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[DYNASTY] Is Jonathan Stewart a buy low?


EBF

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If you think there are only 2-3 RBs in this draft class that could hurt Stewart's fantasy outlook, your seeing what you want to see. There are about 7 guys who could, maybe more. Any RB taken in round 1 or 2 would qualify and by my count that's anywhere between 6-9 guys. I don't think RB is a particularly high focus for Car in this draft but they could easily take one. They just had Gurley in town and apparently love him. It's doubtful he falls that far but if so, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they pick him. I do think Car drafts a RB, but I find it much more probabl it's a late pick and one that Stewart wouldn't have to worry about much. Still, the amount of guys who can hurt him is significantly longer than a list of 2-3. There are 2 RBs who are flat out better than him IMO.

I have looked at this RB class in depth and I disagree with all of that. Stewart was a better prospect than any of this year's incoming rookies. There are very few things that Gurley/Gordon do better than him. He's bigger and more powerful than either, as well as being faster and more explosive.

If you don't buy that take, fine. Look at the facts.

- #13 overall pick in the 2008 draft (no RB this year will go that high)

- 4.6 career NFL YPC with almost 5,000 career rushing yards

- #26 on the NFL's all-time YPC leaderboard

When you factor in the experience edge that he'll have over any rookie, the odds of someone coming in and significantly impacting his production from day one are extremely slim. Objectively, Stewart is probably one of the top 10 RB prospects of the past decade. If you think there are almost 10 guys in this draft who can threaten him, you have a very skewed perception of rookie talent vs. veteran talent.

That is a common mistake. When you spend a lot of time evaluating prospects in the context of amateur football, it's easy to exaggerate how gifted they are. When you compare them with the best players in the NFL, many of those NCAA standouts don't look so hot. Stewart has nothing to fear from the likes of Mike Davis, TJ Yeldon, and Duke Johnson. With D-Will out of town, the biggest threat to Stewart's production is his durability.

I would probably slot Stewart ahead of Gordon but solidly behind Gurley as a prospect.

As Jurb pointed out, your numbers are skewed at best, and irresponsibly intentionally misleading at worst. Being drafted #13 in the same draft where another RB went #4, and over a three year period where 5 RBs were drafted in the top 7 is not a major accomplishment. As Jurb mentioned, RBs were valued very differently at the time and he was about the 12th highest drafted RB over a 5 year span. Gurley will likely end up as about the 3rd-5th highest drafted RB over a 5 year span, even coming off an ACL injury (without the ACL he would almost certainly be the 2nd highest behind only Richardson).

His YPC stats are equally misleading, as he spent the majority of his early career on fresh legs behind one of the elite run blocking lines of his generation. DeMarco Murray has benefited from something similar to the tune of a higher YPC than Stewart and I highly doubt you would consider him one of the greatest RBs of the generation. As I've pointed out before over the years, he rarely separated himself from his peers on his own team from a YPC standpoint. You could argue that his peer was great as well as DeAngelo was in his prime, but even a clearly over-the-hill DeAngelo kept up with him until this year. Further, the year where he split the starting job with Mike Goodson their production, including YPC, were basically identical.

All of that said, I do agree that Stewart was a great prospect and a great talent early in his career. However, I have seen nothing out of Stewart the last two years that looks like even 80% of what he was as a 23 year old. A career of leg injuries have clearly taken their toll on him. I doubt his current 40, short shuttle, etc would even be recognizable next to his combine numbers.

I think he's a definitive hold in dynasty as no one is buying and I think Carolina is unlikely to use an early pick on a RB unless a guy falls that they just can't pass up on. That said, expectations are vastly different from what they once were. He's no longer a "if he can just get the starting job and stay healthy he could be the premiere dynasty RB" type of guy. He's several years removed from that. He's now a "if he can just get the starting job and stay healthy he can probably be a solid RB2" type of guy. A solid RB2 is good value at his current price, but it's time to give up on the notion that he has a size/speed/power combination that no one outside of Adrian Peterson can match. That ship has sailed.

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Talk about skewed data. We're comparing the 2008 draft to now? Back then RBs were regularly drafted high. The position has been devalued. On top of that, most everyone acknowledges Gurley as a top 5 talent in this draft. He's undoubtly a better talent than Stewart. Devaluation and his knee will drop him, though. Gordon is also better IMO and many share that opinion.

It has always been hard for RBs to get picked in the first round. I don't believe it's significantly harder now than it was in 2008. As always, the specifics on how many players from X position get picked in the first round each year hinge on the quality of the players available. If there are lots of elite RB prospects in the pool, lots of RBs will go in the top 32 picks. The supply hasn't been there in recent years, but that doesn't say anything about past classes.

I wouldn't say Gurley is "undoubtedly" a better talent than Stewart. It's entirely subjective. I don't think he's better. In all likelihood, he won't be picked higher. Given that Stewart has already been successful in the NFL, that's yet another reason to doubt that statement.

Being drafted #13 in the same draft where another RB went #4, and over a three year period where 5 RBs were drafted in the top 7 is not a major accomplishment.

That's probably the funniest thing I've read today.

It has never been easy to go that high. Being deemed one of the top 15 football players in your draft class is always a major accomplishment.

I think he's a definitive hold in dynasty as no one is buying and I think Carolina is unlikely to use an early pick on a RB unless a guy falls that they just can't pass up on. That said, expectations are vastly different from what they once were. He's no longer a "if he can just get the starting job and stay healthy he could be the premiere dynasty RB" type of guy. He's several years removed from that. He's now a "if he can just get the starting job and stay healthy he can probably be a solid RB2" type of guy. A solid RB2 is good value at his current price, but it's time to give up on the notion that he has a size/speed/power combination that no one outside of Adrian Peterson can match. That ship has sailed.

That's a nice story, but he averaged 4.6 YPC last season and 5.2 YPC in the playoffs.

The reality is that a lot of people wrote Stewart off a little too soon. Rather than give him any credit or acknowledge any potential, they'll just dismiss any positive takes on him and instead cling to the idea that he's done. He provided a good return on his redraft ADP last season and has a chance to do well in 2015. If he can pick up where he left off and stay relatively healthy, he'll be a nice value again.

Edited by EBF
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The reality is that a lot of people wrote Stewart off a little too soon. Rather than give him any credit or acknowledge any potential, they'll just dismiss any positive takes on him and instead cling to the idea that he's done. He provided a good return on his redraft ADP last season and has a chance to do well in 2015. If he can pick up where he left off and stay relatively healthy, he'll be a nice value again.

The reality is that even more people didn't write Stewart off soon enough. Sure, his value increased slightly last year, but that's like being excited after you rode a stock from $100 down to $1 and now it's back up to $5.

Sure, he outperformed his redraft ADP last season overall, but he really didn't help most of his owners. He was pretty bad for most of the year.

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The reality is that a lot of people wrote Stewart off a little too soon. Rather than give him any credit or acknowledge any potential, they'll just dismiss any positive takes on him and instead cling to the idea that he's done. He provided a good return on his redraft ADP last season and has a chance to do well in 2015. If he can pick up where he left off and stay relatively healthy, he'll be a nice value again.

