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The Breaking Point (1 Viewer)

Bob Magaw

Footballguy
Q & A from fantasy index addresses this subject... executive summary... article suggests lot of RBs break down around age 31-32... only 16 X (out of 450) in history has a 31 year old RB rushed for 1,000 yards... the number drops down to 10 at 32 (no stats provided for 33+)... of course, another take might be that most of these historical stats (which go back decades) were compiled when the state of the art in sports surgery & rehab were pretty different from what exists today...

as far as some names mentioned in the article... martin, dillon & priest look like they could be breaking down... certainly there value has gone down in dynasty leagues... tiki is an interesting case where he is playing at such a high level (so was priest as recently as... still :) ), that he doesn't look like the kind of guy that is going to hit the wall soon... he didn't get as much work initially in his career, & he is so fast & elusive that he hasn't accumulated a lot of the shots over the years that take a cumulative toll & end careers prematurely...

___________________________________________________________________

"Each year, you mention in your magazine about how running backs over the magical age of 30 seem to break down (or at least their production begins to decrease). Is there any historical evidence to suggest that after 'x' number of carries a running back begins to decline? Lots of people believe that a running back only has a certain number of carries in him. You always do a great job of historical analysis so I was wondering if there was a specific number to keep in mind."

XXXXXX XXXXXX

Seattle

"I think most people tend to consider the magic number to be 30. I think it's fairer, however, to go with something like 31 or 32. I think athletes are a lot more careful and smart about training nowadays, taking care of their bodies year-round. And there's no arguing that surgeons are better. So perhaps that's raised the bar. In recent years, we've seen a lot of good years from older backs -- Tiki Barber (30) last year; Curtis Martin (31) and Corey Dillon (30) in 2004; Priest Holmes (30) in 2003; and Garrison Hearst (30) in 2001. But a lot of those backs, including Martin, Dillon and Holmes last year, have tended to fall off at about the age of 31-32. In NFL history, running backs have run for 1,000-plus yards in a season 450 times. Of those 450, 35 were 30-plus years old when the season ended, only 16 were 31 or over, and only 10 were at least 32 years old. To me, that seems to be the area of decline."

 
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JohnDoe

Footballguy
Doug Drinnen looked at aging patterns back in 2001. To summarize, a RBs peak year should occur around the age of 25 and start to decline after age 26. The decline becomes sharper around age 30. Link to Article

 

Family Matters

Footballguy
I do subscribe to the theory as a guidline but you have to look at each case on it's own merits. Preist is good example. LAst year many said he would not do well at his age. When pressed they said he would become injured. Well he did but I do not feel that was anything more than luck that they guessed it right. Nothing suggested he was going to be injured. Of course he has some history but even still it's a guessing game.

Some guys like to use risk factors in this situation. I think that makes more sense. Knowing Priest was a higher risk is something that makes more sense than to "guess" that he was going to get injured.

I think that age is a similar factor of "risk".

 

Fumbleweed

Footballguy
I look at # of carries more than age. RBs seem to hit a wall with a certain # of carries as opposed to a particular age....and like many have said, there are exceptions.

Please don't tell Shaun Alexander that RBs peak at 25 and start to descend at 26....or Priest or Faulk. What a silly notion that is.

 

Family Matters

Footballguy
I look at # of carries more than age. RBs seem to hit a wall with a certain # of carries as opposed to a particular age....and like many have said, there are exceptions.

Please don't tell Shaun Alexander that RBs peak at 25 and start to descend at 26....or Priest or Faulk. What a silly notion that is.
Is there any info to support that? I think there's some merit to it but I haven't read anything that would prove it. It just seems to make sense.
 

Rev

Footballguy
Often, when a RB gets past 30, his team drafts a young stud to gradually work him out of a job (Faulk/Jackson is a good example, as is Priest/LJ).

In these cases, age is a secondary factor... Because of the veteran RB's age, his team forces him to reduce and share carries with an understudy.

 

David Yudkin

Footballguy
Here's a different way to look at things. I will use the 1,000 yard rushing barometer as the evaluation criteria. Here are the number of 1,000 yard rushers and the number of RB that have taken the field at that age since 1960.

