Jump to content
Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums

RB Prospect Elusiveness Rankings


ZWK

Recommended Posts

If you could only look at statistic to summarize a RB prospect's college performance in order to predict his NFL success, what would it be?

I would want to see his yards after contact (capped). Being hard to tackle - able to beat defenders and pick up extra yards after a defender has a chance to bring him down - is one of the most important abilities for a RB to have, and I suspect that it carries over pretty well from college to the NFL (at least for RBs who have the size & athleticism to play in the NFL). Many college RB stats (like yards per carry) are heavily influenced by contextual factors like scheme, blocking, and the quality of the defense, but Capped YAC seems likely to depend more on the RB and less on the context. Give me that (along with a RB's size and workout numbers) and I think I could make pretty good predictions of who will succeed in the NFL.

Unfortunately, yards after contact are not tracked as a standard statistic.

But this offseason, while I've been watching RB game videos, I have been tracking yards after contact and missed tackles. I have used my video watching plus counting, plus a little bit of number crunching, to make a Hard To Tackle Rating estimating RB prospects' elusiveness.

This post contains my method, my elusiveness rankings for 20 RB prospects, and a comparison with Greg Peshek's elusiveness numbers. If you just want to see my numbers, they're in this spreadsheet.

My Method

I've been watching cutup videos (showing every carry & reception for a full game) with a pen in hand, writing down three things for every play:

Missed tackles. If a defender has a chance to tackle the RB and the RB gets by him (in a way that lets him keep going) that counts as a missed tackle. I count missed tackles each play (using my judgment and attempting to apply a consistent standard on borderline plays), and I use missed tackles per touch as one of my main elusiveness metrics (average missed tackle rate is about 30%).

Yards after tackling opportunity. I note where the RB is when a defender first has a chance at him, and where the ball ends up being spotted at the end of the play - the difference is the RB's yards after tackling opportunity for that play. I call this "Yards After Contact" since that's a simpler & more standard name, even though in some cases the RB gets by the defender untouched. My second main elusiveness stat is capped yards after contact (with a minimum of zero yards and a maximum of ten yards).

Space vs. traffic. A play gets marked down as happening in "space" if the RB's first encounter with a defender who had a chance at him happened in space, meaning that there was just one defender & the RB had some room to maneuver. Otherwise (if there were multiple defenders with a chance to make the play, or there was limited room to maneuver because of other bodies in the area) I mark it down as being in traffic. About 57% of the plays I've tracked were in traffic, 43% in space. I calculate missed tackle rate and capped yards after contact separately for traffic plays and for space plays, since it is much easier for a RB to break tackles & pick up YAC in space than in traffic.

Skipped plays. If the RB doesn't have a real chance to pick up YAC, and the play has a below average result in terms of YAC / missed tackles, then I leave that play out of my calculations. Unless they involve 3+ yards after contact, I typically skip touchdowns (not the RB's fault if he finds the endzone before he has a chance to break a tackle), plays that begin inside the opponent's 5 yard line (which are almost guaranteed to look bad in terms of YAC), and receptions where the RB is going to the ground as he catches it (it's not a lack of elusiveness that prevents YAC after a diving catch).

My Stats

Missed Tackle Rate
Missed tackles divided by total touches

Capped YAC, aka YATOCAT (Yards After Tackling Opportunity Capped At Ten)
Average yards after contact, with a floor for each play of 0 yards and a ceiling for each play of 10 yards

3+ Extra Rate
On plays without a missed tackle, percent of plays where the RB had 3+ yards after contact

Space Missed Tackle Rate
Missed tackles on plays in space divided by number of plays in space

Space Capped YAC
Average yards after contact on plays in space, with a floor for each play of 0 yards and a ceiling for each play of 15 yards

Traffic Missed Tackle Rate
Missed tackles on plays in traffic divided by number of plays in traffic

Traffic Capped YAC
Average yards after contact on plays in traffic, with a floor for each play of 0 yards and a ceiling for each play of 8 yards

Traffic 3+ Extra Rate
Percent of plays in traffic where the RB had 3+ yards after contact (included plays with a missed tackle)

Hard To Tackle Rating
A weighted sum of the other eight stats (with a small strength of schedule adjustment), which has an average a bit over 6. It is roughly 50% yards after contact, 30% missed tackles, and 20% 3+ Rate (and also about 1/3 traffic, 1/3 space, 1/3 all plays mixed together).