The reality is that even more people didn't write Stewart off soon enough. Sure, his value increased slightly last year, but that's like being excited after you rode a stock from $100 down to $1 and now it's back up to $5.

Sure, he outperformed his redraft ADP last season overall, but he really didn't help most of his owners. He was pretty bad for most of the year.

This is true. He was gold if you got into the playoffs. He didn't help you get there, though.
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Thus far Johnathan Stewart has only provided significant positive VBD in the second season of his career where he finished as RB 11. The best he has performed over a season besides that was RB 23 last season.

There were only two games late in 2014 where Stewart was a good RB starter. He only had 4 TD spread out over the course of the season.

Here is the return on investment for Stewart's career thus far in VBD each season and the age he was that season:

Age 21 0

Age 22 46

Age 23 0

Age 24 0

Age 25 0

Age 26 0

Age 27 2

Most RB have their most productive seasons during the first six seasons of their career before seeing a drop off in performance each season after that.

Perhaps Stewart has some of his best seasons at the end of his career. There are some RB who have done that. But considering his peak seasons are already behind him, and that he hasn't been able to stay healthy for sustained stretches of his career thus far, that seems unlikely.

Looking at this from both age when the RB entered the league and also by draft position.Stewart is entering his eighth season where the RB in his group see a 50% decline from the level they performed at their first six seasons.

By draft position the decline was 50% as well. By draft position this player group had seven good seasons on average. But those seven seasons have already expired.

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It has always been hard for RBs to get picked in the first round. I don't believe it's significantly harder now than it was in 2008. As always, the specifics on how many players from X position get picked in the first round each year hinge on the quality of the players available. If there are lots of elite RB prospects in the pool, lots of RBs will go in the top 32 picks. The supply hasn't been there in recent years, but that doesn't say anything about past classes.

Do you really intend to assert that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden would be top 5 overall picks in this year's draft?

It's certainly your right to believe that, but I think that is a monstrously minority opinion. If you truly believe that, I'd like to see you say it so we can know where you really stand on the issue.

Being drafted #13 in the same draft where another RB went #4, and over a three year period where 5 RBs were drafted in the top 7 is not a major accomplishment.

That's probably the funniest thing I've read today.

It has never been easy to go that high. Being deemed one of the top 15 football players in your draft class is always a major accomplishment.

I think you're picking on semantics here. Fine, maybe "accomplishment" in a vacuum was the wrong word. But in the context of what we were talking about, him being a truly generational talent for his decade because he was picked *gasp* thirteenth, I think it holds. He was the 16th highest drafted running back of his decade. No, that does not support the idea that he was the mythically great RB prospect you were making him out to be.

cling to the idea

Surely you see the irony here.

He provided a good return on his redraft ADP last season and has a chance to do well in 2015.

And I've already said as much. That's not what this conversation was centered around though, which is that Stewart is currently a generational talent that almost no one could challenge for playing time.

If he can pick up where he left off and stay relatively healthy, he'll be a nice value again.

It's a pretty big leap to make the assumption that Stewart will both pick up where he left off and stay healthy, given that he's been able to do neither to this point in his career. You're not really saying anything anyone doesn't already know here. The risk involved with both of those is built into his cost. If we could say right now with 100% certainty that he would "pick up where he left off" and stay healthy, his cost would be higher.

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Do you really intend to assert that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden would be top 5 overall picks in this year's draft?

It's certainly your right to believe that, but I think that is a monstrously minority opinion. If you truly believe that, I'd like to see you say it so we can know where you really stand on the issue.

In general, I don't think RBs have been devalued in the draft. That doesn't mean every single guy would go in the same slot in every draft. Some drafts are stronger than others. That can push mediocre talents higher than they'd go in a strong draft. Also, it only takes one team out of 32 to fall in love with a player for a big reach to happen. Maybe you can argue that a guy like Benson and McFadden would've slid a little more if not for dumb front offices making bad decisions.

It's revisionist history to throw out those names you mentioned and try to act as if it was easy for a RB to get picked high though. It never has been easy. It's a huge deal for a RB to get picked in the top 20, even if he didn't quite deserve it in hindsight. Even prolific college backs like Deuce McAllister, Shaun Alexander, Steven Jackson, and Larry Johnson slid to the late first despite strong profiles because teams have never really consistently treated RB as a premium position like they do with DL, CB, and QB. This is nothing new and the "devaluation" you've seen in recent years is due to a drought in qualifying talent. Nothing more. When guys show up with the right package of skills, they still get picked that high (i.e. Richardson, Martin, Wilson).

Putting that aside, after that last exchange I went back and checked what you'd been saying about Stewart before last season.

He stopped being a tease several years ago. Even when he's healthy now he looks slow and overweight. I actually mistook him for Mike Tolbert a couple of times tonight.

It seems to me that you made up your mind about Stewart a long time ago and are going to ignore anything that contradicts your opinion. You just said the "ship sailed" on him, but he had a very strong YPC last season and was one of the key reasons why the Panthers made a late charge for the playoffs. I get accused of having blinders about this player, but if you set your emotions on the table and actually read what I've been saying for the past year or two with a clear head then you'll see that it has been a pretty consistent narrative and that it's actually creeping closer to fruition. Stewart has always been productive when healthy and the biggest roadblock towards usable FF production has always been DeAngelo Williams. With Williams gone and Stewart on the heels of his second best NFL season, this is literally the best redraft outlook that he has had in his whole career. If you were holding him hoping for a payoff then you should be ecstatic right now. I don't sweat what the haters are spewing when Stew's trajectory is headed exactly where I'd hoped it would be a year or two ago. They're doubling down on negativity when everything that happened in the last six months has been on the upswing.

I get huge entertainment out of this thread because no matter what Stew does, the haters still crawl out of their holes to tell you not to be excited about him. It's hilarious after last season. If he goes down with an injury next year and/or the Panthers spend a top 50 pick on a RB then you know this thread will explode with hate in a New York minute, but oh my...if he manages to stay healthy and puts up a 1200+ yard season then this thread will be epic.

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It seems to me that you made up your mind about Stewart a long time ago and are going to ignore anything that contradicts your opinion.

:potkettle:

;)

Oh, you're absolutely right. I've always believed that Stewart is a good player who may yet produce a good season (or more).

Here is what I was saying two years ago:

My line of reasoning here is very straightforward.

- Stewart has been a very effective NFL player throughout his career.

- The main thing that has held him back in FF terms is a lack of opportunity.

- With DeAngelo Williams on the wrong end of 30, he will eventually be phased out and Stewart might have an opportunity to be the unquestioned lead back.

- Stewart is currently injured, but there's a realistic chance that he will make a full recovery and play at a high level for several more years.

That's basically the exact scenario that played out over the past six months, yet somehow I'm the guy getting attacked.

Hopefully you see the comedy in this. I'm getting attacked for having an opinion...that turned out to be exactly what happened. It's like I'm saying "the sky is blue" and the Stew haters are saying "no, it's red" and acting like I'm the one who is supposed to be changing his perspective. That's the thing. It only makes sense to change your opinion when there's a reason for doing so. All of the developments in the Stewart saga in the past 6-9 months have been aligning with my view, so if anything I should feel emboldened in my stance.

