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Going Deep

Projecting NFL Pass/Run Splits in 2020

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: July 3, 2020, 4:22 am ET

The first layer of building fantasy football projections is figuring out how many plays each team will run and which percentage of their plays will be passes and runs. In this mini serious, I’ll share my personal team projections and lay out my process afterward. Let’s dive in.

 

2020 Projected Pass/Run Splits

Below are my projected pass percentages for each team, and how much it would change from last year. 

Team

2020 Projection

Change from 2019

Why Change?

Falcons

64%

-1%

 

Panthers

63%

+1%

 

Dolphins

63%

-1%

 

Rams

62%

1%

 

Jaguars

61%

+1%

 

Bengals

61%

-1%

 

Chiefs

61%

0%

 

Steelers

60%

+4%

Big Ben returns.

Giants

60%

-3%

NYG should trail less.

Bears

59%

0%

 

Buccaneers

58%

-3%

TB likely to lead more, trail less.

Saints

58%

-1%

 

Eagles

58%

1%

 

Jets

58%

0%

 

Packers

58%

0%

 

Lions

57%

-1%

 

Cardinals

57%

-1%

 

Patriots

57%

-1%

 

Texans

57%

+2%

HOU likely to trail more. 

Broncos

56%

+1%

 

Washington

56%

-1%

 

Chargers

56%

-6%

Tyrod/Herbert likely forces more runs.

Cowboys

55%

-2%

DAL likely to trail less.

Colts

55%

+3%

Rivers allows IND to pass more.

Raiders

54%

0%

 

Vikings

54%

+5%

MIN likely to lead less, trail more.

Browns

53%

-5%

CLE likely better, MIN was run heavy.

Bills

53%

+1%

 

Seahawks

53%

+1%

 

49ers

52%

+3%

SF likely to lead less.

Titans

51%

+1%

 

Ravens

44%

+2%

BAL likely to lead less.

 

The Process Behind The Projections

Trust the process.

 

 

This chart includes all offensive plays regardless of the scoreboard. This is a nice starting point for 2020 team pass/run projections, but we know team talent changes year after year so we need to make adjustments. The next step is to look at how often each offense passes based on the scoreboard:

 

 

In neutral situations most teams are quite balanced. Only the Ravens (44% passes) and Colts (49% passes) ran the ball more than they passed in neutral situations, and only the Chiefs (67% passes) passed the ball more than two-thirds of the time. I expect the league to pass slightly more in neutral situations each and every season for the next decade, just like how three-pointers in the NBA have increased in the 2010s. But neutral situation splits don’t paint the entire picture because it only accounts for situations where the in-game winning percentage is between 25% and 75%. What happens when a team has a commanding lead or is trailing big?

 

 

When teams have a lead, they typically run the ball more than they pass. Everyone knows this, but there are major differences in exactly how much each team runs the ball. The Titans (31% passes) and Vikings (34% passes), for example, really #EstablishIt when they have a lead. The Dolphins (58% passes but a small sample), Patriots (55% passes), Lions (55% passes), and Falcons (55% passes) still pass at respectable rates, meaning players like Kenny Golladay and Julio Jones are less prone to busting in fantasy football because of game script.

 

 

On the other hand, teams obviously pass more when they are trying to spark a comeback. All teams cleared the 60% pass rate when their in-game winning percentage was below 25%. The Rams (84% passes) lead the NFL by a wide margin in pass rate in negative game script situations with the Saints (80% passes), Falcons (77% passes), Buccaneers (76% passes), and Steelers (75% passes) rounding out the top five.

 

 

What this chart shows is how much each offense changed based on game script last season. The Vikings changed their pass/run splits more than any team last season when they were in non-neutral situations, meaning when the in-game winning percentage was either below 25% (trailing) or above 75% (winning). The Vikings only passed the ball 34% of the time while winning, but passed the ball 72% of the time while trailing. That 38% difference is what is represented on the chart. That means the Chiefs (10% game script difference), Eagles (11%), and Patriots (11%) didn’t change their offense much when games were one sided.

 

 

2019 Raw Pass/Run Splits

The table lists each offenses’ pass percentage depending on the game script. “Total” reflects all offensive plays. “Neutral” is when the in-game winning percentage is between 25% and 75%. “Winning” is when the in-game winning percentage is above 75%. “Trailing” is below 25%. “Difference” is trailing minus winning and represents how much pass/run splits change based on the scoreboard, where a higher number means the offense changes a lot. 

Team

Total

Neutral

Winning

Trailing

Difference

Falcons

65%

59%

55%

77%

22%

Dolphins

64%

62%

58%

74%

17%

Giants

63%

60%

44%

73%

29%

Panthers

62%

61%

50%

68%

18%

Chargers

62%

60%

39%

71%

32%

Bengals

62%

59%

44%

66%

21%

Rams

61%

61%

46%

84%

38%

Buccaneers

61%

59%

50%

76%

26%

Chiefs

61%

67%

53%

63%

11%

Jaguars

60%

54%

43%

69%

26%

Bears

59%

61%

46%

69%

23%

Saints

59%

61%

50%

80%

30%

Lions

58%

54%

55%

72%

17%

Cardinals

58%

61%

48%

69%

21%

Packers

58%

62%

51%

71%

20%

Patriots

58%

60%

55%

66%

11%

Browns

58%

59%

51%

63%

11%

Jets

58%

57%

53%

65%

12%

Eagles

57%

58%

50%

61%

11%

Washington

57%

51%

48%

67%

19%

Cowboys

57%

56%

42%

74%

32%

Steelers

56%

54%

41%

75%

34%

Broncos

55%

56%

46%

68%

22%

Texans

55%

56%

48%

63%

15%

Raiders

54%

54%

47%

63%

16%

Bills

52%

56%

41%

67%

26%

Colts

52%

49%

46%

63%

17%

Seahawks

52%

52%

42%

65%

23%

Titans

50%

54%

31%

61%

30%

Vikings

49%

54%

34%

72%

38%

49ers

49%

54%

41%

68%

26%

Ravens

42%

44%

40%

63%

23%

 

My Fantasy Football Content

1. 2019 Yards Per Carry Plus/Minus Rankings

2. 2019 Rushing Efficiency Rankings

3. 2019 Receiving Efficiency Rankings

4. 2019 Expected Passing TD Rankings

5. 2019 Expected Rushing TD Rankings

6. 2019 Expected Receiving TD Rankings

7. 2019 Big-Play Rushing Rankings

8. 2019 Expected Yards After The Catch Rankings

9. 2019 Deep Target Efficiency Rankings

10. 2019 Expected YPA Rankings

11. 2019 Expected Fantasy Points (WR)

12. 2019 Expected Fantasy Points (TE)

13. Reviewing Late-Season Production - QBs & TEs

14. Reviewing Late-Season Production - RBs & WRs

15. NFL Depth Charts - QB, RB, WR, TE

16. Free Agency Winners and Losers

17. Rookie RB Pass-Blocking Report

18. How Predictive Is Late-Season Production?

19. Insights After Analyzing Historical ADPs

20. Projecting NFL Pass/Run Splits in 2020

 

My Real Football Content

1. Stop Running It Up The Middle

2. Run From Shotgun, Not Under Center

3. Throw Beyond The First Down Marker

4. How Often Do Running Backs Block?

5. Should the NFL Run More in the End Zone?