RB Rankings
There are 20 RBs who I have charted for at least 3 games & 50 touches. Their detailed stats are in this spreadsheet, and their overall Hard To Tackle Rating is below:

8.45 Dri Archer
7.53 Tim Flanders
7.33 Carlos Hyde
7.20 Jeremy Hill
7.13 Devonta Freeman
6.98 James Wilder
6.90 Lache Seastrunk
6.84 Antonio Andrews
6.68 Charles Sims
6.65 Isaiah Crowell
6.49 Ka'Deem Carey
6.35 Jerick McKinnon
6.29 Andre Williams
6.22 Tre Mason
6.06 Bishop Sankey
6.00 Silas Redd
5.57 James White
5.36 Marion Grice
5.24 Damien Williams
4.61 Terrance West

Comparison with Greg Peshek's Metrics

Greg Peshek also tracks elusiveness metrics for college RBs. There are a few differences in our methods, but they produce similar results. For the 9 RBs who are in my list of 20 and in his list of 10 RBs charted, the correlation between my Hard To Tackle Rating and his Extra Yardage score is r=0.52. For the 12 RBs who we have both done some charting for (those 9 plus Storm Johnson, Antonio Andrews, and Marion Grice), the correlation between my Hard To Tackle Rating and an equally weighted standardized sum of Peshek's Btk% and YacCap is r=0.68. Some of the most notable differences in our methods:

  • We have different definitions of missed tackles & yards after contact. The biggest explicit difference here is in how we define a missed tackle - he has a much narrower definition and only counts about 1/4 as many broken tackles as I do. And on all of the plays that require judgment calls, he is using his judgment and I am using my judgment.
  • Peshek charts every play of every game in 2013 (for his 10 RBs); I only chart a few games for each RB and I include some games from previous years if that's what's available on YouTube.
  • I distinguish between plays in space & plays in traffic, calculate elusiveness stats separately for the two types of plays, and then combine the numbers. Peshek just averages together all plays.
  • We use different formula for calculating the overall elusiveness metric. I use a weighted sum of 8 stats, adjusted for strength of schedule. I'm not sure how he calculates his Extra Yardage score, but it's some kind of combination of Capped Yards After Contact and Broken Tackle %.

Despite these differences, the two metrics correlate pretty strongly. That suggests that there is something about the RB's performance that we are both tapping into - our results are not mainly the result of our idiosyncratic methods or subjective judgment. It also suggests that the most important thing for evaluating RB elusiveness is just systematically counting - watching plays and adding up missed tackles & yards after contact for every play based on some consistent standard - and that the special things that we are doing (e.g., him being diligent about tracking every single game, me taking the extra step of separating traffic plays from space plays) might add some additional information but are of secondary importance.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know it would be hard to do but it would be interesting to see where some of the current star RB's in the NFL would fall on this list.

McCoy

Rice

MJD

AP

Charles

I'll do the charting, if someone gets me the videos (full games, cut into <10min videos).

I did do similar elusiveness charting last offseason (though without the space vs. traffic distinction), and I gave it a lot of weight in my rookie RB rankings. These are my Hard To Tackle Ratings for the 2013 draft class (for all players that I tracked at least 2 games for):

8.62 Eddie Lacy

7.65 Johnathan Franklin

7.56 Christine Michael

6.92 Giovani Bernard

6.80 Andre Ellington

6.71 Knile Davis

6.61 Kenjon Barner

6.51 Montee Ball

6.49 Miguel Maysonet

6.37 Joseph Randle

6.36 Mike Gillislee

6.24 Marcus Lattimore

6.19 DJ Harper

6.18 Le'Veon Bell

6.16 Dennis Johnson

6.07 Spencer Ware

5.98 Ray Graham

5.71 Cierre Wood

5.67 Mike James

5.49 Latavius Murray

5.49 Zac Stacy

5.37 Kerwynn Williams

5.08 Rex Burkhead

5.06 Stepfan Taylor

4.61 Michael Ford

Looks pretty good one year later (except for Zac Stacy down near the bottom). Though it's actually uncorrelated with their rookie year yards after contact per carry (for the 9 players with 50+ carries, using data from PFF, r=-0.24).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know it would be hard to do but it would be interesting to see where some of the current star RB's in the NFL would fall on this list.

McCoy

Rice

MJD

AP

Charles

I'll do the charting, if someone gets me the videos (full games, cut into <10min videos).

