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Biabreakable

Riding the wave: A look at career path performance for RB

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Some discussion recently caused me to wonder about the impact of rookie running backs in fantasy football. There have been rookie RB who become quality starters for FF right away, but I wondered exactly how common this is? I also wondered how important a players rookie performance might be for the quality of their career.

So I decided to be less lazy than Couch Potato (which is pretty easy) and gather the data to see what I might be able to find out. I gathered data from PFR for all RB drafted from 1989 to 2014. So 25 years is the sample size.

There have been 300 top 12 RB seasons over this time frame and after looking at the data I found that RB with 40 or more VBD almost always had a top 12 season. There were a few instances of a RB having a top 12 season with high 30s VBD so I included those in the sample as well. A few times 40VBD was not top 12, but it was usually pretty close. I then added Priest Holmes and Arian Foster who were undrafted free agents who have had multiple 40 VBD seasons.

I then took the top 150 players on this list by points per game so as to capture the best players in terms of winning games in FF, even if only over a short time frame. Some of these players never had better than 40 VBD in any season, but 101 of these 150 RB did have at least one 40 VBD season.

The average number of times these players has had a 40+ VBD year is 2 seasons.

101 RB had at least one 40+ VBD season. 67.3%

Only 36 RB had 3 or more 40 VBD seasons. 24%

3 RB had 9 40+ VBD seasons. 2%

3 RB had 8 40+ VBD seasons. 2%

1 RB had 7 40+ VBD seasons. 0.6%

7 RB had 6 40+ VBD seasons. 4.6%

11 RB had 5 40+ VBD seasons. 7.3%

11 RB had 4 40+ VBD seasons. 7.3%

12 RB had 3 40+ VBD seasons. 8%

18 RB had 2 40+ VBD seasons. 12%

35 RB had 1 40+ VBD season. 23.3%

I then averaged all players VBD by each season of their career.

The curve looks like this:

Year 1 22.5 VBD

Year 2 31.2 VBD

Year 3 33 VBD

Year 4 29 VBD

Year 5 28 VBD

Year 6 31.3 VBD

Year 7 17 VBD

Year 8 11 VBD

Year 9 8.3 VBD

Year 10 4 VBD

Year 11 .2 VBD

Year 12 .2 VBD

The curve is the highest in year 3 of the RBs career. Most of the RB have their best years within their first six seasons.

The rookie season was the lowest average VBD year of the first six seasons. Then the curve takes a pretty steep drop starting in season seven.

I also looked at career length for all of these players. Many of the players in this group are still active and will continue to accrue more seasons. But without factoring that into this I get 6.69 seasons. So I would say on average you can expect a RB career to be seven seasons.

Going back to the number of 40+ VBD seasons only 24% of the group had 3 or more seasons performing at this level. In other words 3 out of four of these RB will have two or less seasons of 40 VBD.