37: 0 in 3 (0.00%)

36: 0 in 11 (0.00%)

35: 2 in 22 (9.09%)

34: 1 in 40 (2.50%)

33: 2 in 83 (2.41%)

32: 5 in 123 (4.07%)

31: 7 in 203 (3.45%)

30: 18 in 297 (6.06%)

29: 33 in 409 (8.07%)

28: 37 in 540 (6.85%)

27: 55 in 708 (7.77%)

26: 70 in 868 (8.06%)

25: 70 in 997 (7.02%)

24: 68 in 1062 (6.40%)

23: 46 in 953 (4.83%)

22: 25 in 502 (4.98%)

21: 7 in 36 (19.4%)

20: 0 in 1 (0.00%)

Total: 446 in 6858 (6.5%)

36 or older: 0 in 14 (0.00%)

35 or older: 2 in 36 (5.56%)

34 or older: 3 in 76 (3.95%)

33 or older: 5 in 159 (3.14%)

32 or older: 10 in 282 (3.55%)

31 or older: 17 in 484 (3.51%)

30 or older: 35 in 781 (4.48%)

29 or older: 68 in 1190 (5.71%)

28 or older: 105 in 1730 (6.07%)

27 or older: 160 in 2438 (6.56%)

26 or older: 230 in 3306 (6.96%)

25 or older: 300 in 4303 (6.97%)

24 or older: 368 in 5365 (6.86%)

23 or older: 414 in 6318 (6.55%)

22 or older: 439 in 6820 (6.44%)

21 or older: 446 in 6856 (6.51%)

Since this is very raw data, there are a lot of explanations as to why the numbers reflect what they do. But it does appear that on the surface the chances of a RB having a 1,000 yard season beyond age 30 do diminish a fair amount.

 

Rev

Footballguy
Here's a different way to look at things. I will use the 1,000 yard rushing barometer as the evaluation criteria. Here are the number of 1,000 yard rushers and the number of RB that have taken the field at that age since 1960.

37: 0 in 3 (0.00%)

36: 0 in 11 (0.00%)

35: 2 in 22 (9.09%)

34: 1 in 40 (2.50%)

33: 2 in 83 (2.41%)

32: 5 in 123 (4.07%)

31: 7 in 203 (3.45%)

30: 18 in 297 (6.06%)

29: 33 in 409 (8.07%)

28: 37 in 540 (6.85%)

27: 55 in 708 (7.77%)

26: 70 in 868 (8.06%)

25: 70 in 997 (7.02%)

24: 68 in 1062 (6.40%)

23: 46 in 953 (4.83%)

22: 25 in 502 (4.98%)

21: 7 in 36 (19.4%)

20: 0 in 1 (0.00%)

Total: 446 in 6858 (6.5%)

36 or older: 0 in 14 (0.00%)

35 or older: 2 in 36 (5.56%)

34 or older: 3 in 76 (3.95%)

33 or older: 5 in 159 (3.14%)

32 or older: 10 in 282 (3.55%)

31 or older: 17 in 484 (3.51%)

30 or older: 35 in 781 (4.48%)

29 or older: 68 in 1190 (5.71%)

28 or older: 105 in 1730 (6.07%)

27 or older: 160 in 2438 (6.56%)

26 or older: 230 in 3306 (6.96%)

25 or older: 300 in 4303 (6.97%)

24 or older: 368 in 5365 (6.86%)

23 or older: 414 in 6318 (6.55%)

22 or older: 439 in 6820 (6.44%)

21 or older: 446 in 6856 (6.51%)

Since this is very raw data, there are a lot of explanations as to why the numbers reflect what they do. But it does appear that on the surface the chances of a RB having a 1,000 yard season beyond age 30 do diminish a fair amount.
What your post does tell me is that IF a player can stick around into his mid 30s, he has about 1/2 the likelihood of excelling that a 20-something RB does. At least I think that's what your stats say.?
 

rzrback77

IBL Representative
Here's a different way to look at things. I will use the 1,000 yard rushing barometer as the evaluation criteria. Here are the number of 1,000 yard rushers and the number of RB that have taken the field at that age since 1960.