Meanwhile you have FreeBaGeL clinging to his outdated take when new facts contradict what he was saying back then:

A couple of worries I have with Stewart, as someone that owns him.

I don't think he was quite as good even pre-injury as people thought he was. People go nuts over his production at the time, but ignore that he was on one of those rare monster running teams at the time. He never, at any point in his career, has stood out compared to his peers on his team. It's true that part of that is that DeAngelo Williams is pretty darn good himself, but even in the season where DeAngelo was out injured Mike Goodson pretty much went step for step with Stewart. This isn't, and never has been, a case like we saw in KC where a guy like Charles was totally outproducing his teammates. Still a good, maybe even great player, but I'm not convinced he was ever a top 3 talented back in the league.

Secondly, I don't see that guy anymore anyway. Dr Octopus has touched on it, but he just doesn't look nearly as explosive as he used to. He reminds me of Antonio Gates when he fell off. Physically top heavy and slow to get started. It doesn't seem like his coaches disagree as he's not losing touches to DeAngelo Williams in his prime anymore. He's losing touches to an over the hill DeAngelo Williams that is clearly two steps slower than he used to be and, of course, Mike Tolbert. If he was still some kind of uber special back there's no way he'd be losing touches to Tolbert. And it's not like Tolbert is just in there to pass block or play short yardage. Tolbert spent plenty of time running the ball last night on 1st and 10 from typical rushing formations.

I think it's possible that Stewart is out of shape because he's been staying off his legs, and a full offseason will do him wonders, but that's what we thought at the end of last season. His clock is ticking fast and the situation doesn't look like it's ever going to get better. Even if it does, his upside is a shell of what it once was based both on his own physical limitations compared to the way he used to look as well as the long-term outlook of the situation. At least before we had "DeAngelo is getting older and is a FA soon". However, Cam isn't going anywhere until after Stewart is retired and I'm not sure Tolbert will either.

Here is a guy who has been spouting total negativity for two years saying that Stewart is overrated and probably done and yet when there's clear evidence to contradict this (Stewart's strong performance down the stretch last season), there's literally zero acknowledgement of the positives and zero adjustment. It makes sense to stick to your guns when reality jives with what you're saying, but when things start drifting the other way and you don't adapt then you have to start wondering whether you were initially off the mark. I don't see any of that from the multi-year Stew haters. They're just doubling down on the negativitiy and probably crossing their fingers that he tweaks an ankle in week one so they can pollute this thread with more useless posts.

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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

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In general, I don't think RBs have been devalued in the draft. That doesn't mean every single guy would go in the same slot in every draft. Some drafts are stronger than others. That can push mediocre talents higher than they'd go in a strong draft. Also, it only takes one team out of 32 to fall in love with a player for a big reach to happen. Maybe you can argue that a guy like Benson and McFadden would've slid a little more if not for dumb front offices making bad decisions.

It's revisionist history to throw out those names you mentioned and try to act as if it was easy for a RB to get picked high though. It never has been easy. It's a huge deal for a RB to get picked in the top 20, even if he didn't quite deserve it in hindsight. Even prolific college backs like Deuce McAllister, Shaun Alexander, Steven Jackson, and Larry Johnson slid to the late first despite strong profiles because teams have never really consistently treated RB as a premium position like they do with DL, CB, and QB. This is nothing new and the "devaluation" you've seen in recent years is due to a drought in qualifying talent. Nothing more. When guys show up with the right package of skills, they still get picked that high (i.e. Richardson, Martin, Wilson).

Putting that aside, after that last exchange I went back and checked what you'd been saying about Stewart before last season.

So wouldn't the alleged dearth of current good RB prospects make those guys (Cadillac, Benson, McFadden, etc) even MORE valuable in the current era than they were when they were picked top 5 overall during a period that was allegedly flooded with elite RB prospects? Clearly if they were really that good, they would be picked extremely early in modern drafts where there have been allegedly almost no elite RB prospects to find in years. Yet you're unwilling to commit to them as early picks.

Do you really believe that Cadillac (2nd), Benson (5th), and McFadden (4th) were exponentially better prospects than guys like Martin (31st), Wilson (32nd) and Ingram (28th)? It wasn't just rogue GMs picking them that early either, they were universally mocked/ranked that highly.

It seems to me that you made up your mind about Stewart a long time ago and are going to ignore anything that contradicts your opinion. You just said the "ship sailed" on him, but he had a very strong YPC last season and was one of the key reasons why the Panthers made a late charge for the playoffs. I get accused of having blinders about this player, but if you set your emotions on the table and actually read what I've been saying for the past year or two with a clear head then you'll see that it has been a pretty consistent narrative and that it's actually creeping closer to fruition. Stewart has always been productive when healthy and the biggest roadblock towards usable FF production has always been DeAngelo Williams. With Williams gone and Stewart on the heels of his second best NFL season, this is literally the best redraft outlook that he has had in his whole career. If you were holding him hoping for a payoff then you should be ecstatic right now. I don't sweat what the haters are spewing when Stew's trajectory is headed exactly where I'd hoped it would be a year or two ago. They're doubling down on negativity when everything that happened in the last six months has been on the upswing.

I guess you can believe that if you want. Personally I think the thing that aids me most in FF is my willingness to change my mind on guys or strategies from year to year and not hold grudges, but to each their own.

I wouldn't call myself a "hater" of Stewart. I think he has talent and I've held on to him throughout most of this and still do, even now as a 28 year old who could be a solid RB2 or even low-end RB1. I think he offers decent value this year and will probably end up with him on some of my redraft teams. I've just never felt he had the massive upside that some did and it's really largely that you fall sooooo far on the other end of the spectrum that I often find myself arguing with you about it. Sort of how even a moderate Republican would argue with that congresslady that recently said she felt church attendance should be mandatory.

Even here I've not disagreed with your assertion that he could represent pretty good value this year, but rather your nearly absurd claims about other stuff.

Regardless, you've done a good job of navigating around actually saying that Stewart is the same guy he was as a 23 year old. On the one hand, you've implied as much in multiple occasions (like using a 22-24 year old Stewart as the basis for what an incoming rookie would have to beat to take playing time from him), while in others you've implied the opposite (like falling back to your stance being simply that Stewart could represent "good value" as compared to the arguments you were making for him 5 years ago where you basically thought he could put together the best FF RB season of all-time). So do you want to come out in say it? Do you believe that the current Stewart is as explosive and fast as a 22-24 year old Stewart? If not, what percentage is he? 90%? 70%? Just an estimation.

u not to be excited about him. It's hilarious after last season. If he goes down with an injury next year and/or the Panthers spend a top 50 pick on a RB then you know this thread will explode with hate in a New York minute, but oh my...if he manages to stay healthy and puts up a 1200+ yard season then this thread will be epic.

Well, since most of the people in this thread have owned Stewart throughout most of his career I would wager that most of them would be willing to give up their 6th "I told you so" in trade for a good fantasy season out of him. I do know that a Cedric Benson-esque year or two of decent RB2 production would not make him worth what most of us paid for him, missed out on by not selling him high, and maybe even missed out on with the roster spot we've held him for, yet you will likely act completely vindicated about the whole ten year span regardless.