Here is the list of players from the sample-

Emmitt Smith HOF
Curtis Martin HOF
Ricky Watters
LaDainian Tomlinson
Barry Sanders HOF
Marshall Faulk HOF
Adrian Peterson
Edgerrin James
Tiki Barber
Steven Jackson
Corey Dillon
Frank Gore
Jamaal Charles
Eddie George
Clinton Portis
Shaun Alexander
Matt Forte
Chris Johnson
Ray Rice
Marshawn Lynch
Maurice Jones-Drew
Terry Allen
Ahman Green
Priest Holmes
Arian Foster
Terrell Davis
Jamal Lewis
Fred Taylor
Ricky Williams
Rodney Hampton
Brian Westbrook
Warrick Dunn
Thomas Jones
Stephen Davis
Garrison Hearst
Michael Turner
LeSean McCoy
Alfred Morris
Deuce McAllister
Jerome Bettis HOF
Robert Smith
Rudi Johnson
Reggie Bush
Jamal Anderson
Charlie Garner
Duce Staley
Chris Warren
Edgar Bennett
Le'Veon Bell
Domanick Williams
DeMarco Murray
Eddie Lacy
Larry Johnson
Joseph Addai
Ryan Mathews
Travis Henry
James Stewart
Karim Abdul-Jabbar
Rashard Mendenhall
Willis McGahee
Antowain Smith
Cleveland Gary
Mike Anderson
Adrian Murrell
Dorsey Levens
Harvey Williams
Jeremy Hill
Doug Martin
Knowshon Moreno
Barry Foster
Natrone Means
Johnny Johnson
Marion Barber
DeAngelo Williams
Cedric Benson
Darren McFadden
Trent Richardson
Ahmad Bradshaw
Jonathan Stewart
Brandon Jacobs
Raymont Harris
Robert Edwards
Stevan Ridley
Mark Ingram
Steve Slaton
Leonard Russell
Marion Butts
C.J. Spiller
Errict Rhett
Lamar Miller
Lamar Smith
Napoleon Kaufman
Shonn Greene
Anthony Thomas
Mike Alstott
Terry Kirby
Reggie Cobb
Tyrone Wheatley
Michael Bush
Olandis Gary
Gary Brown
LaMont Jordan
Giovani Bernard
Mikel Leshoure
Jahvid Best
Tre Mason
Kevin Jones
Bam Morris
Andre Ellington
Tim Hightower
Kevan Barlow
Laurence Maroney
Andre Brown
Julius Jones
Kevin Smith
Cadillac Williams
Andre Williams
Tim Biakabutuka
Zac Stacy
Tatum Bell
Beanie Wells
Rashaan Salaam
Onterrio Smith
Ronnie Brown
Ben Tate
Michael Pittman
Lawrence Phillips
Chris Brown
Cecil Collins
Jerick McKinnon
Terrance West
LenDale White
Rashad Jennings
DeShaun Foster
Sammie Smith
Ryan Torain
Vick Ballard
William Green
Curtis Enis
Montee Ball
Cedric Houston
Edwin Baker
Brad Baxter
Felix Jones
T.J. Duckett
Ron Dayne
Chester Taylor
Reggie Brooks
Mario Bates
I will follow this up later by parsing the players by age when they entered the league and also looking at the group by NFL draft position.

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Awesome Analysis. Considering that most RBs come out at 21 or 22 years old, even the best of the best seem to wear out by 27-28. I bet if you did this with WR, QB and TE, you'd see a much smoother bell curve.

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Crazy stuff. Good work.

I may be on a very lonely island, but especially in PPR, I am almost getting to the point of neglecting RB.

Of course, this completely depends on league set-up, but in most of my leagues where we can start as few as 1, I am almost giving them little to no thought beyond getting myself 2-3 serviceable RBs w upside.

This from a guy who was a diehard "take 3 stud RBs to start your draft" just a short time ago.

It just doesnt seem to be worth it anymore.

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Observations from looking at this 150 RB players by age when they entered the league.

71.3% of the qualifying players were 21 or 22 years old. I find that convincing enough that some skepticism of RB coming in at age 23 or older should be given. I think that makes sense intuitively with players who are good enough to get a high grade from the draft advisory board entering the NFL at a younger age.

21 years old 45 Players 30%

22 years old 60 Players 40%

23 years old 34 Players 22.6%

24 years old 9 Players 6%

Here are the averages by season of the 45 (30%) 21 year old RB over the average for all RB

29.22 38.98 43.07 28.44 31.36 38.91 23.6 16.18 11.22 4.67 0.56 0.53 0

22.47 31.22 33.01 28.95 28.09 31.33 17.02 10.99 8.33 3.96 0.17 .16 0

This group does significantly better in their rookie season than average. Every season is better than average for the 21 year old group with exception of the fourth season which is only slightly less than the average. While this group does see a large drop in performance in the seventh season, they continue to outperform the average by six, five and five points in the seventh, eighth and ninth seasons respectively.