I did do similar elusiveness charting last offseason (though without the space vs. traffic distinction), and I gave it a lot of weight in my rookie RB rankings. These are my Hard To Tackle Ratings for the 2013 draft class (for all players that I tracked at least 2 games for):

8.62 Eddie Lacy

7.65 Johnathan Franklin

7.56 Christine Michael

6.92 Giovani Bernard

6.80 Andre Ellington

6.71 Knile Davis

6.61 Kenjon Barner

6.51 Montee Ball

6.49 Miguel Maysonet

6.37 Joseph Randle

6.36 Mike Gillislee

6.24 Marcus Lattimore

6.19 DJ Harper

6.18 Le'Veon Bell

6.16 Dennis Johnson

6.07 Spencer Ware

5.98 Ray Graham

5.71 Cierre Wood

5.67 Mike James

5.49 Latavius Murray

5.49 Zac Stacy

5.37 Kerwynn Williams

5.08 Rex Burkhead

5.06 Stepfan Taylor

4.61 Michael Ford

Looks pretty good one year later (except for Zac Stacy down near the bottom). Though it's actually uncorrelated with their rookie year yards after contact per carry (for the 9 players with 50+ carries, using data from PFF, r=-0.24).

Your college rankings corresponded well on the top end with their rookie seasons. Lacy received top grade I believe for run skill. Obviously, he had a great rookie year.

DIdn't get to see Franklin much but he really struggled early. There were even rumors coming out of GB that he might have been cut if he were not a 4th round pick. He didn't see a lot of action.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stats are stats and when you look at college production a lot can skew them:

Specific competition - did they pile up significant stats vs cupcakes or quality competition?

Did they rack up big stats in blowouts?

Did some face better competition with their non-conference schedule.

Do the RBs with a high work load drop down in these statistics - Sankey, Mason, Ball

Do RBs with less of a workload jump up as they had a higher YPC based on a few runs.

Can a guy like Archer continue to run away from guys in the NFL like he did in college...

I am a numbers and data geek and I love looking at this stuff, but I feel you have to look at these stats in greater context...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

Both good questions. The first thing that stands out to me is that most of the guys at the top of the list had very good olines.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

I don't track distance downfield. I do track space vs. traffic, which is intended to account for effects like it. If a RB gets a one-on-one with a safety 10 yards downfield that counts as "in space." It's also "space" if the RB gets to the edge and just has a single cornerback to beat at the line of scrimmage, or if there is a giant hole up the middle with just a single linebacker attempting to fill it, or if a single defensive end penetrates & has a shot at the RB 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Whereas it's "traffic" if three defenders converge on the RB 10 yards downfield, or if a LB is chasing the RB to the outside and stringing him out towards an unblocked CB who is ready to make the play.

"Space" plays do have a much higher yards after contact average, and a higher missed tackle rate.

What I write down after each play looks like this:

0 1 s

0 3 t

2 17 s

2 18 s

0 0 t

0 1 t

0 3 t

1 7 t

1 4 t

1 5 s

0 0 t

1 13 s

0 1 t

0 0 s

0 3 s

0 6 s

0 0 t

That's a complete game - Lache Seastrunk vs. Central Florida, in fact. On his first touch he had 0 missed tackles, 1 yard after the tackling opportunity, and it happened in space. Second touch was in traffic, with 0 missed tackles & 3 yards after tackling opportunity. Third touch involved 2 missed tackles, with 17 yards after the first tackling opportunity, which occurred in space. Etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd actually like to see your findings paired up with BMI stuff. For instance, Archer is not going to handle workhorse workload. Isn't EBF a BMI guy?

Statistically, you can see a couple of prospects a standard deviation or two above the mean. Do you know if your work is statistically significant given how much film you've graded?

Overall, I'm a very big fan of what you've done here and it's very helpful.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

Both good questions. The first thing that stands out to me is that most of the guys at the top of the list had very good olines.

Packers had a good o-line? L O L

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

Both good questions. The first thing that stands out to me is that most of the guys at the top of the list had very good olines.

Packers had a good o-line? L O L

I think he's referring to when they were in college.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My RB prospect rankings take into account these elusiveness numbers as well as size, athleticism, and other things. The most recent set of rankings that I've posted are here; I might make a post going into more detail on my methods for those. (Sims & Freeman have both moved down my rankings since that post because of Peshek's elusiveness numbers, while Houston has moved up because of his pro day.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

Both good questions. The first thing that stands out to me is that most of the guys at the top of the list had very good olines.

Packers had a good o-line? L O L

I think he's referring to when they were in college.

Yup, their college Olines. I'd imagine the guys with good Olines had a higher percentage of space touches. Also, specific usage and level of competition could influence the numbers.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I do adjust for level of competition.

My method for making that adjustment: I treated each player-game as one data point, calculated the Hard To Tackle Rating for that game, and then ran a regression predicting Hard To Tackle Rating based on 1) the opponent's DSRS and 2) the name of the RB. DSRS was a statistically significant predictor (controlling for the identity of the RB), which means that any given RB does tend to have a better Hard to Tackle Rating against worse defenses (by DSRS) than against better defenses. So, when calculating a player's Hard To Tackle Rating, I add an SOS adjustment based on their opponents' DSRS, with the weight given to that factor based on the slope of the regression line.