ETA: Btw, this whole paragraph I quoted is unbelievably hilarious coming from the guy who bumps this thread every time Stewart has a nice run or makes a good beverage choice at lunch.

Edited by FreeBaGeL
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So wouldn't the alleged dearth of current good RB prospects make those guys (Cadillac, Benson, McFadden, etc) even MORE valuable in the current era than they were when they were picked top 5 overall during a period that was allegedly flooded with elite RB prospects? Clearly if they were really that good, they would be picked extremely early in modern drafts where there have been allegedly almost no elite RB prospects to find in years. Yet you're unwilling to commit to them as early picks.

Do you really believe that Cadillac (2nd), Benson (5th), and McFadden (4th) were exponentially better prospects than guys like Martin (31st), Wilson (32nd) and Ingram (28th)? It wasn't just rogue GMs picking them that early either, they were universally mocked/ranked that highly.

You are cherry-picking the examples that fit your narrative. Steven Jackson (24th overall), Willis McGahee (23rd overall), Larry Johnson (27th overall), Deuce McAllister (23rd overall), and Shaun Alexander (19th overall) fell to the second half of the first round before that infamous Ronnie/Benson/Cadillac draft. It has never been easy for a back to go in the first round. The league is pretty gun shy with those picks and usually only invests in a back if he has strong production and solid explosiveness combined with a 215-220+ pound frame or elite speed. Almost all of the prospects in the last few years have come up short in some way or another (Bernard did not run fast enough for a smaller back, Hill/Hyde/Bell/Lacy did not test well in drills, Michael had spotty college production). Hence why they fall. It has nothing to do with devaluation. That narrative is overblown and not worth taking seriously.

Regardless, you've done a good job of navigating around actually saying that Stewart is the same guy he was as a 23 year old. On the one hand, you've implied as much in multiple occasions (like using a 22-24 year old Stewart as the basis for what an incoming rookie would have to beat to take playing time from him), while in others you've implied the opposite (like falling back to your stance being simply that Stewart could represent "good value" as compared to the arguments you were making for him 5 years ago where you basically thought he could put together the best FF RB season of all-time). So do you want to come out in say it? Do you believe that the current Stewart is as explosive and fast as a 22-24 year old Stewart? If not, what percentage is he? 90%? 70%? Just an estimation.

I'm not sure that I need to answer that question because if he's still good enough to run for 4.6+ YPC in the NFL then he has little to fear from college backs. I believe that at his peak he was better than any back in this draft by a significant margin. Is he still at his peak? I don't really know, but I'm not sure if that's the right question. He performed at a level last year that very few players can step in and achieve. Having looked at this rookie class extensively, I'm not terribly worried about some 2nd-4th round pick coming in and blasting him out of the way. The talent gap between him and these players is so huge that he could be less than 100% and yet still be significantly better than them. Sort of like how Steve Smith, Andre Johnson, and Vincent Jackson have nothing to fear from most 2nd-4th round WRs because even at their advanced age they're still better than most of the rooks ever will be by virtue of vastly superior core talent.

Edited by EBF
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Of the many things that make this thread hilarious, and there are many.

One of my favorites is that something like an early 2nd or 1st round draft grade/position can be used to support the ubber talent of C. Michael but not used as any threat whatsoever to ubber talent Stewart.

I wonder what happens if Car drafts some like Abdulah in the 2nd. Will this be used for or against?

Edited by jurb26
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Hence why they fall. It has nothing to do with devaluation. That narrative is overblown and not worth taking seriously.

Tell that to the RBs in the NFL who have seen their % of team payroll decrease systematically year after year for about 5 years to the point now that K/P are making more than them.
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In general, I don't think RBs have been devalued in the draft.

Actually, that isn't true, not that you will ever admit it. Let's review your past comments on two players, Matt Forte and Christine Michael.

Forte was drafted in the 2008 2nd round, #44 overall. You were down on Forte following his rookie year and had this to say in your arguments against owning him in dynasty leagues:

It's a pretty simple argument.

- He didn't have a great rookie year (lots of yards, but low YPC and no big plays)

- He wasn't a high draft pick (wasn't thought to be a special player entering the league)

- He isn't a great athlete (doesn't have elite athletic measurables)

Fast forward to 2013, where Christine Michael is taken in the 2nd round, #62 overall. And you had this to say about Michael:

The case for Michael is pretty straightforward:

- Solid college production when healthy.

- Freaky athletic qualities.

- High draft slot.

- Impressive training camp and preseason.

So both RBs are taken in the same round, five years apart. Forte is downgraded because "He wasn't a high draft pick". However Michael, taken 18 picks later is considered a "High Draft slot". A devaluation of the RB position over that period of time is only way one can reconcile these two contradictory positions. If being taken #44 is not a high draft pick, then being taken #62 can't be considered one either, unless the valuation of the RB position fell during that time.

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So both RBs are taken in the same round, five years apart. Forte is downgraded because "He wasn't a high draft pick". However Michael, taken 18 picks later is considered a "High Draft slot". A devaluation of the RB position over that period of time is only way one can reconcile these two contradictory positions.

There's also the fact that people can learn and change their opinions over a five-six year span.

It's hard to get drafted at all and I would say that any pick in the top 100 is a "high" pick, but there's differentiation within that cluster. First round picks historically have almost twice the success rate of 2nd-3rd round picks. So while I'd still say the 2nd round is a "high pick" it's not as meaningful as going in the first. I think it takes a special package of qualities to go in the first round. I don't think the criteria have changed at all in the past 3-4 years. I simply think we've had a drought of qualifying prospects.

If Gurley/Gordon go in the first this year and Elliott/Henry next year and Chubb/Fournette in 2017 then I wonder if people will still be selling that narrative. I doubt it. Personally, I think they're mistaking variance with meaningful signs of long-term change. Almost akin to saying "the odds of a pair being dealt have dropped" in a poker game because nobody is dealt a pair after the first 4-5 hands. It's taking something that's easily explained by random statistical variance and creating a narrative to explain it, when in reality there's nothing behind it but pure chance.

In a similar vein, I wouldn't say the NFL suddenly "put a premium on RBs" in 2008 just because five went in the first round. It was an abnormally good crop with an unusually high number of qualifying prospects. It had no predictive value for future classes.

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It's a pretty simple argument.

- He didn't have a great rookie year (lots of yards, but low YPC and no big plays)

- He wasn't a high draft pick (wasn't thought to be a special player entering the league)

- He isn't a great athlete (doesn't have elite athletic measurables)

No wonder you don't like Sankey. Like Forte I think he'll be as good as the OL and OC allow him to be.

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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

Considering that the exception was against the #2 rushing defense in the league (twice, where he averaged 4.9 and 5.4), this doesn't seem to say a whole lot imo. Its a bit of a stretch to try to knock down a 4.6 YPC for the season.

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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

That 26th ranked defense (Cardinals) he faced in the playoffs was 5th in points allowed and held Murray to 19 for 79 and Lynch to 15 for 39.