The 21 year old group gets 51 VBD more than the average over their career.

The average number of useful seasons for this group is 2.38

18 of the 45 players had three or more 40+ VBD seasons. 40%

Emmitt Smith HOF

Barry Sanders HOF

Marshall Faulk HOF

Edgerrin James

Steven Jackson

Jamaal Charles

Clinton Portis

Ray Rice

Marshawn Lynch

Maurice Jones-Drew

Ahman Green

Jamal Lewis

Rodney Hampton

LeSean McCoy

Jerome Bettis HOF

Robert Smith

Rudi Johnson

Reggie Bush

Emmitt Smith came into the league at 21 years old and had a 15 season career. No other player comes close to this.

Here are the averages by season of the 60 (40%) 22 year old RB over the average for all RB

20.36 30.13 30.85 26.55 31.27 29.98 16.03 13.42 12.42 6.4 0 0 0

22.47 31.22 33.01 28.95 28.09 31.33 17.02 10.99 8.33 3.96 0.17 .16 0

This group is slightly below the average in their rookie season. Every season is slightly below the average for the 22 year old group with the exception of the fifth season where they have 3 more VBD than average. In season eight through ten the group performs better than the average but those points are fringe RB3 numbers at best.

The 22 year old group gets 2 VBD more than the average over their career.

The average number of useful seasons for this group is 2.15

22 of the 60 players had three or more 40+ VBD seasons. 37%

Curtis Martin HOF

Ricky Watters

LaDainian Tomlinson

Adrian Peterson

Tiki Barber

Corey Dillon

Frank Gore

Matt Forte

Terry Allen

Terrell Davis

Fred Taylor

Ricky Williams

Warrick Dunn

Thomas Jones

Stephen Davis

Garrison Hearst

Michael Turner

Deuce McAllister

Jamal Anderson

Charlie Garner

Duce Staley

Here are the averages by season of the 34 (22.6%) 23 year old RB over the average for all RB

19.76 30.47 33.03 36.56 16.77 20.94 8.77 2.2 0 0 0 0 0

22.47 31.22 33.01 28.95 28.09 31.33 17.02 10.99 8.33 3.96 0.17 .16 0

This group does slightly worse than the average in their rookie season. The 23 year old group outperforms the average in season three (barely,) and season four, but underperforms the average in all other seasons.

The 23 year old group gets 47.2 VBD less than the average over their career.

The average number of useful seasons for this group is 1.65

Seven of these thirty six players (19.4%) had three or more 40+ VBD seasons.

Arian Foster

Eddie George

Shaun Alexander

Chris Johnson

Brian Westbrook

Alfred Morris has three 40+ VBD seasons and is still active.

Edgar Bennett had four 40+ VBD seasons, starting in his second season.

DeMarco Murray only has two 40+ VBD seasons and he is still active.

Larry Johnson only had two 40+ VBD seasons in part because of splitting time with Priest Holmes.

Eight of these thirty six players (22%) had a RB1 season as a rookie.

Here are the averages by season of the 7 (4.6%) 24 year old RB over the average for all RB

5.11 5.67 2.67 25.11 24.56 36.33 25.67 4.5 0 0 0 0 0

22.47 31.22 33.01 28.95 28.09 31.33 17.02 10.99 8.33 3.96 0.17 .16 0

The 24 year old group is a bit strange because the sample is so small with only seven players from this group qualifying for the top 150. It is also anomalous because of Priest Holmes unusual career path of having three of his best seasons occurring when he was 28 to 30 years old, when most RB are seeing their performance decline. In fact most of this group did not have a 40VBD season until in their fourth season at 27 years old.

The 24 year old group gets 86 VBD less than the average over their career.

Dorsey Levens had his best seasons in year four and then year six. His 27 and 29 years with likely an injury in between.

