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Will the New PAT Rule Affect Your Fantasy Football League?

By Jared Smola 10:15am EDT 5/20/15

The short answer: hardly. So if you wanna move on with your day, I won’t hold it against you. But if you’ve got some time to kill, let’s take a closer look at exactly what the new PAT rule means in fantasy football.

The new rule will move the line of scrimmage from the 2-yard line back to the 15 for 1-point kick attempts. The ball will be placed on the 2 if teams are going for a 2-point conversion. The play will also be “live,” meaning that the defense can return a blocked kick, botched snap or takeaway for 2 points.


Longer (and fewer?) PATs

PAT kicks won’t be quite the sure things that they’ve been recently. NFL kickers have connected on 98+% of PATs in each of the last 14 seasons. That mark has risen above 99% since 2010.

The PAT will now come from the 32 or 33-yard line, depending on where the kicker lines up. The conversion rate on FGs of that distance over the past 3 seasons is 94.4%. Kickers nailed 96.7% of 32 and 33-yarders this past season. And last preseason, when the NFL tested the new PAT length, 94.3% of kicks were made.

So we’re talking about a conversion rate of about 95%. Kickers on the league’s best offenses tend to attempt around 55 PATs per season. With the old rule, we’d expect them to miss maybe 1. The new distance means they’ll miss 2-3. Less busy kickers will miss even fewer than that.

Of course, everyone figures to attempt fewer kicks with the new rule. If we use that 95% conversion rate, the expected value of a kick is .95 points. Two-point plays were converted 47.5% of the time last year. That gives the play a matching expected value of .95 points.

NFL coaches tend to be creatures of habit, so most will still probably lean toward kicking for 1 point. But the new rule should mean at least a slight increase in 2-point tries from last year’s 4.9%. That, in turn, will mean fewer PATs for kickers.

So a slight dip in PAT attempts and a slight increase in PAT misses. The new rule will suppress fantasy scoring by kickers. And if your league deducts points for missed PATs, the gap between the best and worst kickers figures to shrink because the busier guys will have more misses. Just another reason to wait until your very last pick to draft a kicker.


More 2-point tries

The expected increase in 2-point tries is the bigger story here. Last year, the Bears and Cardinals led the league with five 2-point attempts. Eight teams – the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Chargers, Raiders, Bucs, 49ers and Texans – didn’t attempt a single 2-pointer.

It’s impossible to know exactly how each team will approach PATs in 2015, but it’s a safe bet that the gap between the most and least 2-point tries will increase.

The Cardinals, for example, went for 2 after 15.6% of their TDs last year. Perhaps that rate climbs to 25% in 2015. That could mean another 3-5 attempts – and 3-5 more chances for Cardinals players to score 2 points for your fantasy squad.

Of course, even 10 fantasy points over the course of the season is essentially negligible. And remember, we’re just guessing for now at exactly how many more 2-pointers will be attempted by each team.

It’d be foolish to alter preseason fantasy football rankings because of the new PAT rule. Once we get into the season and see how each team responds to the change, though, we might be able to use the information to make better starting lineup and daily fantasy decisions.

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