A few additional details: I just redid the calculation yesterday (now that I have more data than before) & found that I should be giving SOS a little bit more weight than I had been, so I'll be updating the ratings slightly. Teams that are not among the 125 FBS teams are all given a DSRS of -18. The single-game Hard To Tackle Rating used in the regression is calculated by last year's formula, which does not make use of the traffic vs. space information.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you chart the average distance beyond the LOS each guy encountered a missed tackle opportunity?

Do the numbers show its easier to be elusive farther downfield?

Both good questions. The first thing that stands out to me is that most of the guys at the top of the list had very good olines.

Packers had a good o-line? L O L

I think he's referring to when they were in college.

Yup, their college Olines. I'd imagine the guys with good Olines had a higher percentage of space touches. Also, specific usage and level of competition could influence the numbers.

Ah yes. My drunk packer fan self was feeling a bit defensive last night.

Agreed. Carry on!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking ahead to next year, I have also charted 3 games each of Melvin Gordon & Jay Ajayi (just under 50 touches each). Gordon rates as an 8.3, Ajayi as a 7.9. In other words, they're both ahead of everyone except Lacy & Archer. Gordon's elusiveness numbers are better than Ajayi's in space, and Ajayi's are better in traffic, but they're both above average at both.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking ahead to next year, I have also charted 3 games each of Melvin Gordon & Jay Ajayi (just under 50 touches each). Gordon rates as an 8.3, Ajayi as a 7.9. In other words, they're both ahead of everyone except Lacy & Archer. Gordon's elusiveness numbers are better than Ajayi's in space, and Ajayi's are better in traffic, but they're both above average at both.

Good to know. People are really underrating Ajayi. He's just as talented as the BCS RBs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Z, I think you're onto something really good here. How many RBs total do you have scored? All-told -- across multiple years?

I'd love to take a look at the RBs with NFL-caliber physical tools that pass your measure and fail mine, or that fail mine and pass yours. I have a hypothesis that neither of our metrics should be applied to all RBs equally.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Z, I think you're onto something really good here. How many RBs total do you have scored? All-told -- across multiple years?

I'd love to take a look at the RBs with NFL-caliber physical tools that pass your measure and fail mine, or that fail mine and pass yours. I have a hypothesis that neither of our metrics should be applied to all RBs equally.

I have posted almost all of the RBs that I've scored (20 this year, 25 from last year), except for the 2012 class & some small sample size guys.

Here is how the 2012 class ranked, according to the methods that I was using at the time (I won't include the numbers, since they are on a slightly different scale):

david wilson

trent richardson

doug martin

chris polk

isaiah pead

ronnie hillman

lamar miller

cyrus gray

lamichael james

robert turbin

bernard pierce

With this year's draft class, here are 5 more guys who have at least 2 games & 30 touches charted:

7.7 David Fluellen

6.6 Alfred Blue

6.0 De'Anthony Thomas

5.7 Rajion Neal

5.4 Storm Johnson

I think that's everyone, except for the guys with a really tiny sample size. Among players who I've just charted one game for, some of them score really bad (Tyler Gaffney, Kapri Bibbs, Jawan Jamison, Cameron Marshall), and the rest are in a range where pretty much all I can say is "not enough info".

I'd love to get some more videos of Stephen Houston, George Atkinson, and Henry Josey (who show promise in tiny sample sizes), along with more players from previous years (especially anyone who was drafted in the first 2 rounds, or who turned out to be good). But, with my current process, I'm limited to the game cutups which are on Youtube - it would take me a lot longer to do this charting if I wasn't starting from game videos which had already been edited down to <10 min. Youtube prospect videos have really only taken off in the past couple years, so that limits what I can do in terms of digging back farther in time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

I've charted about 50 touches each for several RBs from the class of 2015+. Here are their Hard To Tackle ratings:

8.29 Melvin Gordon
7.82 Jay Ajayi
7.66 Karlos Williams
7.65 Ameer Abdullah
6.36 Todd Gurley
6.36 TJ Yeldon

Gordon, Ajayi, Williams, and Abdullah are ahead of everyone from the past two draft classes except for Dri Archer & Eddie Lacy. Gordon & Yeldon are just be slightly above average relative to the class of 2014 (though it's worth noting that they both faced extremely tough defenses in the games that I charted).

In even smaller sample sizes, Duke Johnson is up there in the Ajayi tier, and Mike Davis is near Gurley.

