2021 NFL Props: Adjusting QB Numbers For A 17-Game Season

Posted By Brett Gibbons on May 12, 2021

Quarterback passing totals are some of the most popular prop bets year in and year out. Even with an evolving NFL landscape in terms of passing volume, season milestones have been fairly understood across fans and bettors. 2021 quarterback props will be different.

The addition of a 17th regular season game for the 2021 season is about to transform passing totals and the way we understand quarterback production.

Old milestones

Similar to rushing yards and receiving touchdowns, past milestones and records set the table on how we gauge a quarterback’s season. Previously, 4,000 and 5,000 yards were marks that were used to merit production; just eight different QBs in NFL history have thrown for 5,000 yards in a single season. Let’s take a look at those marks:

  • Dan Marino, 1984 (5,084)
  • Tom Brady, 2011 (5,235)
  • Matthew Stafford, 2011 (5,038)
  • Peyton Manning, 2013 (5,477)
  • Ben Roethlisberger, 2018 (5,129)
  • Patrick Mahomes, 2018 (5,097)
  • Jameis Winston, 2019 (5,109)
  • Drew Brees (multiple)

Another milestone that proves to keep elite company is the 40-passing touchdown season, which has been accomplished 16 times by 10 quarterbacks. In 2020, the average number of touchdown passes thrown was 27.2.

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Converting to new milestones

In our first article about converting numbers to a 17-game season, we gave a basic math equation to adjust baselines and records. Taking stats on a per game basis (available on most stat sites), simply multiply by 17 instead of 16 to get the 2021 equivalent.

Let’s take a look at 2020’s passing leaders:

  • Deshaun Watson, 4,823 yards (25th all-time)
  • Patrick Mahomes, 4,740 yards (33rd all-time)
  • Tom Brady, 4,633 yards (50th all-time)

Taking those totals and dividing by 16 games gives you their per-game averages:

  • Deshaun Watson, 301.4 yards
  • Patrick Mahomes, 296.3 yards (note: Mahomes did not play 16 games)
  • Tom Brady, 289.6 yards

Then multiplying by 17 gives you the 2021 equivalent:

  • Deshaun Watson, 5,124 (would be eighth all-time)
  • Patrick Mahomes, 5,036 (would be 13th all-time)
  • Tom Brady, 4,923 (would be 19th all-time)

In 2020, 12 quarterbacks reached the 4,000 yard mark and each season roughly ten QBs reach that mark. Previously, a QB would have to average 250 yards per game across 16 games to surpass 4,000 yards; with a 17th game added, that number drops to 236 yards– a feat that would have been achieved by 16 quarterbacks last season (among those who played 16 games).

In a 16-game season, a quarterback would need 2.5 passing touchdowns per game to reach 40 on the season (a feat accomplished just 16 times in NFL history). With a 17th game, that number drops to 2.35 passing touchdowns per game. A season ago, that would have encompassed five quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Brady, and Mahomes) rather than the three that did it.

Player-specific conversions for 2021 quarterback props

To bring all of the information together, let’s take a look at three quarterbacks of varying production from last season and convert their numbers to next season.

Aaron Rodgers

  • 2020 passing touchdowns: 48 (led NFL in 2020, fifth most all time)
  • 2021 equivalent passing touchdowns: 51 (would be second-most all-time)
  • 2020 passing attempts: 526 (13th in 2020)
  • 2021 equivalent passing attempts: 608 (would be tied for third in 2020)

Baker Mayfield

  • 2020 passing yards: 3,563 (18th in 2020)
  • 2021 equivalent passing yards: 3,786 (would be 17th in 2020)
  • 2020 passing touchdowns: 26 (15th in 2020)
  • 2021 equivalent passing touchdowns: 28 (would be 11th in 2020)

Russell Wilson

  • 2020 rushing yards: 513 (fourth among QBs in 2020)
  • 2021 equivalent rushing yards: 545 (would be fourth among QBs in 2020)
  • 2020 passing touchdowns: 40 (third in 2020, tied for 13th all-time)
  • 2021 equivalent passing touchdowns: 43 (would be second in 2020, tied for 10th all-time)

Now, let’s take a look at rookie Trevor Lawrence’s 2021 projected props (taken from 2021 quarterback props at DraftKings Sportsbook) and convert them to 2020 equivalents.

Trevor Lawrence

  • 2021 projected passing yards: 4,151 yards (would be 11th in 2020, most all-time by a rookie)
  • 2020 equivalent passing yards: 3,906 (would be 15th in 2020, fifth all-time by a rookie)

Conclusion

While the transition of expectations to 17-game season numbers begins, it’s best to consider per-game statistics rather than season totals. When considering season total prop bets, remember to convert previous totals for reference (again: Divide the total by 16, then multiply the result by 17).

Record books are about to be re-written year after year as the new game is added and the NFL offense continues to evolve to new efficiency heights. While it’ll take some time to get re-calibrated, you can stay ahead of the curve by keeping up with TheLines’ coverage of NFL player props and betting.

Check back each week here at TheLines for a new position group breakdown.

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