Harvey Williams didn’t have a 40 VBD season until he was 27 years old. His fourth season. He repeated that in his fifth season at 28 and was not useful after that.

Shonn Greene also didn’t have a 40VBD season until he was 27 years old. He did not repeat that.

Olandis Gary is the only RB from this group who had a 40VBD rookie season. He had 14VBD the season following that then was done.

Andre Ellington made the list on points per game with only 12 VBD in his second season.

Rashad Jennings made the list on points per game in his fifth season at 28 years old because he only has 12 VBD in that season. He is still active.

The group really underperforms the average during their first three seasons, barely having above replacement level performance. Then performs well enough in season four and five for RB2 numbers, although still being below the average for those seasons. This group outperforms the average in seasons six (age 29) by 5 VBD and season seven (age 30) by 8 VBD before falling off.

Antwain Smith was 25 years old as a rookie. He had 16VBD as a rookie and 34 in his second season. Then after two zero seasons he had 78 VBD at age 29 and 110 VBD at age 30.

Mike Anderson was 27 years old as a rookie. He had 99 VBD as a rookie then 58 VBD when he was 31 years old.

For the most part this group of 24 and older players does not do well as a rookie unless they are in a Mike Shanahan offense.

Overall the 21 year old RB has a pretty strong advantage over the rest of the RB.

36 of these 150 players had a 40+ VBD season as a rookie (24%) of those 36 fourteen of them were 21 years old (38.9%)

Those 36 RB averaged four 40+ VBD seasons.

The rest of the 114 RB who did not have a 40 VBD season as a rookie averaged 1.4 40+ VBD seasons.

One final thought about this is durability. Most of these players fail to repeat their numbers due to injury. Or worse have careers that never recover from them. Missing a season due to injury is a big deal. What made Emmitt Smith so good was not just how young he was entering the league, but also how durable he was for such a long time frame.

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Question: Is any of this data relevant?

Usually a bigger sample size is good but with how drastically the game is changing I am not sure it is. What do I mean? I think you are seeing the devaluation of the RB position and the ever increasing committee approach. I would be interested in seeing a comparison of the above with carries per year they have been able to sustain based on the year in which they were draft? Could a player squeak by in the future with 180 carries and still be VBD 40? Thus increasing his length of his time in the NFL?

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For your first question. I think it is relevant because it helps answer the questions of how important age is towards a players career arc.

The larger the sample the more accurate this evaluation becomes. As you see from the age 24+ group which is smaller, the data becomes more influenced by one players career than it is for the other three age groups, that have a larger sample.

There are seasons where RB performance was poor and 30 VBD was enough for a player to qualify as a top 12 at the RB position, but most years it wasn't. One example of this is Joseph Addai in 2006 who finished as RB11 with 30VBD.

The NFL has changed in recent seasons, this is true. However there is always a top 12 regardless of how those RB performed relative to other years.

The problem with trying to look at this in more recent seasons, is that most of the RB in recent years are still active. So we don't know how long their careers will be yet, or how well they will perform in each season of their career. This is why it becomes important to look back further. To gather multiple seasons of completed careers.

The question you ask is an interesting one. But not one I have set out to answer. Perhaps I will do that when I have time.

What I can tell you is that there have been years in the past where RB were not asked to time share as much as they did prior to that or more recently. Chase Stewart wrote a pretty good article covering that about 5 or so years ago. If I can find that I will link it back for you. The general observation was that there were more feature RB in the 1990s up until the mid to late 2000s. I suppose I could show that by sorting the data by year and then looking at the rushing attempts and receptions.

Thanks for the question. I am sure there are several things people might like to know about this, that I have not yet considered.

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Could you example what you mean by VBD? I though that VBD was value based drafting. So a VBD +40 just means that the player is over preforming his draft position or he is being under drafted. How ever you want to use the number it is still based off of drafting.

There's also other aspects of using the the raw, season total numbers that might not be truly reflective. Guys that get late starts in the season vs guys that sat as an RB3 on a FF bench but slowly put up numbers all year.