More detailed breakdowns for these 8 backs have been added to a new sheet of the spreadsheet. Most of the top tier of backs stood out in space; Ajayi is the one who really excelled in traffic rather than in space (though he was also above average in space). In the games I charted Gurley struggled in traffic but made up for it with strong numbers in space; Yeldon was the opposite with bad numbers in space and good ones in traffic.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've charted about 50 touches each for several RBs from the class of 2015+. Here are their Hard To Tackle ratings:

8.29 Melvin Gordon

7.82 Jay Ajayi

7.66 Karlos Williams

7.65 Ameer Abdullah

6.36 Todd Gurley

6.36 TJ Yeldon

Gordon, Ajayi, Williams, and Abdullah are ahead of everyone from the past two draft classes except for Dri Archer & Eddie Lacy. Gordon & Yeldon are just be slightly above average relative to the class of 2014 (though it's worth noting that they both faced extremely tough defenses in the games that I charted).

In even smaller sample sizes, Duke Johnson is up there in the Ajayi tier, and Mike Davis is near Gurley.

More detailed breakdowns for these 8 backs have been added to a new sheet of the spreadsheet. Most of the top tier of backs stood out in space; Ajayi is the one who really excelled in traffic rather than in space (though he was also above average in space). In the games I charted Gurley struggled in traffic but made up for it with strong numbers in space; Yeldon was the opposite with bad numbers in space and good ones in traffic.

Karlos Williams looked anything but elusive in the handful of games I've watched of him. He's big and fast, but he didn't break a ton of tackles.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've charted about 50 touches each for several RBs from the class of 2015+. Here are their Hard To Tackle ratings:

8.29 Melvin Gordon

7.82 Jay Ajayi

7.66 Karlos Williams

7.65 Ameer Abdullah

6.36 Todd Gurley

6.36 TJ Yeldon

Gordon, Ajayi, Williams, and Abdullah are ahead of everyone from the past two draft classes except for Dri Archer & Eddie Lacy. Gordon & Yeldon are just be slightly above average relative to the class of 2014 (though it's worth noting that they both faced extremely tough defenses in the games that I charted).

In even smaller sample sizes, Duke Johnson is up there in the Ajayi tier, and Mike Davis is near Gurley.

More detailed breakdowns for these 8 backs have been added to a new sheet of the spreadsheet. Most of the top tier of backs stood out in space; Ajayi is the one who really excelled in traffic rather than in space (though he was also above average in space). In the games I charted Gurley struggled in traffic but made up for it with strong numbers in space; Yeldon was the opposite with bad numbers in space and good ones in traffic.

Karlos Williams looked anything but elusive in the handful of games I've watched of him. He's big and fast, but he didn't break a ton of tackles.

He was average at breaking tackles, and extremely good at picking up yards after contact (especially in space).

Link to post
Share on other sites

8.45 Dri Archer

7.53 Tim Flanders

7.33 Carlos Hyde

7.20 Jeremy Hill

7.13 Devonta Freeman

6.98 James Wilder

6.90 Lache Seastrunk

6.84 Antonio Andrews

6.68 Charles Sims

6.65 Isaiah Crowell

6.49 Ka'Deem Carey

6.35 Jerick McKinnon

6.29 Andre Williams

6.22 Tre Mason

6.06 Bishop Sankey

6.00 Silas Redd

5.57 James White

5.36 Marion Grice

5.24 Damien Williams

4.61 Terrance West

First and foremost...outstanding work ZWK!

The list last year coincided with on-field success so as others have stated you are probably onto something with this metric.

One thing that sticks out to me as a Browns fan is the low elusiveness rating for RB Terrance West.

Kyle Shanahan had success with Alfred Morris a few years ago so I wondered how certain systems might create outlineners from your metirc.

Very curious to see where Al Morris would have ranked on the elusiveness rating and if the shanahan 'system' fits or doesn't with this metric.

Once again, excellent work!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've charted about 50 touches each for several RBs from the class of 2015+. Here are their Hard To Tackle ratings:

8.29 Melvin Gordon

7.82 Jay Ajayi

7.66 Karlos Williams

7.65 Ameer Abdullah

6.36 Todd Gurley

6.36 TJ Yeldon

Gordon, Ajayi, Williams, and Abdullah are ahead of everyone from the past two draft classes except for Dri Archer & Eddie Lacy. Gordon & Yeldon are just be slightly above average relative to the class of 2014 (though it's worth noting that they both faced extremely tough defenses in the games that I charted).

In even smaller sample sizes, Duke Johnson is up there in the Ajayi tier, and Mike Davis is near Gurley.

More detailed breakdowns for these 8 backs have been added to a new sheet of the spreadsheet. Most of the top tier of backs stood out in space; Ajayi is the one who really excelled in traffic rather than in space (though he was also above average in space). In the games I charted Gurley struggled in traffic but made up for it with strong numbers in space; Yeldon was the opposite with bad numbers in space and good ones in traffic.

