The Los Angeles Chargers ranked seventh in pass percentage last season with Kellen Moore leading the offense. Justin Herbert averaged 35.1 pass attempts in 13 games. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman has served as OC for three different teams in 10 years at the NFL level. In that time, his offenses finished 30th, 30th, 32nd, 26th, 32nd, 31st, 32nd, 21st and 30th in pass percentage. The most pass attempts one of his field generals has averaged was Lamar Jackson (31.8 in 2021). He is the lone quarterback to average more than 30 pass attempts per game under Roman. That’s bad news for Herbert.

Matthew Stafford finished last season as the QB15, averaging 16.2 points per game. It was a tale of two seasons, however, as Stafford averaged 251.1 passing yards, 13.5 fantasy points and scored nine touchdowns in his first nine games. Over his final six starts, he averaged 284.1 passing yards, 20.3 points and threw 15 touchdowns. In that span, Stafford scored at least 18.5 points in five straight games. He had strung together five straight such performance just once before in his career (2013). Also notable is that Stafford averaged 17 points in the 11 games where he had both Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua available.

Deshaun Watson has started and finished 11 games over the last two seasons with the Browns, averaging 15.8 fantasy points. It should be noted, however, that he was better last season (17.7 points per game) than in 2022, when he averaged just 14.3 points after an extended absence from the league due to off-field issues. That includes three games where he scored at least 18.9 points. While it was just five games, Watson was still an asset.

The Cincinnati Bengals ranked second in pass percentage last year under former offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. On the flip side, the team ranked 31st in run percentage. By comparison, the Tennessee Titans, Callahan’s new team, were 24th in pass percentage and ninth in run percentage. With Callahan now leading the Titans offense and Derrick Henry no longer on the roster, those numbers are destined to change. That’s good news for Will Levis, who has some fantasy sleeper/breakout appeal in what should be a pass-laden attack.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs played 13 games last season, averaging 20.7 touches and 13.9 points. He also averaged 2.6 yards per rush, which was a drop of almost three full yards compared to 2022. When Jacobs missed the last four games, Zamir White took over as the main running back in Las Vegas. He averaged 23.3 touches and 15.2 points during that time, bettering Jacobs in both categories. With Jacobs now in Green Bay, White will be a popular breakout back.

James Cook averaged 14.4 touches (12 rushes) and 11.8 fantasy points in 10 games with Ken Dorsey at the helm of the Bills offense. When Joe Brady took over as the new offensive coordinator, Cook averaged 19.6 touches (16.7 rushes) and 16.4 PPR points. That’s an increase of nearly five fantasy points under Brady’s guidance. Cook could be on the verge of a big season, so I can see him being picked as early as the third round in drafts.

The addition of Zach Charbonnet didn’t put a huge dent into Ken Walker’s touch share last season. In 14 games where both running backs were active, Walker averaged 16 touches to Charbonnet’s 7.4 touches. In his first two seasons in the NFL, before the Seahawks drafted Charbonnet, Walker averaged 17 and 16.5 touches, respectively. So, unless things change with the new coaching staff, Walker should still be seen as a solid No. 2 runner.

Raheem Mostert averaged 15.6 touches and 17.9 fantasy points in 15 games last season. In six contests played without De’Vone Achane, he averaged 14.5 touches and 16.6 points. In nine games played with Achane in the lineup, Mostert averaged 16.3 touches and 18.7 points. So, Mostert was surprisingly better and more productive when Achane was active.

Najee Harris averaged 16.7 touches and 11.6 fantasy points per game last season. He also averaged 0.69 points per touch. His teammate, Jaylen Warren, averaged 12.4 touches and 11.5 points per game. He averaged 0.94 points per touch. So, while Harris is going a few rounds higher than Warren in drafts based on current ADP data, the latter runner was more efficient last season and will no doubt be a better bargain in your fantasy drafts.

Aaron Jones scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in all but three of his first eight games of last season. In that time, he averaged 12.8 touches, 3.8 yards per rush and 10.9 points. Over his final three regular-season games, however, he averaged 23.3 touches, 5.7 yards per rush and 15.9 points. If we also include his two playoff games, Jones averaged 22.6 touches, 5.7 yards per rush and 19.4 points in his final five contests. He rushed for 100-plus yards in every game. Before this magical stretch, Jones had never rushed for 100-plus yards in more than two consecutive games in his career. When you also consider that his overall points-per-game average has declined five straight years dating back to 2019, and that incredibly productive stretch of games looks like a massive outlier.

In six games as the featured running back in New England last season, Ezekiel Elliott averaged 20 touches (14.8 rushes). He averaged just 2.9 yards per rush, however, and 66 percent of his total PPR fantasy points in those games came as a receiver. Now back in Dallas, I wouldn’t expect a lot from Zeke as a runner. In fact, he’ll need to be used as a receiver and get the majority of the red zone carries to hit his flex starter ceiling.

Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson averaged 7.2 catches, 114.2 yards and scored three touchdowns in five games with Kirk Cousins under center last season. In those games, he averaged 21.8 fantasy points. In his five games without Cousins (Nick Mullen was under center), he averaged 6.4 catches, 100.6 yards and scored two touchdowns. Jefferson still put up a solid 18.6 points per game in those contests. With Cousins now in Minnesota, Jefferson will be catching passes from either rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy or veteran journeyman Sam Darnold. It’s a downgrade, but he’s still a top-five wideout.

Speaking of Cousins, just 12.5 percent of his throws last season could be labeled as “bad” (excluding spikes or throwaways). His catchable throw percentage was 81.4. In Atlanta, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke threw “bad” passes almost 20 percent of the time. Ridder’s catchable throw percentage was 75.5, while Heinicke’s was 63.2. Their combined off-target throw percentage was 22.8. Obviously, Cousins’ presence is great news for the fantasy potential of breakout candidate Drake London, whose ADP is moving up.

Puka Nacua played 12 games with Cooper Kupp last season. He averaged 5.2 catches, 78.7 yards and scored four touchdowns in those games. His fantasy point average was 15.7. In the five games Nacua played without Kupp, he averaged 8.6 catches, 108.4 yards and scored two touchdowns. His fantasy point average was 21.9 points. That is more than a six-point increase in games where Kupp was out. If Kupp can avoid injuries this season, Nacua, a first-round fantasy selection, will be hard-pressed to duplicate his 2023 totals.

Davante Adams averaged 6.5 catches, 67 yards and scored five touchdowns in 11 games with Aidan O’Connell under center for the Las Vegas Raiders. In that time, he averaged 15.9 fantasy points. He also scored 12-plus PPR points in all but two games, including five games with more than 15 points. If we project his average points scored with O’Connell under center over 17 games, Adams will score 270 points. That would be slightly more fantasy points than he scored last season (265.4), so Adams remains a fantasy WR1.

Michael Pittman Jr. averaged nearly 12 targets and 18 fantasy points in his three full games with Anthony Richardson under center in 2023. That’s a small sample size, but it’s notable. In his other 13 games without Richardson, Pittman Jr. averaged 9.4 targets and 15.1 fantasy points. He also scored just three touchdowns in that time. So, the concerns about Pittman seeing his stat declining with Richardson under center shouldn’t be so prominent.

Stefon Diggs averaged 10.2 targets and 20.2 fantasy points in 10 games with Ken Dorsey as the offensive coordinator in Buffalo. He scored seven touchdowns in those games. When Dorsey was fired and the Bills promoted Joe Brady, Diggs averaged 8.2 targets and 10.3 points (seven games), and was held to one touchdown. Now in Houston, Diggs’ targets-per-game average could top off at around eight, as he’ll have to share the workload with Nico Collins, Tank Dell and others. I see him as a No. 2 fantasy wideout this season.

Tight Ends

Evan Engram averaged 13.6 points last season, which was good enough to finish fourth among tight ends. It should be noted, however, he averaged 10.4 points in his first 11 games. While that’s certainly respectable, that average swelled to 19.3 points in his final six contests. During that time, he scored at least 17.5 points four times including three games with more than 23 points and one with more than 32 points. In his prior 53 games between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants, he scored at least 17.5 points just twice.  So, that six-game stretch was a massive career outlier. I’d expect some regression.

David Njoku averaged 4.1 catches, 38.3 yards and scored one touchdown in six games with Watson under center last season. In that time, he averaged 8.7 points. In his five games with Joe Flacco, Njoku averaged 7.5 catches, 78 yards and scored four touchdowns. Those totals were good enough to average 18.2 points per game, which is nearly 10 more points than he averaged with Watson at the helm. Flacco is no longer in Cleveland, so fantasy fans have to hope his totals with Watson improve. Otherwise, he could be a dud.

Trey McBride averaged three targets and 4.6 fantasy points in his first seven games of last season while playing with Zach Ertz. When Ertz went down with an injury, McBride averaged 8.5 targets and nearly 15 fantasy points the rest of the season. He’ll be one of the most popular breakout tight ends in 2024 fantasy football drafts. In fact, I have him ranked in my initial tier with Sam LaPorta, Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews.

No tight end in the league who played in at least 15 games and saw at least 75 targets last season had a lower catchable pass percentage than Kyle Pitts. The tight end who saw the second-most catchable passes based on those same parameters was T.J. Hockenson, who played most of his games with Cousins. Now the starting quarterback in Atlanta, Cousins should help Pitts finally meet his lofty statistical and fantasy expectations in 2024.


Published
Michael Fabiano

MICHAEL FABIANO

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. Formerly of CBS Sports, NFL Network and SirusXM, Michael was the first fantasy analyst to appear on one of the four major TV networks. His work can now be found on SI, Westwood One Radio and the Bleav Podcast Network.