37: 0 in 3 (0.00%)

36: 0 in 11 (0.00%)

35: 2 in 22 (9.09%)

34: 1 in 40 (2.50%)

33: 2 in 83 (2.41%)

32: 5 in 123 (4.07%)

31: 7 in 203 (3.45%)

30: 18 in 297 (6.06%)

29: 33 in 409 (8.07%)

28: 37 in 540 (6.85%)

27: 55 in 708 (7.77%)

26: 70 in 868 (8.06%)

25: 70 in 997 (7.02%)

24: 68 in 1062 (6.40%)

23: 46 in 953 (4.83%)

22: 25 in 502 (4.98%)

21: 7 in 36 (19.4%)

20: 0 in 1 (0.00%)

Total: 446 in 6858 (6.5%)

36 or older: 0 in 14 (0.00%)

35 or older: 2 in 36 (5.56%)

34 or older: 3 in 76 (3.95%)

33 or older: 5 in 159 (3.14%)

32 or older: 10 in 282 (3.55%)

31 or older: 17 in 484 (3.51%)

30 or older: 35 in 781 (4.48%)

29 or older: 68 in 1190 (5.71%)

28 or older: 105 in 1730 (6.07%)

27 or older: 160 in 2438 (6.56%)

26 or older: 230 in 3306 (6.96%)

25 or older: 300 in 4303 (6.97%)

24 or older: 368 in 5365 (6.86%)

23 or older: 414 in 6318 (6.55%)

22 or older: 439 in 6820 (6.44%)

21 or older: 446 in 6856 (6.51%)

Since this is very raw data, there are a lot of explanations as to why the numbers reflect what they do. But it does appear that on the surface the chances of a RB having a 1,000 yard season beyond age 30 do diminish a fair amount.
David, very interesting input. But is the 6,856 all the RBs. What if you looked at only those RBs that actually ran for 1,000 yards in a season. Wouldn't that tell you more about the percentage of those actually capable of performing at a high standard and what they were able to do as they aged?Thanks

 

David Yudkin

Footballguy
Here's a different way to look at things.  I will use the 1,000 yard rushing barometer as the evaluation criteria.  Here are the number of 1,000 yard rushers and the number of RB that have taken the field at that age since 1960.

37: 0 in 3 (0.00%)

36: 0 in 11 (0.00%)

35: 2 in 22 (9.09%)

34: 1 in 40 (2.50%)

33: 2 in 83 (2.41%)

32: 5 in 123 (4.07%)

31: 7 in 203 (3.45%)

30: 18 in 297 (6.06%)

29: 33 in 409 (8.07%)

28: 37 in 540 (6.85%)

27: 55 in 708 (7.77%)

26: 70 in 868 (8.06%)

25: 70 in 997 (7.02%)

24: 68 in 1062 (6.40%)

23: 46 in 953 (4.83%)

22: 25 in 502 (4.98%)

21: 7 in 36 (19.4%)

20: 0 in 1 (0.00%)

Total: 446 in 6858 (6.5%)

36 or older: 0 in 14 (0.00%)

35 or older: 2 in 36 (5.56%)

34 or older: 3 in 76 (3.95%)

33 or older: 5 in 159 (3.14%)

32 or older: 10 in 282 (3.55%)

31 or older: 17 in 484 (3.51%)

30 or older: 35 in 781 (4.48%)

29 or older: 68 in 1190 (5.71%)

28 or older: 105 in 1730 (6.07%)

27 or older: 160 in 2438 (6.56%)

26 or older: 230 in 3306 (6.96%)

25 or older: 300 in 4303 (6.97%)

24 or older: 368 in 5365 (6.86%)

23 or older: 414 in 6318 (6.55%)

22 or older: 439 in 6820 (6.44%)

21 or older: 446 in 6856 (6.51%)

Since this is very raw data, there are a lot of explanations as to why the numbers reflect what they do.  But it does appear that on the surface the chances of a RB having a 1,000 yard season beyond age 30 do diminish a fair amount.
David, very interesting input. But is the 6,856 all the RBs. What if you looked at only those RBs that actually ran for 1,000 yards in a season. Wouldn't that tell you more about the percentage of those actually capable of performing at a high standard and what they were able to do as they aged?Thanks
The 6,856 is the total number of seasons played by all RB since 1960. The 446 are the total number of 1,000 yard seasons. I listed both the number of 1,000 yard seasons for each age.Simply listing the number of 1,000 yard seasons by age would be very misleading. There have been a lot fewer RB that played at 34 than 24, making the percentage overall the important thing.