Karlos Williams looked anything but elusive in the handful of games I've watched of him. He's big and fast, but he didn't break a ton of tackles.

Have to agree with you there. I would say he's very much a straight-line speed guy with limited make-you-miss ability.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've charted about 50 touches each for several RBs from the class of 2015+. Here are their Hard To Tackle ratings:

8.29 Melvin Gordon

7.82 Jay Ajayi

7.66 Karlos Williams

7.65 Ameer Abdullah

6.36 Todd Gurley

6.36 TJ Yeldon

Gordon, Ajayi, Williams, and Abdullah are ahead of everyone from the past two draft classes except for Dri Archer & Eddie Lacy. Gordon & Yeldon are just be slightly above average relative to the class of 2014 (though it's worth noting that they both faced extremely tough defenses in the games that I charted).

In even smaller sample sizes, Duke Johnson is up there in the Ajayi tier, and Mike Davis is near Gurley.

More detailed breakdowns for these 8 backs have been added to a new sheet of the spreadsheet. Most of the top tier of backs stood out in space; Ajayi is the one who really excelled in traffic rather than in space (though he was also above average in space). In the games I charted Gurley struggled in traffic but made up for it with strong numbers in space; Yeldon was the opposite with bad numbers in space and good ones in traffic.

Karlos Williams looked anything but elusive in the handful of games I've watched of him. He's big and fast, but he didn't break a ton of tackles.

Have to agree with you there. I would say he's very much a straight-line speed guy with limited make-you-miss ability.

This is the kind of run that probably pumps up those numbers:

http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/fsu/blog/WilliamsIdaho.gif

I don't think he's going to break you down in the open field often, but he'll cut past defenders who aren't squared up and he'll bust through arm tackles. And he'll drive his legs through contact.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've charted about 50 touches each for several RBs from the class of 2015+. Here are their Hard To Tackle ratings:

8.29 Melvin Gordon

7.82 Jay Ajayi

7.66 Karlos Williams

7.65 Ameer Abdullah

6.36 Todd Gurley

6.36 TJ Yeldon

Gordon, Ajayi, Williams, and Abdullah are ahead of everyone from the past two draft classes except for Dri Archer & Eddie Lacy. Gordon & Yeldon are just be slightly above average relative to the class of 2014 (though it's worth noting that they both faced extremely tough defenses in the games that I charted).

In even smaller sample sizes, Duke Johnson is up there in the Ajayi tier, and Mike Davis is near Gurley.

More detailed breakdowns for these 8 backs have been added to a new sheet of the spreadsheet. Most of the top tier of backs stood out in space; Ajayi is the one who really excelled in traffic rather than in space (though he was also above average in space). In the games I charted Gurley struggled in traffic but made up for it with strong numbers in space; Yeldon was the opposite with bad numbers in space and good ones in traffic.

Is the Hard To Tackle Rating based on the All Touches data? Or do you weigh the Space and Traffic Differently?

Also, I see you only charted 3 games of Gordon. I'm assuming those are the ones on Draft Breakdown. There are other games posted by users not affiliated with Draft Breakdown. Not sure if you came across these yet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYQ__VQXXRg

https://www.youtube.com/user/CollegeFBDude/search?query=gordon

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the Hard To Tackle Rating based on the All Touches data? Or do you weigh the Space and Traffic Differently?

It includes space, traffic, and all touches data separately. It's basically a weighted sum, (a x Space Capped YAC) + (b x Traffic Capped YAC) + (c x All Touches Capped YAC) + (d x Space BT%) + ..., where a,b,c,d,... are the weights. If you just use the all touches numbers, then the RBs who got an unusually high fraction of their touches in space will tend to look good (and those who got a lot of traffic touches will look bad) - including them separately adjusts for that.

Also, I see you only charted 3 games of Gordon. I'm assuming those are the ones on Draft Breakdown. There are other games posted by users not affiliated with Draft Breakdown. Not sure if you came across these yet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYQ__VQXXRg

https://www.youtube.com/user/CollegeFBDude/search?query=gordon

Thanks for the links - I hadn't seen the CollegeFBDude videos. I'd charted Gordon's 2013 games against Illinois, Arizona St., and Northwestern (the last of those wasn't on Draft Breakdown). I just charted his BYU, Ohio St., and UMass games as well, which brings his numbers down a bit (he's now behind Abdullah at the bottom of that first tier, instead of being at the top of it).

Karlos Williams looked anything but elusive in the handful of games I've watched of him. He's big and fast, but he didn't break a ton of tackles.

Have to agree with you there. I would say he's very much a straight-line speed guy with limited make-you-miss ability.

