Stats: Do QB Sacks And Kneel Downs Count As Negative Rushing Yards?

If you are watching football (perhaps grinding out a fantasy matchup) you might be wondering about sacks and kneel downs and how they affect rushing yards. In fantasy, even the slightest yard can be the difference between a win and a loss, so how sacks and kneel downs are recorded can be very important. Two common questions for fantasy owners are:

  • Do sacks count as rushing yards? 
  • Does a QB kneel count as a rush?

Do Sacks Count as Rushing Yards?

In the NFL, sacks do not count as negative rushing yards against the quarterback. They also do not count as negative passing yards against the quarterback. In the NFL, sacks are recorded as negative TEAM passing yards (source).

College football does count sacks as negative rushing yards against the quarterback (source). 

Does a QB Kneel Count as a Rush?

Yes, in both the NFL and college, kneel downs count as negative rushing yards for quarterbacks.

In the article below, we will discuss these rules in greater depth. Also, if you are an NFL fan and in the market for a jersey, knowing what size to buy can be frustrating over the internet. We review all types of NFL jerseys. To see our real reviews, visit our Jersey Resource Center.


Sack Statistics College vs NFL

If you are watching football and wondering ‘do quarterback sacks count as negative rushing yards‘, the answer (as noted above) is it depends on if you are watching college football or the NFL. All levels of football used to record sack yardage as negative rushing yards against the quarterback.  The NFL is the only organization to finally change this rule and begin recording sack yardage against the team passing yards. 

The NFL changed the way they record sack yardage to try and accurately reflect the yardage gained and lost on rushing and passing plays. Sacks occur only on passing plays, and the NFL decided it was statistically inaccurate to assign a sack on a passing play as negative rushing yards.

But they limited it to just team stat totals because since there was no pass actually attempted, it doesn’t make sense for it to count against any quarterback’s individual passing yardage.  Also, when a quarterback gets sacked, it is usually not his fault on the play and so it would often be inaccurate to count it against him. 

All other levels of football, including college, have decided to just keep it as a negative rushing play, and since it is the quarterback who technically rushes on the play they get the negative rushing yards assigned to them individually (and also subsequently assigned to the team rushing total).

Quarterback Passing Yards Can Be More Than Team Passing Totals?

As discussed, the NFL counts sack yards against the team passing yards but not against the passing yards for the quarterback.  So not only does the quarterback not get negative rushing yards, it doesn’t count against the quarterback’s passing statistics either. 

The NFL attempts to assign the total yards to what actually happens on the field, so they do it by giving the team negative passing yards for the play.  So if you look at the quarterback’s passing yards and the teams passing yards, they won’t add up to the team total yards if the quarterback has been sacked. 

As we mentioned in the section above, the NFL counts it as negative team passing yards because the play is associated with a passing play.  This is not the case in college.  In college, the team passing yards should match the quarterback passing yards.  They count a sack against the quarterback’s individual rushing yards, so the teams passing yards don’t get affected like they do in the NFL.

Do Kneel Downs Count Against a QB in Fantasy?

Do kneel downs count as negative rushing yards? The answer is yes, kneel downs count as negative yardage against a quarterback in both college and the NFL.  So in fantasy leagues where rushing yardage totals count as points, then yes kneel downs will count against a QB in fantasy.

In most fantasy leagues, 1 rushing yard is equal to one tenth of a point.  There are many leagues where the league rules don’t count partial points and all points are rounded to the nearest whole number. 

These leagues almost always round down, so if you have 29 rushing yards that is only worth 2 points rather than 2.9 or even 3 (if you would round up).  So there are many situations where kneel downs won’t end up mattering when it comes to fantasy scoring. 

There are also leagues where yardage totals don’t matter at all, and all offensive player scoring is for touchdowns only.  In those leagues, rushing yards don’t matter at all and so kneel downs won’t matter either.

Are All Negative Runs by Quarterbacks Considered Sacks?

If a quarterback gets tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage, it isn’t always a sack.  For a quarterback to be sacked, the play has to be a designed pass play. 

If the quarterback is considered a runner from the start of the play, even if he gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage it isn’t considered a sack.  Though there are certainly times where the quarterback drops back to pass and then takes off running if he can’t find someone to throw the ball to. 

If this happens, and he is then tackled behind or at the line of scrimmage, it is still a sack.  Also, if a quarterback runs out of bounds at or behind the line of scrimmage and it is a pass play, it is also considered a sack. 

One other situation that is considered a sack that might be confusing is when there is a bad snap and the quarterback has to jump on the ball.  In these situations, the official stat keepers will have to determine if the play was going to be a pass play or rushing play.  If the play was going to be a passing play, then it will be a sack; if not it will be considered a negative rushing play by whoever recovers the fumble.

On scramble plays like this where the quarterback doesn’t give away exactly what type of play it was going to be, the official stat keeper will use other visual keys (like was the offensive line setting up to pass block or were the receivers running downfield) to determine whether or not to assign it as a pass play (sack) or a rushing play (non-sack).

Joshua Lloyd

Joshua is lead content creator for basketball and golf at Sports Fan Focus. Golf is a passion of his and he enjoys both playing and watching golf in his spare time. To read more about Joshua, visit the SFF About Us page.

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