For example, I had a bone to pick with Dodds in the preseason on a Player Faceoff over Trent Green. His argument was that there were only 5 QBs in 45 years at age 35 that scored 326 fantasy points--and that Green would not come close to scoring that many because it was such a rare feat. Afterall, IT'S ONLY HAPPENED 5 TIMES in 45 YEARS.

However, there have been so few QB that were starters at 35 that 5 was the same (or slightly HIGHER) percentage than at other ages.

For all QB with at least 450 passing attempts in a season since 1960:

All QB seasons through age 34: 42 of 256 (16.4%)

Age 35+: 5 of 30 (16.7%)

So in this instance, there was no data at all to suggest that Green stood any less chance of scoring that many points--but it certainly SOUNDED like it should make a difference. (For the record, Green did not score 326 points, but turning 35 on its own was not a death sentence for his production.)

 

Ozymandias

Footballguy
Often, when a RB gets past 30, his team drafts a young stud to gradually work him out of a job (Faulk/Jackson is a good example, as is Priest/LJ). 

In these cases, age is a secondary factor... Because of the veteran RB's age, his team forces him to reduce and share carries with an understudy.
This is a very relevant point for FF. When you think of people who are on the cusp, the chances are that a younger back will start to steal carries. So its a double whammy; his skills have eroded somewhat, and the coach gives the younger back more opportunities. Of course, the figures show the effects of this double whammy.
 
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UnknownCoach

Footballguy
Its not just RBs. Its all of us. We are human. The older we get the easier we get hurt AND the longer and less effective we heal. Men in their early 20s are still growing although it slows down. Men can continue to build strong muscles easily well into their 30s but injuries happen more frequently to even those muscles. Joints and bones on the other hand kinda stop growing by the mid 20s. At that point, lesser injuries add up. Great advances in surgery help, but they dont allow the body to heal any faster or better like age does.

RBs touch the ball more than anybody but the QB and are frequently hit while running at high speed. Younger men are somewhat less likely to suffer an injury, have an easier time playing through an injury, and heal from injuries faster. They can also play at a highly productive level sooner than other positions.

So just because Dillon was hurt last year and Tiki wasnt means little to nothing for 2006. They are both still old. Neither has had many severe injuries. Both have virtually the same injury risk assuming both are practicing at full strength in camp.

I look primarily at current health and age when determining injury risk. The only time I usually consider an old injury as a risk is if its something that has reaccured. Even then, its usually much less of an issue than age. Faulk is still playing with his "degenerative" knee. However they know that hits do hurt that knee and that he wont recover as easily as he used to.

 

BoltBacker

Footballguy
Its not just RBs. Its all of us. We are human. The older we get the easier we get hurt AND the longer and less effective we heal.
True, but it has less of an effect on the positions of OL, QB and K. Those positions rely on experience and technique more so than speed/agility.I think that's one of the big reasons RB is one of the few positions where a guy can just roll in his rookie year and contribute. His success hinges so much on his pure athletic prowess.

 
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Bri

Footballguy
I can't remember why Okoye, Word, Freeman McNeil, Rodney Hampton, Natrone, Bam Morris(think he was arrested too many times or somesuch) Seahawk RB Curt...a slew of RBs were "shut down". I do remember Terry Allen being "done" and then playing well in Washington. OJ Anderson being "done" and playing well in NY. Are there any RBs that their career was cut short because of their age and NOT because of lack of production?

 

BoltBacker

Footballguy
Are there any RBs that their career was cut short because of their age and NOT because of lack of production?
Yes and no.I can't think of a single instance where a RB gained 1200 yards and was told he wasn't wanted anymore because he was too old. On the other hand if a RB has a season or two averaging less than 3.5y/c and he's 35yo then he's much less likely to get another chance then a guy with the same stats at 25yo.

BTW I think most of the guys you listed just became to injury prone to be counted on anymore. It wasn't as much a matter of how they ran when healthy as whether they could ever stay healthy long enough to contribute.

 

Liquid Tension

Footballguy
Simply listing the number of 1,000 yard seasons by age would be very misleading. There have been a lot fewer RB that played at 34 than 24, making the percentage overall the important thing.