This is the kind of run that probably pumps up those numbers:

http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/fsu/blog/WilliamsIdaho.gif

I don't think he's going to break you down in the open field often, but he'll cut past defenders who aren't squared up and he'll bust through arm tackles. And he'll drive his legs through contact.

I have Williams down for 3 missed tackles and 34 yards after contact on that play against Idaho (though the YAC gets capped at 15 yards for calculating his Space Capped YAC). So that one play does help his BT% by a fair amount (it accounts 3 of his 16 missed tackles), but it doesn't impact his YAC all that much. His YAC numbers come out well because he had a lot of carries where he picked up 5-10 yards after the initial tackling opportunity in space (including plays where he didn't break a tackle). His size, speed, and downhill running style help him with that. There are some examples in this video at 0:24, 3:33, 14:29, 14:54, 16:05, 16:37. These aren't all great plays - in some of them he had a chance to do more but did not - but he did manage to pick up several yards after initial contact in all of them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

This is some awesome stuff ZWK. I love reading things like this even if you look back on the past and it doesn't really end up correlating, but looking back at your rankings the last couple years prospects really gives this some legs. It's almost spot on.

Can you touch some on what you think of Dri Archer? He's the #1 this year by a large margin and I have a feeling it could be chalked up to the type of player he is. Hard to imagine him being a fantasy RB1 given his size and skillset. But then again, your #1 the past 2 years has been spot on (Yes I believe Wilson is more talented than TRich and Martin) and Gordon is definitely near the top of the list of prospects for net year too.

Doing a startup now and getting into the late rounds and he's still sitting there. Was going to pass on him for one of the traditional late round rookie WR's, but now I'm not so sure.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hard to get that excited about Archer for fantasy, for reasons that have nothing to do with elusiveness. I expect that his speed & elusiveness will transfer well into the return game, but for him to have fantasy value he'll need to find a role on offense and he doesn't look like the kind of guy who can just slot into a standard role. There just aren't any players his size (173 lbs.) who do much in the running game - Dunn, Kaufman, and Sproles are the closest (in recent decades), but they each had about 10 pounds on him. And he doesn't seem that impressive as a receiver in terms of skills like route running & hands (I don't track drops explicitly but I noticed a lot of them when I was watching him).

The biggest reasons for optimism are Sproles, Woodhead, Vereen, Harvin, Austin, and Cooks. Austin is actually the only one of those 6 who is the same size as Archer (the other 5 all have 10+ pounds on him), but they all at least suggest that the NFL might have a fantasy-relevant role for him on offense. Sproles' New Orleans role is probably the closest to what you can hope for with Archer - he most commonly lines up in the backfield but does more damage catching the ball than running with it. Woodhead & Vereen suggest that that role might be catching on - last year they were also fantasy-relevant backs who had more receiving yards than rushing yards. Harvin has a somewhat similar role (although his role is shaded towards more of a traditional receiver role). Austin & Cooks were recently drafted in the first round, possibly to play a similar role - Austin has the same build as Archer (but showed more receiving skills in college); Cooks is bigger and was closer to a standard receiver in college but he's being talked about as a Sproles replacement.

But multiple things are going to need to go right for Archer to get that role, and it's unlikely to turn into more than fantasy RB2 production even if all of the things do go right. The two biggest question marks for Archer: he'll need the Steelers to decide to make that role a big enough part of the offense, and he'll need to show the receiving skills to make it work.

Right now I have Archer rated close to rookies like Seastrunk, Crowell, Huff, Brown, Bryant, Lyerla, Fiedorowicz, and Rodgers. I think he's worth more in leagues with deep rosters than in shallow leagues, since we may have to wait a year or two to see what he can do on offense. I wouldn't be surprised to see something like the Devin Hester / Steve Smith early career path where he starts as an electric returner and eventually gets a shot on offense.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archer is someone I've been digging deep on lately. If you want to like him someone like Warrick Dunn and, going back a long way, maybe James Brooks of the Bengals might be reason to hope. He's lighter than both but is also shorter which helps at least a bit. I think he's still a long shot to get 10 touches a game but he'll put up great efficiency numbers on whatever he gets IMO. Worth watching.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archer is someone I've been digging deep on lately. If you want to like him someone like Warrick Dunn and, going back a long way, maybe James Brooks of the Bengals might be reason to hope. He's lighter than both but is also shorter which helps at least a bit. I think he's still a long shot to get 10 touches a game but he'll put up great efficiency numbers on whatever he gets IMO. Worth watching.

I'm also an Archer Addict and if he gets to 180 as a playing weight, that gives him a BMI of 27.4. Still on the low side, but comparable to a Robert Smith or Charlie Garner.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey ZWK,

Their seems to be a Mendoza Line of sorts around the 6.8 point on RBs chosen in last year's draft in terms of success on the field. All of the players who had that ranking last year produced well and with a few exceptions those who fell below didn't.

