Meet the Metric – Adjusted Yards Per Attempt

by Corbin Young · Analytics & Advanced Metrics

Welcome back to another Meet the Metric article, but this time we’re focusing on Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (AY/A). Oddly enough, we find several of the better fantasy quarterbacks ranking highly in this metric. However, we find struggling and inconsistent quarterbacks that rank lowly. We’ll define Adjusted Yards Per Attempt and touch on leaders and bottom dwellers in this metric. Then, we’ll analyze what it means moving forward and how it’s relevant in our fantasy analysis.


Yards Per Attempt falls into the efficiency category, and we find Adjusted Yards Per Attempt nearby on the RotoUnderworld player pages. Simply put, Yards Per Attempt takes the average of yards per pass attempt by the quarterback. AY/A “incorporates a premium for touchdowns and a discount for interceptions.” 

When we look at the quarterback leaderboards, several top fantasy options rank near the top. On the flip side, struggling quarterbacks in 2020 land near the bottom, such as Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz, and Alex Smith

As noted in previous Meet the Metric pieces, we’ll look at the whole picture because efficiency metrics like AY/A need context. Typically, we’ll peek at quarterback opportunity and other efficiency metrics to see how this one fits. 

Shout out to Director of AnalyticJosh Larky for his support. Josh noted that high yardage totals and touchdowns come into play with AY/A as well. Quarterbacks that limit interceptions and turnovers matter as well, which makes sense. Furthermore, we find quarterbacks that avoid taking too many sacks, as those quarterbacks don’t rank as highly in AY/A.

AY/A Leaders

Several top fantasy quarterbacks sit atop the Adjusted Yards Per Attempt leaderboard. The notable players include Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Ryan Tannehill, and Josh Allen. Even Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, and Derek Carr stand out for different reasons.

adjusted yards per attempt

Top-7 in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (2020)

Let’s highlight a few notable quarterbacks that stand out in Watson, Tannehill, and Cousins. Sure, Watson’s legal situation is another conversation, but he continues to produce efficiently. He averaged 8.7 (No. 2 among qualified quarterbacks) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt, only trailing Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, he had a +11.4 (No. 10) Production Premium and led the league with 4,801 passing yards. Of course, he also scored fantasy points with his legs, evidenced by his 444 (No. 5) rushing yards that averaged out to 27.8 (No. 9) rushing yards per game. 

Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins

I already dug into Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins when discussing efficiency outliers at quarterback, but let’s briefly highlight them again in this Meet the Metric article. Although Tannehill regressed a tiny bit in 2020, he averaged 8.3 (No. 4) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt, down from 9.2 (No. 1) AY/A in 2019. He was still efficient, and the Titans added Julio Jones this offseason. Yikes.

Similarly, Cousins also regressed a bit in this metric with a 7.9 (No. 7) AY/A, down from 8.2 (No. 6) AY/A in 2019. It’s not a significant difference since he still provided efficient production. From Weeks 10-17, he increased his pass attempts to 38.5 per game, up from 26.1 per game in Weeks 1-9. Unsurprisingly, with the passing opportunities increasing, he averaged 301.3 passing yards in Weeks 10-17, up from 231.9 in Weeks 1-9. In 2021, he will likely need to rely on efficiency unless the passing volume changes since it increased towards the end of 2020.

AY/A Sleeper – Derek Carr

Another intriguing quarterback that sits outside of the top-7 is Derek Carr, who finished with 7.8 (No. 8) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt. He ranked No. 11 with 4,102 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns last season. Interestingly, the Raiders averaged 36.2 (No. 22) Team Pass Plays Per Game with a -2.71 (No. 22) Game Script and 2.15 (No. 25) Pace of Play. They didn’t record a high passing volume, yet trailed in games with a slower Pace of Play. That said, Carr provided efficient production in some metrics. He also limited the interceptions, throwing only nine in 2020, with 10 games where he didn’t throw a pick. He projects as an intriguing QB2 in redraft leagues. 