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The Value Based Draft number is what I used to measure performance of the RB because to me this is the best indicator of top 12 performance for fantasy football. It is not connected to where the player was drafted in FF. It does show where the players should have been drafted. But more importantly it shows how the players performed relative to all other players a FF owner may have rostered or started.

Using PFR each player has VBD numbers near the bottom of the page. It also lists the players position rank as well as overall rank for FF. This is calculated using standard scoring. The values will be different in PPR or other scoring systems. As I compiled the data I paid attention to each players positional rank, and if they were in the top 12 at their position or not in any of their seasons.

Players certainly could be considered useful as RB 13-24 at their position, a RB2 season still helps. But for the purpose of this study I focused on RB who were top 12 at their position, because those players are difference makers, while a RB2 or RB3 has value.. they are more treading water against the rest of the field of starters above replacement level.

The VBD number is tied to where the baseline performance is set. These baselines are not the same from year to year. But they do reflect top 12(ish) performances with a number attached to them for relative comparison purposes.

When I sorted the list by points per game, I did this with the intent of finding players who were useful starters, even if they did not compile enough to qualify as a top 12 player over the course of a season, at least in theory, they were still useful as starters over a shorter time frame.

I do not consider the sample to be perfect. As there are possibly a few players I have missed who were useful, and some of the players who did make the list only did so based off of the PPG numbers, which may or may not have actually started for FF owners over that shorter time frame.

But given the size of the sample I considered this to be a happy medium. I do think the sample could be improved upon, which would cause some minor differences. For the most part this sample would be the same regardless of methodology of baselines and cut offs.

*edit for clarity

I gathered the PFR data for all RB drafted from 1989-2014.This is 612 players.

I then calculated the points per game by dividing the total points by the number of games played and sorted the sample by PPG.

I then set the baseline as the top 150 players by PPG which is the player list in the original post. I chose the top 150 players because there were 300 top 12 RB seasons over the 25 year time frame.

I didn't know what the average number of top 12 seasons for each player was before I set this baseline at 150. As it turns out the average number of top 12 seasons was two. So having a sample that is 50% of the possible 300 top 12 seasons should mean that the sample covers almost all of those 300 because many of the players had a top 12 season two or more times.

There may be some players I missed because I only covered RB that were drafted. This is why I had to add Priest Holmes and Arian Foster at the end to include their careers in the sample.

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For the analysis by draft position I will be using the parameters detailed in this post.

1-13
14-24
25-46
47-73
74-114
115-187
188+
Sorting the draft position in this way will allow me to pair the VBD/PPG data with the draft probabilities by position.
I do not agree with the arbitrary size cut off at 210lbs so I will combine the 2 RB lists to cross reference the bust/success % with the VBD/PPG results.

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So after being distracted a bit I finally got around to evaluating the 1989-2014 RB by draft position.

I sorted the 150 player sample by the draft position detailed in Tony Villotti’s article above.

Picks 1-13

Marshall Faulk HOF

Reggie Bush

Ronnie Brown

Barry Sanders HOF

Garrison Hearst

Trent Richardson

Edgerrin James

Cedric Benson

Darren McFadden

LaDainian Tomlinson

Jamal Lewis

Ricky Williams

Cadillac Williams

Curtis Enis

Lawrence Phillips

Adrian Peterson

Thomas Jones

Tim Biakabutuka

Fred Taylor

C.J. Spiller

Sammie Smith

Jerome Bettis HOF

Ron Dayne

Marshawn Lynch

Warrick Dunn

Ryan Mathews

Knowshon Moreno

Jonathan Stewart

This group consists of 28 players. 46.3% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

43.14 38.96 37.82 30.43 36.11 52.39 39.18 26.43 19.86 8.75 0 0.86 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group outperforms the average by

20.64 7.96 4.82 1.43 8.11 21.1 22.1 15.43 8.56 4.75 0 0 0

The average performance for RB in this group is close to 40VBD for its first seven seasons, with a slight dip in performance (30.43) in the fourth season

It is interesting that this group does much better than average in their rookie season, but only slightly better in the next four seasons. This makes a certain degree of sense due to the high pick investment leading to more instant impact for a RB drafted in this range.