8.62 Eddie Lacy
7.65 Johnathan Franklin
7.56 Christine Michael
6.92 Giovani Bernard
6.80 Andre Ellington

===================
6.71 Knile Davis
6.61 Kenjon Barner
6.51 Montee Ball
6.49 Miguel Maysonet
6.37 Joseph Randle
6.36 Mike Gillislee
6.24 Marcus Lattimore
6.19 DJ Harper
6.18 Le'Veon Bell
6.16 Dennis Johnson
6.07 Spencer Ware
5.98 Ray Graham
5.71 Cierre Wood
5.67 Mike James
5.49 Latavius Murray
5.49 Zac Stacy
5.37 Kerwynn Williams
5.08 Rex Burkhead
5.06 Stepfan Taylor
4.61 Michael Ford

These are the players who are over the 6.8 line from this year's RB class.

8.45 Dri Archer
7.53 Tim Flanders
7.33 Carlos Hyde
7.20 Jeremy Hill
7.13 Devonta Freeman
6.98 James Wilder
6.90 Lache Seastrunk
6.84 Antonio Andrews

You do not include numbers from the 2012 draft class because you used different numbers so you didn;'t want to confuse anyone but here is the list you have from 2012.

"Here is how the 2012 class ranked, according to the methods that I was using at the time (I won't include the numbers, since they are on a slightly different scale):"

david wilson
trent richardson
doug martin
chris polk
isaiah pead
ronnie hillman
lamar miller
cyrus gray
lamichael james
robert turbin
bernard pierce

You don't list Alfred Morris on the 2012 list so I'm assuming he didn't rank high enough. He would be an outliner even greater than Zac Stacy from last year but Washington took a RB from this draft class who is above the 6.8 line in Lache Seastrunk.

Earlier I brought up the name of Al Morris because I wanted to see where he ranked on your 2012 list since his OC, Kyle Shanahan, is in Cleveland where the Browns chose the guy who ranks dead-last on this year's elusiveness rating in Terrance West.

So if Alfred Morris didn't rate a mention on your 2012 list and his OC was K-Shanahan and this year T-West has such a low ranking ... Well I'm wondering if the slide-zone blocking scheme and spread-read-option passing attack could create outliners to your elusiveness rating like Al Morris and 'possibly' Terrance West?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have data on Alfred Morris. There weren't (and, as far as I can tell, still aren't) game cutups of him online. If a player is left off my lists, it's because of lack of data; I haven't left anyone off because of bad numbers.

I don't believe in sharp cutoffs (like a 6.80 Mendoza line) with these sorts of data. Partly that is because the numbers are somewhat fuzzy/imperfect. I don't watch every touch of every game, in 2013 I didn't distinguish between traffic & space, and I made a bunch of judgment calls (on what counts as a missed tackle, what formula to use, etc.) which could've gone differently. If I did things slightly differently, players could easily move up or down a few tenths of a point (perhaps more). It's just the general pattern of the ratings which seems to be relatively stable (e.g., players who rate highly by my numbers tend to also rate highly by Greg Peshek's numbers).

Also, elusiveness is just one relevant factor out of many. If I wanted to give the main reasons why I think Barner hasn't done much so far (and probably won't) I wouldn't say that he's not quite elusive enough, instead I'd point out that he's really small and his speed is pretty good but not blazing like a Charles/Spiller. Ware ran a 4.62 40 (pro day) and the longest carry of his college career was only 35 yards; I would not point to his unspectacular elusiveness numbers as the main reason why he got moved to fullback. And similarly for most of the other guys in the 5.8-6.8 range who haven't panned out and don't look promising.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...

Update?

My current Hard To Tackle Ratings for the 2015 draft class:

7.47 Jay Ajayi

7.35 Tevin Coleman

7.28 Ameer Abdullah

7.26 David Cobb

7.20 Melvin Gordon

7.13 Cameron Artis-Payne

7.04 Karlos Williams

7.01 Todd Gurley

6.82 Duke Johnson

6.80 David Johnson

6.62 Mike Davis

6.47 T.J. Yeldon

6.19 Jeremy Langford

5.53 Javorius Allen

Generally good, and pretty tightly packed. Down on Buck Allen, and to a lesser extent Langford & Yeldon. It's possible that there has been a slight change to my standards for what counts as "traffic" vs. "space", which would make these numbers slightly inflated relative to last year.

I've been sharing these numbers (along with more fine-grained breakdowns) in this spreadsheet, which I update whenever I track more games. And I've been discussing this year's prospects in more depth in this thread.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...