AY/A Bottom-7

With quarterbacks in the bottom-7 of Adjusted Yards Per Attempt, we find a few that struggled. The table below shows several bottom-dwellers in AY/A, including Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, and Carson Wentz

adjusted yards per attempt

Bottom-7 in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (2020)

Jones, Darnold, and Wentz have starting spots locked down in 2021, assuming nothing wild happens between now and the regular season. Meanwhile, Lock expects to battle with Teddy Bridgewater for the Broncos starting quarterback gig. Similar to the leaders in AY/A, we’ll highlight a few bottom-dwellers.

Drew Lock

In 2021, Drew Lock averaged 5.6 (No. 30) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt and looked inconsistent. In four games where he finished inside the top-12, he averaged 24.7 Fantasy Points Per Game, primarily boosted by 11 of his 16 (No. 20) passing touchdowns on the season. During games where he finished outside of the top-12, he averaged 10.6 fantasy points. He barely played in Week 2, so when we take that out, it leads to 12.1 Fantasy Points Per Game.

One of Lock’s problems includes turnovers, with 13 of his 15 total interceptions coming in the lower-scoring weeks. Context matters, meaning a healthy Courtland Sutton should help his cause in 2021. However, why wouldn’t the Broncos turn towards the safer and more accurate passer in Teddy Bridgewater? Regardless, both quarterbacks should benefit from Sutton’s presence in addition to Jerry Jeudy, a favorite breakout candidate in 2021. 

Daniel Jones

Like Drew Lock, we should consider the context with Daniel Jones since the Giants lost Saquon Barkley two games into the season. Anytime a team loses their best offensive player, it will impact the offense as a whole. In 2020, Jones finished right behind Lock with 5.5 (No. 31) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt. He lacked the passing production with only 2,935 (No. 20) passing yards and 11 (No. 29) passing touchdowns. However, he provided rushing production, evidenced by his 423 (No. 6) rushing yards that averaged 30.2 (No. 7) rushing yards per game.

Jones needs to work on reducing the negative plays and turnovers. Last season, he took 45 sacks (No. 4) while throwing 24 (No. 8) Interceptable Passes. In theory, Kenny Golladay‘s arrival should help the offensive efficiency for Jones and the passing offense in general. In 2019, when Golladay played 16 games, he averaged 10.3 (No. 6) Yards Per Target and a 15.7 (No. 6) Average Target Distance. We expect Jones and the Giants offense to improve with Barkley back and Golladay in town, which should slightly improve his AY/A. 

AY/A Wildcard – Sam Darnold

Is the Adam Gase curse broken on Sam Darnold now that he lands on the Panthers with a new team and offense? It sure looks like it, but Darnold’s metrics don’t look great. Last season, he averaged 4.7 (No. 35) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt. That ranks him near Carson Wentz and Alex Smith, but Wentz and Smith’s teams averaged over 40.0 Team Pass Plays Per Game. Meanwhile, Darnold’s Jets averaged 33.9 (No. 28) Team Pass Plays Per Game. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily in New York last year. However, we’ll note that he suffered an AC joint sprain that caused him to miss four games. The shoulder injury possibly lingered and bothered him. In 2020, he finished with 2,208 (No. 28) passing yards with nine (No. 32) passing touchdowns and 29 (No. 4) Interceptable Passes. 

Darnold totaled better passing production in 2019, with 3,024 (No. 25) passing yards, 19 (No. 24) passing touchdowns, and 5.9 (No. 28) AY/A. He is now with the Panthers, and we project an uptick in production and efficiency given the improved team context. Per the World Famous Draft Kit, Darnold ranks No. 26 amongst quarterbacks, with the projections expecting improved production. It’s within the range of outcomes for him to produce as a QB2, like Teddy Bridgewater, who averaged 16.7 (No. 21) Fantasy Points Per Game