This group also outperforms the average in seasons six and seven. To a lesser degree in season eight and nine as well.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is 2.9 This is 45% better than the average of two for the entire group.

Picks 14-24

Eddie George

Leonard Russell

William Green

Emmitt Smith HOF

Tyrone Wheatley

Robert Edwards

Napoleon Kaufman

T.J. Duckett

Shaun Alexander

James Stewart

Robert Smith

Harvey Williams

Laurence Maroney

Rashaan Salaam

Felix Jones

Deuce McAllister

Rashard Mendenhall

Willis McGahee

Antowain Smith

Steven Jackson

Chris Johnson

Rodney Hampton

This group consists of 22 players. 22.72% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

15.2 36.7 42.6 53.7 27 43.6 42.1 11.7 8.6 7.6 4.6 1.1 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group outperforms the average by

-7.3 5.5 9.6 24.7 -1 12.3 25.1 .7 .3 3.6 4.4 0 0

The average performance for RB in this group is close to 40VBD in five seasons, from season two through four then in season six and seven.

This group has done worse than average in their rookie season compared to later in their careers.

This group also outperforms the average in seasons four and seven. To a lesser degree in season eight and nine as well.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is 2.5 This is 25% better than the average of two for the entire group.

This is the last group to outperform the average without underperforming it.

Picks 25-46

Cleveland Gary

Larry Johnson

DeAngelo Williams

Mark Ingram

Joseph Addai

Reggie Cobb

Jahvid Best

Kevin Jones

Doug Martin

Beanie Wells

Errict Rhett

DeShaun Foster

Mike Alstott

Tiki Barber

Giovani Bernard

Anthony Thomas

Natrone Means

Tatum Bell

Charlie Garner

Corey Dillon

Julius Jones

Matt Forte

Mario Bates

Ricky Watters

LenDale White

Reggie Brooks

This group consists of 26 players. 27% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

22.9 32.4 21.3 27.6 24.7 13 20.5 13.7 12.9 15 3.9 0 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group out/undertperforms the average by

.4 1.2 -12.3 -1.4 -.3 -18.3 3.5 2.7 4.6 11 3.7 0 0

The average performance for RB in this group is never close to 40VBD. The best season is in year two.

This group has dose marginally better than average in their rookie season.

This group also under performs the average in seasons three through six. Outpeforms the average in seasons seven through nine.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is 1.6 This is 20% worse than the average of two for the entire group.

Picks 47-73

Le'Veon Bell

LaMont Jordan

Clinton Portis

LeSean McCoy

Ray Rice

Jeremy Hill

Mikel Leshoure

Travis Henry

Ben Tate

Montee Ball

Maurice Jones-Drew

Eddie Lacy

Kevin Smith

Frank Gore

Shonn Greene

Duce Staley

DeMarco Murray

Jamaal Charles

Stevan Ridley

Lamar Smith

This group consists of 20 players. 25% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

23.7 53.1 36.85 33.9 29.6 26.7 9.8 6.6 2.5 1.4 0 0 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group outperforms the average by

1.2 21.9 3.9 4.9 1.6 -3.6 -7.2 -4.4 -5.2 -2.6 -.2 0 0

The average performance for RB in this group is never close to 40VBD. The best season is in year two.

This group has dose marginally better than average in their rookie season.

This group also under performs the average from season six and on. Outpeforms the average significantly in season two but performs near the average in seasons one through five.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is 2.3 This is 15% better than the average of two for the entire group.