He also was 13 for 70 against the #2 run defense (Seahawks) in the playoffs.

The only questions about him for me is:

- can he stay healthy

- will they draft someone high to split carries so he can stay healthy

Stewart is still one of the most talented RB's in the league, but health is a real concern.

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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

Considering that the exception was against the #2 rushing defense in the league (twice, where he averaged 4.9 and 5.4), this doesn't seem to say a whole lot imo. Its a bit of a stretch to try to knock down a 4.6 YPC for the season.

You're more interested in the 2 games out of 9 vs the 7 out of 9? Or his 3.5 ypc in all 9 against teams in the top 20? Edited by tdmills
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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

That 26th ranked defense (Cardinals) he faced in the playoffs was 5th in points allowed and held Lynch to 15 for 39.

Points allowed means nothing in regards to run defense. Arizona in fact was 24th in total yards allowed...they were opportunistic, not a good run defense.

How convenient of you to only discuss Lynch's game vs Arizona on November 23rd. Lynch also played the Cardinals on December 21st, he ran 10 times for 113 yards with 2 TDs. Combining both games Lynch averaged 6.08 YPC vs Arizona.

This is ridiculous cherry picking.

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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

Stats like this are probably true for most RBs though - beat up on poor run defenses and grind it out against good/great run defenses.

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Hence why they fall. It has nothing to do with devaluation. That narrative is overblown and not worth taking seriously.

Tell that to the RBs in the NFL who have seen their % of team payroll decrease systematically year after year for about 5 years to the point now that K/P are making more than them.

I think there's some truth to both sides. I do think the "devaluation" is somewhat overblown and has become a narrative that people just keep repeating over and over, but on the other hand teams are starting to realize that RBs do have a short lifespan and the violence associated with the position makes it a bad investment once they hit the market. I do think that what EBF says about the draft is accurate though. If a RB prospect warrants a first round grade, they will go in the first round. I think we could/should see 2 (with an outside chance of 3) RBs going in the first this year.

As far as contracts, it's a bad situation for a RB because by the time that they can escape from their rookie contracts they are at the age (about 27) where the inevitable decline is coming soon enough and teams need to be concerned about long term big money contracts. No other position really faces such a steep decline in production at age 29-31 than RB.

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Hence why they fall. It has nothing to do with devaluation. That narrative is overblown and not worth taking seriously.

Tell that to the RBs in the NFL who have seen their % of team payroll decrease systematically year after year for about 5 years to the point now that K/P are making more than them.

I think there's some truth to both sides. I do think the "devaluation" is somewhat overblown and has become a narrative that people just keep repeating over and over, but on the other hand teams are starting to realize that RBs do have a short lifespan and the violence associated with the position makes it a bad investment once they hit the market. I do think that what EBF says about the draft is accurate though. If a RB prospect warrants a first round grade, they will go in the first round. I think we could/should see 2 (with an outside chance of 3) RBs going in the first this year.

As far as contracts, it's a bad situation for a RB because by the time that they can escape from their rookie contracts they are at the age (about 27) where the inevitable decline is coming soon enough and teams need to be concerned about long term big money contracts. No other position really faces such a steep decline in production at age 29-31 than RB.

The Cowboys just offered the NFL rushing leader $5 million/year. Sure, he's 27 and a couple years away from a decline, but that's roughly $2 million less than Andre Johnson, who is 33 and has ALREADY declined, got.

He ended up getting $8 million/year, or roughly $1 million more than an over the hill WR with even fewer years left. Also roughly the same amount as Torrey Smith and Charles Clay.

Mark Ingram, at age 25, pulled in $4 million/year. Or, to look at it another way, slightly less than Lance Kendricks got. Lance...freaking...Kendricks. That's not even to mention about to turn 29 years old Eddie Royal who pulled in $5 million/year. Eddie Royal, with probably the same number of years left in his career as Ingram. Eddie....Royal.

And again, that's ignoring the draft prospects. There's no way that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden were exponentially stronger prospects than Doug Martin, David Wilson, Melvin Gordon, etc. If anything those guys probably all fall into the same tier as prospects. 6+ years ago that meant a top 5 pick. Nowadays that means a late 1st rounder.

I agree that the idea that teams think they can just put literally anyone back there and don't even care who their RB is going to be is overblown. But we're a long ways off from where we used to be where RB was considered a very, very important position that guys would trade their entire draft for. There is still a long ways between where it used to be and where it is now.

Edited by FreeBaGeL
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What's quite interesting about Stewart 2014 campaign is the defenses he faced according to YPC rush defense.

-Stewart had three 100 yard rushing games vs 26th, 28th, 31st best rush defenses.

-He had faced the top 20 NFL rush defense 9 times in 2014, he had 3.8 ypc or below every time but two. Both against Seattle, one during the regular season and one in the playoffs.

-Stewart's YPC in those 9 games(including Seattle twice) is 3.52.

That 26th ranked defense (Cardinals) he faced in the playoffs was 5th in points allowed and held Lynch to 15 for 39.

Points allowed means nothing in regards to run defense. Arizona in fact was 24th in total yards allowed...they were opportunistic, not a good run defense.

How convenient of you to only discuss Lynch's game vs Arizona on November 23rd. Lynch also played the Cardinals on December 21st, he ran 10 times for 113 yards with 2 TDs. Combining both games Lynch averaged 6.08 YPC vs Arizona.

This is ridiculous cherry picking.

How does that say anything negative about Stewart? He had 24/123/1 (5.13 YPC) against the Cardinals - in the playoffs even.

I just traded him only because his health concerns but there's no way anyone watched him from week 6 on and didn't see his talent jump off the screen.

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And again, that's ignoring the draft prospects. There's no way that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden were exponentially stronger prospects than Doug Martin, David Wilson, Melvin Gordon, etc. If anything those guys probably all fall into the same tier as prospects. 6+ years ago that meant a top 5 pick. Nowadays that means a late 1st rounder.

I agree that the idea that teams think they can just put literally anyone back there and don't even care who their RB is going to be is overblown. But we're a long ways off from where we used to be where RB was considered a very, very important position that guys would trade their entire draft for. There is still a long ways between where it used to be and where it is now.

If not for that flukey Brown/Benson/Caddy class then you wouldn't have much of an argument about the league using premium picks on undeserving backs. Most of the guys who have gone top 10 before and after that draft were almost universally considered awesome prospects (Ricky, Edge, LT, Bush, ADP, McFadden, Richardson, etc). That's not to mention all the great prospects who fell to the late 1st (I already named many of them -- Alexander, L Johnson, McAllister, S Jackson). When you go back 15-20 years (even before this alleged "devaluing" happened), you'll see that the standard of a first round back has always been pretty high. This is not a new thing. It's just more apparent when the pool is thin on elite RB prospects.

By and large, the "RB is devalued in the draft" argument is championed by people who don't have a deep knowledge of draft history and metrics, and also have a seemingly poor understanding of how random variance can influence small sample sizes to create the illusion of meaningful trends. The latter idea is key. One single draft class is just one data point and thus not likely to be representative of broad data sets and trends. It's kind of like a poker hand. You can't play 3-4 hands of poker and then use your holdings to make bold claims that the odds of pulling particular cards have changed based on what you held. In other words, just because you might not get an ace in those 3-4 hands doesn't mean aces are statistically less likely to occur. Likewise, you could have pocket aces on the next hand and it doesn't mean aces are suddenly more common.

