Fumbles and Muffs

Fumbles happen all the time in the NFL, but they tend to be a source of confusion and arguments in fantasy football, because there are so many different types of fumbles and circumstances in which they can occur. Hopefully we can help clear up some confusion, especially in light of the muffed punt by DeSean Jackson in the Sunday night game. Many leagues are asking “was that a fumble” or “how should it be scored in my league?”  The short answer is: Yes, a muffed punt is also considered a fumble, so it will be scored as a fumble based on which fumble rules you have set up for your league.  Read on for more details…

Let’s start with the simple and most obvious occurrence of a fumble: an offensive player like a RB fumbles the ball, and the other team recovers it. Pretty simple and easy to explain and score this. But keep in mind that all sorts of potential fantasy football scoring events happen even on a simple play like this:

  • The RB had a “Fumble”
  • The RB had a “Fumble Lost”
  • The defender (potentially) had a “Forced Fumble” (some fumbles are not forced)
  • The Team Defense had a “Fumble Recovery”

There’s more, but those are the basics for the purposes of our discussion. So let’s say your league only has the rule defined as -2 points for each “Fumbles Lost (to Opponent)” and no other fumble related rules. This RB player would receive -2 points. But what if he fumbled and then recovered it himself? Or if he fumbled and someone else on his team recovered it? Or he fumbled and it went out of bounds? Or he fumbled and then the other other team recovered it, but then a penalty was called that nullified the whole play. All of those are instances where you could have seen a player fumble on TV while watching the game, but you wouldn’t see the points for “Fumbles Lost” appear in your fantasy football league, because he didn’t lose the fumble! Every week we have complaints or comments or issues raised by customers that swear up and down that they witnessed a player fumble, so why isn’t he being charged for that fumble!? The answer is “It depends on a lot of factors!”

The rule called “Fumbles” takes into account all fumbles by a player, no matter what. That means if they dropped the ball on a rushing play, or kickoff return, or muffed a punt, or bobbled a snap from center, it is considered a fumble. And it doesn’t matter if they recovered it or not. A fumble is the act of losing the ball.

Related to that is the rule called “Fumbles Lost (to Opponent)” which takes into account all fumbles lost by a player, no matter what. That means if they lost a fumble on special teams or on offense or on defense, then they are charged with a Fumble Lost. But only if the NFL opponent ends up with it. Otherwise it is not considered “lost”.

If you prefer to try to categorize the fumble and only penalize players for certain types of fumbles, then we have other scoring rules available as well:

  • Fumbles on Offense
  • Fumbles Lost on Offense

These are pretty self explanatory. They are your “standard” fumble plays that happen on offense.

  • Fumbles on Special Teams
  • Fumbles Lost on Special Teams

These are a little trickier, because the definition of a “Special Teams” is a whole separate topic for fantasy football purposes. But in general, Fumbles on Special Teams refers to any situation after the ball is punted or kicked off. And a “muff” is considered to be a fumble for fantasy football scoring purposes. So for our specific example of DeSean Jackson in the Sunday night game, he tried to catch a punt, but it bounced off his chest and the punting team recovered it. In the play-by-play the NFL refers to it as a “muffed punt”, but for fantasy football statistical purposes, it is considered to be a special teams fumble and special teams fumble lost. If your league had the generic “Fumbles” or “Fumbles Lost (to Opponent)” set up, then he would be penalized for this. If you didn’t want that to happen, then you would have to change your rules to use the “Fumbles on Offense” type rules instead.

  • Fumbles on Defense
  • Fumbles Lost on Defense

These are also tricky, because it can be fuzzy differentiating between a special teams play versus a defensive play. But in general terms, Fumbles on Defense happen only after a turnover happens first. For example, if a QB throws an interception, and then the defender fumbles it while running it back, that would be a fumble on defense. Clear as mud!?

One final note about these various fumble categories. Our live stats feed doesn’t categorize the fumbles and fumbles lost into offensive versus special teams versus defense until after the game is final. So during the live stats feed, all fumbles and fumbles lost are lumped into the general “fumbles” and “fumbles lost” categories. Then after the game is final and official stats are issued, the fumbles are broken out into “type” or when they happened (offense or special teams or defense).


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3 Responses to “Fumbles and Muffs”

  1. Little Pumpkins Says:

    What about Chad Johnson’s fumble recovery….3-5- (2:48) (Shotgun) 11-R.Fitzpatrick pass deep right intended for 85-C.Johnson INTERCEPTED by 24-E.Wright at CLE 28. 24-E.Wright to CIN 49 for 23 yards (23-C.Perry). FUMBLES (23-C.Perry), RECOVERED by CIN-85-C.Johnson at CLE 45. 85-C.Johnson to CLE 45 for no gain (24-E.Wright). possession changed…this is uncommon…why shouldnt Chad get 3 points fro recovery of other teams fumble?

  2. myfantasyleague Says:

    He should get points, but only if you have “Fumble Recoveries” defined as a rule for wide receivers in your league. The only rules discussed in this post were Fumbles and Fumbles Lost, but Fumble Recoveries are a totally different event altogether.

  3. Kris Says:

    On Sunday Tony Romo was hit fumbled the ball and knocked it out of bounds resulting in a safety. Is this not a fumble lost? He did not retain possession and points were awarded to the opposing team.

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