It is interesting that this group has slightly better chance of having two top 12 RB seasons than the group before it. This group outperforms the previous group in average VBD in seasons one through five. The only season the previous group outperforms this one is in season six.

Picks 74-114

Curtis Martin HOF

Tre Mason

Ahman Green

Terry Kirby

Karim Abdul-Jabbar

Kevan Barlow

Chris Warren

Steve Slaton

Brian Westbrook

Bam Morris

Chris Brown

Terrance West

Michael Pittman

Jerick McKinnon

Lamar Miller

Rudi Johnson

Michael Bush

Domanick Williams

Stephen Davis

Edgar Bennett

Onterrio Smith

Marion Barber

Brandon Jacobs

Andre Williams

Raymont Harris

This group consists of 25 players. 20% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

15.36 15.8 21.4 29.36 21.8 27 12 4.8 1.92 4.84 0 0 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group out/undertperforms the average by

-7.1 -15.4 -11.6 .36 -6.2 -4.3 -5 -6.2 -6.4 .84 -.2 -.2 0

The average performance for RB in this group is never close to 40VBD. The best season is in year four.

This group does worse than average in their rookie season.

This group also under performs the average every season but year four and year ten, when the group performs slightly above the average.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is 1.7 This is 15% worse than the average of two for the entire group.

Picks 115-187

Adrian Murrell

Olandis Gary

Barry Foster

Andre Brown

Cecil Collins

Ryan Torain

Dorsey Levens

Tim Hightower

Michael Turner

Zac Stacy

Johnny Johnson

Vick Ballard

Alfred Morris

Cedric Houston

Marion Butts

Andre Ellington

This group consists of 16 players. 12.5% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

13.8 7.3 15.6 16.2 11.4 9.3 5 4.3 2.5 0 0 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group out/undertperforms the average by

-8.7 -23.9 -17.4 -12.8 -16.6 -22 -12 -6.7 -5.8 -4 -.2 -.2 0

The average performance for RB in this group is never close to 40VBD. The best season is in year four.

This group does worse than average in their rookie season.

This group also under performs the average every season.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is .94 This is 47% worse than the average of two for the entire group.

Picks 188+

Mike Anderson

Terrell Davis

Jamal Anderson

Chester Taylor

Gary Brown

Terry Allen

Ahmad Bradshaw

Rashad Jennings

Edwin Baker

Brad Baxter

Priest Holmes

Arian Foster

This group consists of 12 players. 16.6% of these players performed as a top 12 RB as rookies.

The average VBD numbers for this group by season are

12.9 43.9 39.4 48.6 49.3 34.3 22 5.6 0 0

Compared to the average of

22.5 31.2 33 29 28 31.3 17 11 8.3 4 .2 .2 0

This group out/undertperforms the average by

-9.6 12.7 6.4 11.6 11.3 3 5 -5.4 -8.3 -4 -.2 -.2 0

The average performance for RB in this group is close to 40VBD in season two through five. The best seasons are years four and five.

This group does worse than average in their rookie season.

This group out performs the average seasons two though five.

The average number of top 12 seasons for this group is 2.2 This is 10% better than the average of two for the entire group.

Overall it looks like it is a good thing to be a top 24 RB pick.

Picks 25-46 perform near the average for the most part but are actually somewhat worse than the next group.

Picks 47-73 outperform the average in their first five seasons but underperform it in each season after that.

The 74-188 range of picks has some good careers to come out of it. However there are many one year wonder types as well. RB drafted in this range underperform the average of the whole group.

The 188+ group was actually better than most of the groups ahead of it. But this is in part because of the small sample size and some very successful RB careers here. If you consider the very small chance of a RB being a 5 year starter from this draft range (something like 1% when combining small and large RB, Large RB had zero chance and were more numerous), that perhaps puts this into better perspective.

After going through this I feel the draft range cuts offs are a bit arbitrary. But at least each group can be compared with the other data this way.