The same idea applies here. Recent draft classes have not given us a lot of RB prospects with clean athletic and NCAA production profiles (aces). Rather than accepting the most probable explanation (that fewer RBs have been picked in the first round because there have been fewer RBs who meet the first round standard), people are looking at this tiny data set and drawing dubious conclusions ("I haven't gotten an ace in the last four hands, therefore it's harder to get an ace that it used to be"). As I said earlier, I suspect a lot of this chatter will die out in the coming years if we see guys like Gurley/Gordon, Elliott/Henry, and Chubb/Fournette break the trend.

Edited by EBF
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It's completely disingenuous to act as though the devalue of RBs is only about the draft. The draft is simply 1 aspect of several that have lead many to see that that NFL is not valuing RBs the same today as they did before. This has been pointed, and ignored, many times before. No point stating it all again.

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And again, that's ignoring the draft prospects. There's no way that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden were exponentially stronger prospects than Doug Martin, David Wilson, Melvin Gordon, etc. If anything those guys probably all fall into the same tier as prospects. 6+ years ago that meant a top 5 pick. Nowadays that means a late 1st rounder.

I agree that the idea that teams think they can just put literally anyone back there and don't even care who their RB is going to be is overblown. But we're a long ways off from where we used to be where RB was considered a very, very important position that guys would trade their entire draft for. There is still a long ways between where it used to be and where it is now.

By and large, the "RB is devalued in the draft" argument is championed by people who don't have a deep knowledge of draft history and metrics, and also have a seemingly poor understanding of how random variance can influence small sample sizes to create the illusion of meaningful trends.

Well, at least no one can ever accuse you of being smug and condescending.

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And again, that's ignoring the draft prospects. There's no way that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden were exponentially stronger prospects than Doug Martin, David Wilson, Melvin Gordon, etc. If anything those guys probably all fall into the same tier as prospects. 6+ years ago that meant a top 5 pick. Nowadays that means a late 1st rounder.

I agree that the idea that teams think they can just put literally anyone back there and don't even care who their RB is going to be is overblown. But we're a long ways off from where we used to be where RB was considered a very, very important position that guys would trade their entire draft for. There is still a long ways between where it used to be and where it is now.

If not for that flukey Brown/Benson/Caddy class then you wouldn't have much of an argument about the league using premium picks on undeserving backs. Most of the guys who have gone top 10 before and after that draft were almost universally considered awesome prospects (Ricky, Edge, LT, Bush, ADP, McFadden, Richardson, etc). That's not to mention all the great prospects who fell to the late 1st (I already named many of them -- Alexander, L Johnson, McAllister, S Jackson). When you go back 15-20 years (even before this alleged "devaluing" happened), you'll see that the standard of a first round back has always been pretty high. This is not a new thing. It's just more apparent when the pool is thin on elite RB prospects.

By and large, the "RB is devalued in the draft" argument is championed by people who don't have a deep knowledge of draft history and metrics, and also have a seemingly poor understanding of how random variance can influence small sample sizes to create the illusion of meaningful trends. The latter idea is key. One single draft class is just one data point and thus not likely to be representative of broad data sets and trends. It's kind of like a poker hand. You can't play 3-4 hands of poker and then use your holdings to make bold claims that the odds of pulling particular cards have changed based on what you held. In other words, just because you might not get an ace in those 3-4 hands doesn't mean aces are statistically less likely to occur. Likewise, you could have pocket aces on the next hand and it doesn't mean aces are suddenly more common.

The same idea applies here. Recent draft classes have not given us a lot of RB prospects with clean athletic and NCAA production profiles (aces). Rather than accepting the most probable explanation (that fewer RBs have been picked in the first round because there have been fewer RBs who meet the first round standard), people are looking at this tiny data set and drawing dubious conclusions ("I haven't gotten an ace in the last four hands, therefore it's harder to get an ace that it used to be"). As I said earlier, I suspect a lot of this chatter will die out in the coming years if we see guys like Gurley/Gordon, Elliott/Henry, and Chubb/Fournette break the trend.

Draft value spent on RBs has been falling pretty steadily for the past 30 years. The bottom 5 years since 1970 (with the least amount of draft value spent on RBs in the first 3 rounds) are 2003, 2013, 2014, 1992, and 2009. The past 6 years are all in the bottom 11.

Here is a picture.

(I'm using the formula here for draft value, and adding up the draft value of all RBs drafted in the first 3 rounds.)

Edited by ZWK
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Draft value spent on RBs has been falling pretty steadily for the past 30 years. The bottom 5 years since 1970 (with the least amount of draft value spent on RBs in the first 3 rounds) are 2003, 2013, 2014, 1992, and 2009. The past 6 years are all in the bottom 11.

Here is a picture.

(I'm using the formula here for draft value, and adding up the draft value of all RBs drafted in the first 3 rounds.)

Well, that's surprising. It's a lot steeper than I thought it would be. All the same, it doesn't do much to say that a guy drafted 13th overall seven years ago has a lot to fear from this rookie class, which is where the whole discussion stems from. Even if you factor in a "RB devaluation" modifier to Stew's 13th overall slot based on the slope and the # of years passed, what would it equate to in "current value"? Something like 18-22nd overall? So a guy who was the equivalent of a top 25 pick in today's draft and has already proven effective in the NFL should be afraid of 8-9 rookies this year? Yeah.... :rolleyes:

There might be one or two backs in the whole draft who go that high this year, if that. So if there are maybe 1-2 prospects of Stew's caliber in this draft and there are 32 possible destinations for those players on draft day then I don't see the draft as a big hurdle for Stewart owners. There is a slim chance that the Panthers draft a player like Gurley/Gordon (6% based on random chance) or that they find a diamond in the 2nd-4th rounds. Of course, there's also a significant chance that whoever they draft doesn't live up to the hype and/or isn't ready to play as a rookie.

Add it all up and I don't think there's a strong argument that he has a lot to fear from the draft. Not much more than any other veteran starter, although there's an argument that Carolina is more likely to draft a back high than say...KC, Seattle, or Buffalo.

The Stew haters are going to contend that "sure, the 2008 version of Stewart was a better prospect than most of the backs in this draft" and that he isn't the same player, but as discussed there isn't much in last year's stats to corroborate that viewpoint. So, like I said before, I think a lot of what you see in this discussion is people who have been slanting negative on Stew for 2-3 years looking to confirm their viewpoints. Look at the names putting negative spin in the last few pages and it's all the same guys who were saying this stuff 1-2 years ago. I've yet to hear one of those people say, "You know what, he was pretty good last year and he might have another good year in 2015." Nope. Just a lot of parrots repeating the most negative slants on everything (i.e. "he wasn't that good of a prospect"/"he'll get hurt"/"they'll draft somebody"/"he was only good because he split carries"/"dominant OL"/etc/etc).

