Every so often, when working on a study, some other topic piques my interest. While working on QB Career Years, I got to wondering how long the careers of running QBs are vs. traditional dropback quarterbacks. So this is a quick look at that question.

The first thing is to define terms and scope the study population. This includes all QBs who started their career after the NFL-AFL merger (1970 or later) and ended it before 2016. To confine the study to players who had some fantasy value, I eliminated all quarterbacks who never finished in the Top 25 fantasy points per game in a non-strike year (25 pass yards = 1 FP, Pass TD = 4 FP, 10 rush yards = 1 FP, Rush TD =6, no turnover penalty). That left me with 180 QBs who scored 11.2% of their fantasy points on the ground.

I then divided those QBs into four categories:

1. Immobile: less than 5.6% (i.e., half the average) of their FP came from running.

2. Pocket: between 5.6% and 11.2% of their FP were scored on the ground.

3. Mobile: between 11.2% and 16.8% of their fantasy value was from rushing (added 5.6% to the average).

4. Running: more than 16.8% of their scoring for fantasy was carrying the ball.

John Friesz was the most immobile QB in this study, with just 0.6% of his FP on the ground and Tim Tebow was the “running-est”, scoring over half (50.9%) of his points as a ball-carrier. In case you think Friesz was not as relevant for fantasy, I'll note that Tebow's highest rank in FP/G was 19th and Friesz' was 17th – and this is a scoring system that lowers the value of passing contributions compared to running (a 20 pass yards = 1 FP and pass TD = 6 FP would boost the value of immobile QBs).

Peyton Manning (3.4%) is the prototypical immobile QB. Warren Moon (8.9%) or Troy Aikman (7.3%) would be examples of pocket quarterbacks under this definition. John Elway (14.7%) would slot in as a mobile QB, and Michael Vick (36.6%) is a running QB.


# of QBs

Average Age, Final Season

Years in NFL





















The table shows how many QBs fell into each category, how old they were on average in their final year, and how many years they played (on average). The players were divided into about equal groups by my arbitrary categorizations, with the "Mobile" group being a bit smaller than the other three categories.

The two categories of QBs who scored more points running the ball ended their careers about two years earlier than their more traditional dropback brothers, with around a one-and half fewer

seasons. There was almost no difference in age or career length between the two "more running" categories, nor between the two more stationary groups.

So the real divide is between QBs who score more than average and less than average FP. QBs who get 11.2% of their career FP from running will be done about age 32 after 9 seasons. Those who get fewer than the average of their FP on the ground will last until age 34, with almost 11 years in the league. Just a little data point to file away for your dynasty team-building.

While it wasn't something I set out to learn, it's that a QB who manages just one Top 25 fantasy year will have about a 10-year NFL career. That is longer than I would have thought.