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Interesting. One way to eliminate the arbitrary cut-offs would be to scatterplot VBD by individual draft slot and then run a regression line to smooth the relationship.

I pulled together similar data although I carved up the data by position ranking vs. draft position (e.g. who was the first RB drafted that year, regardless of actual draft position). I'll post those details in the Dynasty Value Assessment thread.

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Crazy stuff. Good work.

I may be on a very lonely island, but especially in PPR, I am almost getting to the point of neglecting RB.

Of course, this completely depends on league set-up, but in most of my leagues where we can start as few as 1, I am almost giving them little to no thought beyond getting myself 2-3 serviceable RBs w upside.

This from a guy who was a diehard "take 3 stud RBs to start your draft" just a short time ago.

It just doesnt seem to be worth it anymore.

I'm leaning more towards your thinking as well. There are just so many RBBCs out there now that it's really not worth spending an 1st round pick on a RB in fantasy. I'd rather take a chance on one of those RBs drafted in the 3rd - 5th round and hope he can contribute at some point. Better than feeling the burn that a guy who took Melvin Gordon at 1.01 only to watch him work on 1st and 2nd downs, then get taken out of the game on passing situations or in the red zone. Seems like you have your 1st and 2nd down guys, short yardage guys, red zone guys, 3rd down guys, passing situation guys, etc. Just way too many RB packages out in the NFL now. I'd rather stock up on WRs and TEs and hope to trade them if you end up with a glut. Unless you can land the next AP, 2014 Demarco Murray (I don't think he will ever reach his 2014 #'s in Philly), or Leveon Bell I'd rather go for those WRs since teams are capable of supporting 3 solid WRs in this passing era.

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dynasty leagues favor wrs because of longevity

Ppr leagues favor wrs by balancing scoring

start 1 rb leagues favor wrs because rb depth is expensive and no longer necessary

Deep lineups favor wrs because developmental wrs outscore replacement level rbs

Deep rosters favor wrs because stud wrs rarely get hurt and you can consolidate your talent into young developmental wrs while using them as your depth, which leaves you room for a bunch of junk/spare parts at rb in the hopes of striking gold.

The industry has massively over corrected the perceived bias towards stud rb and taken a huge element of strategy out of the game. And people are locked into these rule sets long term which massively favors the tasks that took advantage early.

The good news is that the playing field is leveling out, and everyone talked about getting stud wrs last year before the draft, even in redraft. The bad news is that a lot of these wr heavy Internet dynasty leagues will fold because people realize they ducked up. And that will hurt the industry.

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Interesting. One way to eliminate the arbitrary cut-offs would be to scatterplot VBD by individual draft slot and then run a regression line to smooth the relationship.

I pulled together similar data although I carved up the data by position ranking vs. draft position (e.g. who was the first RB drafted that year, regardless of actual draft position). I'll post those details in the Dynasty Value Assessment thread.

I think this is a good idea. It will help adjust for change in draft classes somewhat. For example the last two seasons there has been no 1st round RB and in general RB have been being drafted later than they used to go back in the nineties.

There is also the anomoly of the 2005 draft which had 3 RB taken in the top 5.

Here is the RB taken with pick 5 or higher

Marshall Faulk HOF
Reggie Bush
Ronnie Brown
Barry Sanders HOF
Garrison Hearst
Trent Richardson
Edgerrin James
Cedric Benson
Darren McFadden
LaDainian Tomlinson
Jamal Lewis
Ricky Williams
Cadillac Williams
Curtis Enis
There are 3 of these players (21%) who bust and never provide a top 12 season.
3 others only had one top 12 season (21%).
Bush had 3 near top 12 seasons (7%).
The other seven had four or mote top 12 seasons (50%)
So it is a really rare thing for a RB to be drafted in the top five. 43% of them never had more than one top 12 season. The other 57% have been some of the best RB for FF over the past 25 years. Reggie Bush is the most recent one to be a success. Before that it was LT in 2001.

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