Edited by EBF
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Draft value spent on RBs has been falling pretty steadily for the past 30 years. The bottom 5 years since 1970 (with the least amount of draft value spent on RBs in the first 3 rounds) are 2003, 2013, 2014, 1992, and 2009. The past 6 years are all in the bottom 11.

Here is a picture.

(I'm using the formula here for draft value, and adding up the draft value of all RBs drafted in the first 3 rounds.)

Well, that's surprising. It's a lot steeper than I thought it would be.

I thought you had "a deep knowledge of draft history and metrics"?

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Just drafted Stewart spin the 15th round of redraft league. Dudes value is in the toilet. I'll roll the dice at that price.

Looking back, I think I actually did pretty accurately grab Stew at his "buy low". It just happened to be 5 years after EBF starting pimping it.

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I thought you had "a deep knowledge of draft history and metrics"?

I've compiled a lot of data, but most of it comes from the past 10 years. I don't have a clue what teams were doing in the 70s-early 90s.

Looking at more recent years, there's a pretty clear pattern in the kind of backs that the league uses premium picks on.

A lot more on that here in this post from last year:

I have a whole spreadsheet with workout numbers for all the first round RBs since the Steven Jackson/Chris Perry/Kevin Jones class.

If you're interested in some of the results, I made this post a while back:

This would be more meaningful to me if the arbitrary cut off for big vs. small wasn't 210, when two of the upper tier prospects were measured at 207 and 209. So if Sankey was one pound heavier, he'd be a lock for the 1st round? He would certainly meet all the of the other criteria you mentioned.

Here is the list of players by BMI along with their 40 times:

NAME BMI 40 Jonathan Stewart 33.5 4.46 Trent Richardson 33.5 4.48 Doug Martin 32.7 4.46 Rashard Mendenhall 32.2 4.41 Mark Ingram 31.7 4.62 DeAngelo Williams 31.6 4.45 Ronnie Brown 31.4 4.43 Cedric Benson 31.4 4.62 Beanie Wells 30.9 4.52 Kevin Jones 30.8 X Knowshon Moreno 30.7 4.5 Cadillac Williams 30.5 4.43 Steven Jackson 30.1 4.55 Chris Perry 30 4.56 Donald Brown 30 4.46 Ryan Mathews 30 4.37 David Wilson 30 4.38 Marshawn Lynch 29.9 4.46 Laurence Maroney 29.7 4.48 Joseph Addai 29.7 4.4 Felix Jones 29.6 4.44 Jahvid Best 28.5 4.34 Reggie Bush 28.3 4.37 Adrian Peterson 28.3 4.4 Darren McFadden 27.7 4.33 CJ Spiller 27.7 4.27 Chris Johnson 27.5 4.24

The average BMI is 30.3. Once you start to get around ~1.5 points off that mark, I think you start to get into the territory of "big" and "small" backs. It is a little bit arbitrary, but there is a pretty large gap between that bottom cluster and the rest of the group. It's also very interesting that all six of the 28.5 or lower BMI backs ran at least a 4.40 in the 40. It demonstrates how critical it is to be blazing fast if you're a RB with a lean frame.

If you sort by weight, you get something like this:

Joseph Addai 29.7 214 4.4 Darren McFadden 27.7 211 4.33 Donald Brown 30 210 4.46 Felix Jones 29.6 207 4.44 David Wilson 30 206 4.38 Reggie Bush 28.3 201 4.37 Jahvid Best 28.5 199 4.34 Chris Johnson 27.5 197 4.24 CJ Spiller 27.7 196 4.27

The same general pattern holds true. Ignoring BMI, it's accurate to just look at weight and conclude that lighter backs have to be faster to be drafted high.

You can argue about the specifics all you want, but the general pattern is obvious. Any RB lower on the weight/BMI scale will generally have to run a blazing 40 time to get picked in the 1st round. Look at the 40 times for guys like Gio Bernard (4.50), Tre Mason (4.50), Lache Seastrunk (4.51), and Bishop Sankey (4.49). Those guys all weigh between 200-209 pounds and none of them has even above average measured track speed. The combination of the low overall weight and the lack of 40 speed probably explains why you didn't/won't see those guys come off the board in the first 32 picks.

It's a very similar story for the big backs. Even if they're heavy, they still have to test well. Of the 27 first round RBs, only 6 ran 4.50 or slower (Beanie, SJax, Benson, Perry, Moreno, Ingram). Of that group, only two ran 4.60 or slower (Benson and Ingram). That's a bad sign for Eddie Lacy (4.64), Carlos Hyde (4.66), and Jeremy Hill (4.66). LeVeon Bell ran 4.56 in the 40 (slower than everyone besides Chris Perry, Mark Ingram, and Cedric Benson). He also did very poorly in the jumps with a 31.5" vertical and 9'10" broad jump. Both well off the average marks.

teams won't pay up for a starting RB unless he's viewed as a supreme talent.

That is the key idea. It's not enough to be serviceable to get picked this high. A RB prospect generally needs to be either insanely explosive (i.e. Spiller, McFadden, Bush) or be big with solid explosiveness for that size (i.e. Stewart, Martin, Mathews).

None of the highly-touted RB prospects from the 2013 class or 2014 class fit that mold, which has nothing to do with the league's valuation of RBs and everything to do with the player pool. You can't say that the NBA doesn't value franchise centers when all the centers in the draft are 6'9". That's essentially what's been going on the past two years. The argument that the league has moved away from coveting franchise backs would be a lot more compelling if there were somebody with awesome measurables, versatility and production who still somehow slipped out of the first round. I haven't seen that.

What we're seeing is probably just a temporary down cycle in the quality of the backs coming out of college. It doesn't help that a guy like Lattimore blew up his knee twice while a guy like Dyer who has freaky mass/speed/explosiveness went off the rails. If those things don't happen, maybe we're talking about how this 2014 class is a huge disappointment relative to the two first round RBs we had last year.

Some CliffsNotes details that stuck out to me:

- The average first round RB is 217 pounds with a 30.3 BMI, a 4.44 40, a 35.8" vertical, and a 10'2" broad jump.

- Only 8 of 27 backs were below 214 pounds. Of those 8 backs, all 8 ran below 4.50 in the 40.

- Only 6 of 27 backs were below 210 pounds. Of those 6 backs, 5 ran 4.3X or better in the 40. The only one who didn't was Felix Jones (who btw was a bust).

- 21 of 27 had a BMI of 29.6 or higher. All 6 below that threshold ran at least a 4.40 in the 40.

There is an inverse correlation between body thickness and 40 time, which is why almost all of the fastest times came from the lightest/thinnest backs (i.e. Jahvid Best, Chris Johnson, CJ Spiller, Reggie Bush). Ryan Mathews is the only back with a 30+ BMI to also run a 4.3X or faster in the 40. McFadden and Mathews were the only 210+ pound backs to run 4.3X or better and McFadden is near the very bottom of the BMI scale (he has a decent weight, but only because he's tall).

If you want to look at this stuff more, let's go back to the averages for a second...

217 pounds with a 30.3 BMI, a 4.44 40, a 35.8" vertical, and a 10'2" broad jump.