For example, I had a bone to pick with Dodds in the preseason on a Player Faceoff over Trent Green. His argument was that there were only 5 QBs in 45 years at age 35 that scored 326 fantasy points--and that Green would not come close to scoring that many because it was such a rare feat. Afterall, IT'S ONLY HAPPENED 5 TIMES in 45 YEARS.

However, there have been so few QB that were starters at 35 that 5 was the same (or slightly HIGHER) percentage than at other ages.

For all QB with at least 450 passing attempts in a season since 1960:

All QB seasons through age 34: 42 of 256 (16.4%)

Age 35+: 5 of 30 (16.7%)

So in this instance, there was no data at all to suggest that Green stood any less chance of scoring that many points--but it certainly SOUNDED like it should make a difference. (For the record, Green did not score 326 points, but turning 35 on its own was not a death sentence for his production.)

Interesting point here. In some ways the suggestion is that IF you are good enough to start at an older age you probably could perform at a similar level as a younger guy. These days we have seen Curtis Martin (04), Tiki Barber and even Dunn perform well at an older age. Priest did as well. The factors about platooning because the management has brought in younger guys to replcae are as much of a factor.

I don't believe guys just fall off a cliff when they hit a certain age. I am sure Martin could have played well if he was running in Indy last year. Is he slowing, yeah, but he could still be effective if in the right situation. If Ahman Green were healthy I am sure he could run in Denver's offense and he is a guy who does show wear and tear.

 

LHUCKS

Footballguy
Please don't tell Warrick Dunn.
Warrick Dunn's YPC in '05 = 5.1Ignore blanket statements about age. Pay attention to the details and what you see in the games.

 
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Sopranos

Footballguy
Here's a different way to look at things. I will use the 1,000 yard rushing barometer as the evaluation criteria. Here are the number of 1,000 yard rushers and the number of RB that have taken the field at that age since 1960.

37: 0 in 3 (0.00%)

36: 0 in 11 (0.00%)

35: 2 in 22 (9.09%)

34: 1 in 40 (2.50%)

33: 2 in 83 (2.41%)

32: 5 in 123 (4.07%)

31: 7 in 203 (3.45%)

30: 18 in 297 (6.06%)

29: 33 in 409 (8.07%)

28: 37 in 540 (6.85%)

27: 55 in 708 (7.77%)

26: 70 in 868 (8.06%)

25: 70 in 997 (7.02%)

24: 68 in 1062 (6.40%)

23: 46 in 953 (4.83%)

22: 25 in 502 (4.98%)

21: 7 in 36 (19.4%)

20: 0 in 1 (0.00%)

Total: 446 in 6858 (6.5%)

36 or older: 0 in 14 (0.00%)

35 or older: 2 in 36 (5.56%)

34 or older: 3 in 76 (3.95%)

33 or older: 5 in 159 (3.14%)

32 or older: 10 in 282 (3.55%)

31 or older: 17 in 484 (3.51%)

30 or older: 35 in 781 (4.48%)

29 or older: 68 in 1190 (5.71%)

28 or older: 105 in 1730 (6.07%)

27 or older: 160 in 2438 (6.56%)

26 or older: 230 in 3306 (6.96%)

25 or older: 300 in 4303 (6.97%)

24 or older: 368 in 5365 (6.86%)

23 or older: 414 in 6318 (6.55%)

22 or older: 439 in 6820 (6.44%)

21 or older: 446 in 6856 (6.51%)

Since this is very raw data, there are a lot of explanations as to why the numbers reflect what they do. But it does appear that on the surface the chances of a RB having a 1,000 yard season beyond age 30 do diminish a fair amount.
It appears because its true. I dont see how its a debate anymore. Yes there is C Martin,W dunn and others but its VERY less likely past the age of 30. There was a post of the # of RB that have ran for 1000 yards at 30years or more

and compared to how many did it at 27-28 years old. It wasnt even close. Some think like 18% of them after 30 years compared to the 100% of the 27 year olds.

:popcorn:

 

Red Herring

Footballguy
Please don't tell Warrick Dunn.
Warrick Dunn's YPC in '05 = 5.1Ignore blanket statements about age. Pay attention to the details and what you see in the games.
All generalizations are bad. That said, I agree it isn't a hard and fast rule, but it does give you a better idea when to look, as well as when to sell high (i.e. 29 or 30)
 

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