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Which Fantasy Offenses Are Set To Expand in 2021?

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What can 2020 tell us about the potential for offenses in 2021? Which 2021 offseason changes should we care about when projecting the potential for increased fantasy output? 


Sigmund Bloom of Football Guys has long been one of my favorite fantasy football analysts. I enjoy the way he sees and talks about the game of football. One of the phrases he often uses compares the “size of the pie” to the potential output for fantasy offenses.

I’ve always loved this way of looking at things. It leads to many questions and allows us to search for patterns that help us predict future fantasy success. I attached numbers to this idea. Just how big of a pie is the average NFL offense? How much greater advantage is had by big pie teams? What disadvantages do you have to overcome investing in a player on a small pie team? Let’s explore.

Five Years of Data

I compiled the last five seasons worth of fantasy points (PPR scoring) and separated them out by the 32 NFL teams and broke it down further by position on each team. I’ll be using this five-year dataset in many upcoming articles, but for the present, I’ll mostly be using information gathered for the 2020 season.

The 30,000-foot view of fantasy scoring shows that on average, there is an average of 44,542.1 points scored by all players within a single season. 2020 was a higher scoring season, boasting a 2,329.2 surplus on top of that average. Over the past five seasons, the average output by the average fantasy football franchise was 1,391.9 fantasy points. 

I divided the 160-team fantasy offenses into large pie teams, medium pie teams, and small pie. Large pie teams landed in the 80th percentile and above. Medium pie teams range from 79th percentile to 40th percentile. Small pie teams cover the 39th percentile and below.

In the charts below, the darker the hue of the red and green colors indicate where they sit in their positional ranking.

For example, look at the Bills. At the QB/WR position, they had the darkest green, indicating they scored the most amount of fantasy points as a team from the QB/WR position. At the running back position and tight end, the Bills have a red hue showing they were bottom of the barrel at RB and below average at TE. Here’s how the 2020 fantasy offenses were baked:

All numbers courtesy of FantasyData.com

Large Pie Teams

Medium Pie Teams

Small Pie Teams

My Takeaways

Improved quarterback play is the quickest way to increase a team’s fantasy pie.

Immediately, the quarterback position stands out. The quarterback is the straw that stirs the drink. Out of the ten large pie teams, nine of them had a top-12 quarterback in fantasy points. If you build your team around the players on the teams you believe will have a top-12 quarterback, you are increasing your potential for a bigger slice of the pie.

Looking at the skill positions of running back, wide receiver and tight end – the team can be built in a variety of ways. There are bottom half scoring teams in the large pie at each of the other positions. Running backs had 8 of the top 24 on large pie teams. Wide receivers had 14 of the top 36 on large pie teams. Tight ends had 4 of the top 12 on large pie teams.  You can have a talented backfield or pass catchers, but without someone to distribute at a high level, you are buying into a capped situation.

 

Fantasy Offenses Poised to Jump Pie Tiers
2020 Medium Pie to 2021 Large Pie Teams
Arizona Cardinals

Frankly, I was surprised they weren’t a large pie offense in 2020. Going into Kyler Murray’s third year, he’s poised to have his best fantasy season. He has a top WR in DeAndre Hopkins, a veteran presence in A.J. Green, and a young Swiss army knife rookie in Rondale Moore. James Conner and Chase Edmonds are, at least, as good as they had in 2020. 

Dallas Cowboys

All about Dak Prescott, baby. After his catastrophic ankle injury, he’s ready to come back and prove he’s one of the best QBs in the NFL. Combined with the fact that they have a top-five backfield, the best WR corps, and a high-level offensive line. The Cowboys’ blueprint to win games this year is going to crush teams under large piles of points. This pie is going to challenge records.

Los Angeles Rams

The 2020 Rams were just under the season average for total fantasy points scored per franchise. Welcome Matthew Stafford to the party and 2021 could prove to be an explosive year. I mean, hearing Sean McVay swoon over his new signal-caller makes me think there are parts of his playbook that Jared Goff couldn’t dream of. The blow of losing Cam Akers is more devastating to fantasy managers than to the Rams NFL hopes. 

 

2020 Small Pie to 2021 Medium Pie Teams
Miami Dolphins

What an offseason it’s been for Tua Tagovailoa – not even really him as a player, but the narrative surrounding him. Most of the conversation I saw over the offseason questioned whether Miami should “Josh Rosen” him and take one of these 2021 rookie QBs to start fresh. Then came the infamous five interceptions (in a downpour) camp report that revved up the victory laps. As Tua’s training camp has gone on, however, he has started to flip the script. As I research, I’m confident Tua is going to improve and make Miami a more plentiful fantasy offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars

One of the next articles that I’m going to research is the impact of rookie QBs starting for a franchise vs a second or third-year QB, and where the biggest jump in fantasy potential comes. I hypothesize that more often the bump comes when a QB is in their second or third year in a system. I believe Trevor Lawrence has the skill set to hit the ground running, being an outlier in my hypothesis. There is a blend of players surrounding him. Veterans like Marvin Jones and DJ Chark. Youngsters like Laviska Shenault, James Robinson, and Travis Etienne all have me excited to see what the long-anticipated QB prodigy can accomplish. My biggest concern? Urban Meyer.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow had a less-than-picturesque start to his NFL career. Opposing defenses terrorized him more often than not. Due to his injury, many discuss the lack of big splashes on the offensive line. Through the draft and free agency, they have done enough that Burrow should be less terrorized (Check out this article talking about AFC/NFC North offensive lines by @FF_SkinnyChief). The Bengals WR room has the chance to be something special. Mixon should be healthy. Year two in the system should help Burrow make the jump.


Thank you for checking out my work! I’m always interested in conversing about these ideas. Which fantasy offenses do you expect to grow in 2021? Come talk to me about which you expect to finish higher than they did in 2020 or if you see any other cool trends in the data. I’m open to questions that may lead to future articles using this five-year dataset. The easiest way to do all of this is to shoot me a message or tweet @FantasyOutlaw. 

Fantasy Outlaw

IDP Dynasty player since 2011. Devy/C2C since 2018. Family is everything. Californian. Love making pizza. Colts & Clemson. Insanely high on Trevor Lawrence.
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