It's not quite accurate to view these as cutoffs since a really fast/explosive back can get away with being lighter than 217/30.3 and a really heavy/thick back can get away with being slower/less explosive than 4.44/35.8"/10'2". In fact, MOST first round RBs won't hit the mark in every drill. But in general, these are good ballpark figures for what a first round RB needs to look like physically. Now consider this year's RB class, as ranked by Draft Scout:

Tre Mason - 207 pounds, 31.1 BMI, 4.50 40, 38.5" vertical, 10'6" broad jump.

Carlos Hyde - 230 pounds, 31.5 BMI, 4.66 40, 34.5" vertical, 9'6" broad jump

Bishop Sankey - 209 pounds, 30.5 BMI, 4.49 40, 35.5" vertical, 10'6" broad jump

Jeremy Hill - 233 pounds, 31.2 BMI, 4.66 40, 29" vertical, 9'5" broad jump

KaDeem Carey - 207 pounds, 30.3 BMI, 4.70 40, 32.5" vertical, 9'7" broad jump

Andre Williams - 230 pounds, 31.8 BMI, 4.56 40, 38" vertical, 10'9" broad jump

Terrance West - 225 pounds, 33.0 BMI, 4.54 40, 33.5" vertical, 10'0" broad jump

Lache Seastrunk - 201 pounds, 29.3 BMI, 4.51 40, 41.5" vertical, 11'2" broad jump

The fact that none of these guys has a totally clean profile shouldn't be very alarming, as it's almost impossible to find a RB who wouldn't have at least one red mark here. Peterson would get dinged for his BMI. Chris Johnson for his BMI and weight. Steven Jackson for any number of things. Of the guys on my list, only Jonathan Stewart and Marshawn Lynch clear the bar in every category. Mathews and Martin are extremely close. The fact that none of these rookies met that standard isn't really that damning on its own.

However, there are some interesting things in these rookie results. First off, if you look at all of the guys who are red-flagged for low weight, every single one of them is also red-flagged for a slow 40 time. In other words, the light backs in this draft are also not very fast. So there's no CJ Spiller or Reggie Bush this year.

Hyde and Hill pass the weight/BMI barriers easily, but they're off the mark in the speed/explosiveness. That's to be expected to a certain extent, as thicker/heavier backs tend to run a little slower and jump a little worse. It's not the fact that they missed the averages that's alarming. It's the fact that they missed by such a huge margin. Their 4.66 40 times aren't even remotely close to the 4.46 average. Hyde has a moderately decent vertical and putrid broad jump. Hill was just awful in the jumps. Far, far off the standard of guys like Doug Martin, Steven Jackson, and Ryan Mathews.

Carey's profile is just an absolute mess, as he's at or below average in every category. Usually by a huge margin.

If you believe that Seastrunk's pro day time is more accurate than his combine time, he starts to look like he has a shout at being a Jahvid Best/Reggie Bush/CJ Spiller/David Wilson type who compensates for small size with dynamic workout measurables. Therein lies the problem though. He ran a 4.51 at the neutral environment of the combine. Hardly a 1st round time for a 201 pound back.

Terrance West is intriguing because of his respectable 40/broad/vertical at a high weight and BMI, but all the same he's below par in all of those drills. Add in the small school factor and he's certainly not a first round back.

Oddly enough, Andre Williams comes out with the cleanest profile. On paper, he has many of the physical qualities of a first round back. He's big. He's explosive. He's reasonably fast for his height. I think he's a prime candidate to be picked higher than projected, but ultimately he's probably not quite special enough. Especially when you factor in subjective analysis and his total lack of elusiveness/receiving ability.

That's a really long-winded post, but I'm just trying to illustrate why I don't buy the "RBs are devalued narrative."

If Hyde had blown up the combine with a 4.45 40, a 38" vertical, and a 10'5" broad jump at his same height/weight, he'd likely be right in the first round mix.

It takes the right combination of physical traits and nobody out there seems like a strong candidate this year.

If you just want the Cliffs Notes version, it's basically:

- The NFL only uses first round picks on productive college backs who have good size and solid tangible explosiveness (think Martin, Lynch, Mathews, Stewart) or below average size and blistering speed (think Best, Spiller, Bush, C Johnson, McFadden).

There has been a curious lack of qualifying players in recent years. The big guys have not tested well at the combine/pro day (Lacy, Bell, Hill, Hyde -- all very poor testers). The little guys have not run fast enough (Bernard). We don't have numbers on Gurley because of his knee, but I suspect that he would've qualified if healthy. Gordon is a bit atypical, but close enough that his college production could push him over the edge.

Looking ahead, I see Chubb as a certainty for the first round and Elliott as a real possibility. Others like Henry and Fournette might have a chance. After a few very dry years, I think you'll see a bit of a spike in the # of backs drafted in the top 32. Not because of league trends, but simply because of improvements in the prospect pool.

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And again, that's ignoring the draft prospects. There's no way that guys like Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson, and Darren McFadden were exponentially stronger prospects than Doug Martin, David Wilson, Melvin Gordon, etc. If anything those guys probably all fall into the same tier as prospects. 6+ years ago that meant a top 5 pick. Nowadays that means a late 1st rounder.

I agree that the idea that teams think they can just put literally anyone back there and don't even care who their RB is going to be is overblown. But we're a long ways off from where we used to be where RB was considered a very, very important position that guys would trade their entire draft for. There is still a long ways between where it used to be and where it is now.

By and large, the "RB is devalued in the draft" argument is championed by people who don't have a deep knowledge of draft history and metrics, and also have a seemingly poor understanding of how random variance can influence small sample sizes to create the illusion of meaningful trends.
Well, at least no one can ever accuse you of being smug and condescending.

No kidding. It would be bad enough if he was actually correct, but his lack of self awareness is amazing.

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  • 2 months later...

Stewart had 486 yards (5.3 Y/C average) in the last five games of 2014, after Williams was hurt (from the above article).

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  • 2 months later...

Kelvin Benjamin's injury puts focus on run game:

http://www.nfl.com/fantasyfootball/story/0ap3000000512973/article/kelvin-benjamins-injury-puts-focus-on-run-game

Excerpt:

Speaking of doing work on the ground, there is going to be a bigger workload placed on Jonathan Stewart's shoulders this season. The veteran running back finally has the backfield all to himself after the departure of DeAngelo Williams this offseason. There are certainly questions about a player who has only topped 200 carries once in his seven-year career, but we are going to find out whether Stewart is able to carry the load as a workhorse rusher. He had nice potential as an RB2 in the fourth round, but with more emphasis likely place on the Panthers running game, Stewart will start coming off the board a little sooner in drafts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like the Panther's run game playoff schedule this year. If Stewart stays upright, he will be solid. That being said, I'm more invested in Cameron Artis-Payne.

They technically have the softest run schedule this year. I like JStew this year assuming his productivity carries over from the back halfd of last year. His yards after contact was tops in the league (top 3).

I'm usually very handcuff averse but this year if you take JStew you absolutely need to cuff Artis-Payne to him. If your league mates are savvy you may have to reach for Artis-Payne as well.

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