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Does a Running QB Affect Running Back Production?

With the growing number of running quarterbacks in the league, I thought it might be time to see just how a running QB impacts the running backs on his team.

Last year five QBs ran for over 700 yards: Justin Fields (1,143), Josh Allen (776), Lamar Jackson (764), Jalen Hurts (708), and Daniel Jones (708).

For perspective, in 2019, only one QB ran for over 700 yards, and that was Lamar Jackson. This year we may add Anthony Richardson to the group which would bring the total to six.

If a QB runs for over 700 yards, that is not Fran Tarkenton dropping back and then running for his life. Most of these will be planned runs which should mean that touches are taken away from the running back. Again, I say should because that is the industry assumption.

Let’s look at the real effect of a running quarterback on those teams. I am only looking at the year the QB rushing yards increased to over that 700-yard mark.

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How A Running QB Impacts Running Backs

Justin Fields – 2021 (420), 2022 (1143)

2020 2022
Justin Fields 420 35 1,143 76
David Montgomery 849 65 801 50
Khalil Herbert 433 25 731 56
TEAM TOTALS 2,018 118 3014 177

In 2022 Fields ran for an amazing 1,143 yards.  That was 41 yards per game more than the previous season.

Fields did not cut into the running back totals. In fact, the top two running backs also had a combined increase of 350 yards or 16 yards per game.

Net Effect: This may have helped the running backs slightly.

Jalen Hurts – 2020 (354) 2021 (784)

2020 2021
Jalen Hurts 354 23.6 784 52.3
Carson Wentz 276 23.0
Miles Sanders 867 72.3 754 62.8
Boston Scott 374 23.4 373 23.3
Jordan Howard 406 58
Kenneth Gainwell 291 18.2
TEAM TOTALS 2027 126.7 2715 159.7

This is a bit tougher to analyze. In 2020 the Eagles had two quarterbacks that ran quite a bit. They combined for 630 yards. the top running backs totaled only 1,241. In 2021 Hurts by himself ran for 784 yards. The running backs ran for 1,824.

Net Effect: Even though the yardage from the QB position went up quite a bit, more of the increase came out of the RB position.

Josh Allen – 2020 (421) 2021 (763)

2020 2021
Josh Allen 421 26.3 763 44.9
Devin Singletary 687 42.9 870 51.2
Zack Moss 481 37.0 345 26.5
TEAM TOTALS 1723 107.7 2209 129.9

The Bills had an increase of 22.2 rushing yards per game in 2021. With Allen running for  342 more yards he accounted for 18.6 of those yards.  Singletary and Moss saw their combined yards go from 1168 to 1215.

Net Effect: No real difference. Allen ran for a lot more yardage but didn’t impact the running backs.

Daniel Jones – 2021 (298) 2022 (708)

2021 2022
Daniel Jones 298 27.1 708 44.3
Saquan Barkley 593 45.6 1312 82.0
Devontae Booker 593 37.1
Matt Breida 220 12.9
1688 99.3 2519 148.2

In 2021 we saw the Giants’ total rushing yards go to 2519 which was a crazy increase of 48.7 yards per game. Daniel Jones’ 708 yards accounted for 44.3 yards per game. That was an increase of 17.2 yards per game for Jones. The two top running backs were Barkley and Matt Breida. They combined for 1,532 yards, increasing the combined total of the top two backs by 346 yards.

Net Effect: The running game as a whole jumped off the charts with both Jones and the running backs as a group having better totals than the year before.


I didn’t look at Baltimore because I felt 2017 it just too far in the past.

So what happens when a team has a quarterback running for a larger total? In each of these cases, the QB ran for an additional 350 -700 yards. In all cases, the increased yardage didn’t come from the running backs. It appears that all the extra QB yardage just added to the team’s rushing totals.

So, the bottom line is if you are worried about a running back losing touches to a running QB the numbers actually tell a different story.

The takeaway from this for me is that Kenneth Walker probably has a greater chance of seeing his Fantasy points decrease from Zach Charbonnet being on the team now than Jonathan Taylor has because of Anthony Richardson being drafted by the Colts to be their running QB.

You may want to take a look at our running back rankings and see if you would rearrange any of them now that you have this information.

For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!

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