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Doug Drinen wrote this article 11 years ago, and it serves as a good reminder to always look at offensive numbers in the context of a player’s team. Yesterday, I looked at tackle leaders as a percentage of team tackles.  Today we will do the same thing with yards from scrimmage.

Arizona running back David Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last year with 2,118 yards. The Cardinals as a team gained 6,157 yards of offense (before deducting for sack yards lost), which means Johnson gained 34.4% of his team’s total output. That also led the league. However, Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell missed three games due to suspension and sat out a meaningless week 17 game.  Bell averaged 157 yards per game last year, the third-most in NFL history. He was responsible for 30.7% of the Steelers total yards from scrimmage last year, but on a pro-rated basis (i.e., multiplying that by 16/12), that jumps to an insane (although not historically extraordinary) 40.9%.

That’s the column the table is sorted by below. Here’s how to read Bell’s line. He gained 1,884 yards for Pittsburgh, while the Steelers as a team had 6,137 total yards. Bell therefore was responsible for 30.7% of Pittsburgh’s yards, but he only played in 12 games. On a pro-rated basis, he ranks first at 40.9%. The table below shows the top 75 leaders in this metric, minimum 6 games played:

RkPlayerPosTeamYFSTeam YFSPercGPro-Rated
1Le'Veon BellRBPIT1884613730.7%1240.9%
2David JohnsonRBARI2118615734.4%1634.4%
3Ezekiel ElliottRBDAL1994619532.2%1534.3%
4Melvin GordonRBSDG1416589624%1329.6%
5LeSean McCoyRBBUF1623588027.6%1529.4%
6Jordan HowardRBCHI1611587427.4%1529.3%
7DeMarco MurrayRBTEN1664590728.2%1628.2%
8Spencer WareFBKAN1368566224.2%1427.6%
9Jay AjayiRBMIA1423554025.7%1527.4%
10Carlos HydeRBSFO1151518522.2%1327.3%
11Lamar MillerRBHOU1261527723.9%1427.3%
12Todd GurleyRBLAR1212456526.5%1626.5%
13A.J. GreenWRCIN964597516.1%1025.8%
14Odell BeckhamWRNYG1376543925.3%1625.3%
15C.J. AndersonRBDEN565539810.5%723.9%
16T.Y. HiltonWRIND1448611923.7%1623.7%
17Isaiah CrowellRBCLE1271540523.5%1623.5%
18Kenny BrittWRLAR1002456521.9%1523.4%
19Julio JonesWRATL1409688820.5%1423.4%
20Mike EvansWRTAM1321578122.9%1622.9%
21Matt ForteRBNYJ1076544719.8%1422.6%
22Antonio BrownWRPIT1293613721.1%1522.5%
23Devonta FreemanRBATL1541688822.4%1622.4%
24Frank GoreRBIND1302611921.3%1621.3%
25Stefon DiggsWRMIN913532417.1%1321.1%
26Jarvis LandryWRMIA1153554020.8%1620.8%
27Theo RiddickRBDET728563712.9%1020.7%
28Jordy NelsonWRGNB1257614620.5%1620.5%
29Bilal PowellRBNYJ1110544720.4%1620.4%
30Demaryius ThomasWRDEN1083539820.1%1620.1%
31Latavius MurrayRBOAK1052605917.4%1419.8%
32Travis KelceTEKAN1120566219.8%1619.8%
33Mark IngramRBNOR1362700019.5%1619.5%
34Doug MartinRBTAM55557819.6%819.2%
35Emmanuel SandersWRDEN1036539819.2%1619.2%
36Golden TateWRDET1081563719.2%1619.2%
37Amari CooperWROAK1153605919%1619%
38Terrelle PryorWRCLE1028540519%1619%
39LeGarrette BlountRBNWE1199632818.9%1618.9%
40Jonathan StewartRBCAR884577615.3%1318.8%
41Doug BaldwinWRSEA1130601318.8%1618.8%
42Alshon JefferyWRCHI821587414%1218.6%
43Greg OlsenTECAR1073577618.6%1618.6%
44Adam ThielenWRMIN982532418.4%1618.4%
45Julian EdelmanWRNWE1163632818.4%1618.4%
46Matt JonesRBWAS53366448%718.3%
47Jacquizz RodgersRBTAM658578111.4%1018.2%
48Jeremy HillRBCIN1013597517%1518.1%
49DeAndre HopkinsWRHOU954527718.1%1618.1%
50Mike WallaceWRBAL1048580618.1%1618.1%
51Giovani BernardRBCIN673597511.3%1018%
52Rashad JenningsRBNYG794543914.6%1318%
53Tyrell WilliamsWRSDG1059589618%1618%
54Marvin JonesWRDET933563716.6%1517.7%
55Terrance WestRBBAL1010580617.4%1617.4%
56Cameron MeredithWRCHI894587415.2%1417.4%
57Michael ThomasWRNOR1137700016.2%1517.3%
58Brandin CooksWRNOR1203700017.2%1617.2%
59Rob GronkowskiTENWE54063288.5%817.1%
60Ryan MathewsRBPHI776561113.8%1317%
61Tevin ColemanRBATL941688813.7%1316.8%
62Christine MichaelRBSEA56560139.4%916.7%
63Larry FitzgeraldWRARI1028615716.7%1616.7%
64Zach ErtzTEPHI816561114.5%1416.6%
65Michael CrabtreeWROAK1003605916.6%1616.6%
66Darren SprolesRBPHI865561115.4%1516.4%
67Jordan MatthewsWRPHI804561114.3%1416.4%
68Chris IvoryRBJAX625555611.2%1116.4%
69Kelvin BenjaminWRCAR941577616.3%1616.3%
70Devontae BookerRBDEN877539816.2%1616.2%
71Davante AdamsWRGNB997614616.2%1616.2%
72DeSean JacksonWRWAS1005664415.1%1516.1%
73Duke JohnsonRBCLE872540516.1%1616.1%
74Rishard MatthewsWRTEN945590716%1616%
75Quincy EnunwaWRNYJ869544716%1616%

Some thoughts:

  • Among wide receivers, only Odell Beckham gained at least 25% of his team’s total yards from scrimmage, although A.J. Green did so on a pro-rated basis.
  • Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen were the two tight ends to crack the 1,000-yard mark, and they check in at #32 and  #43 respectively. Rob Gronkowski is down at #59 even on the pro-rated list, but that’s probably misleading: he played in 8 games In two of his 8 games, he played in just 21 snaps combined, and a third game came with a third string quarterback. Gronkowski averaged 67.5 yards per game last year in 8 games, but he averaged 105.8 yards per game in his other five games.
  • Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, and Todd Gurley rank 10-11-12, and they also played on the three teams with the lowest offensive output.  This analysis obviously helps them: the real question is how much of their lack of raw success was due to them, and how much to their team?  In all three cases, it seems more reasonable to blame their teammates than them.

What stands out to you?

  • Joseph Holley

    IMO, the pro-rated column is interesting, but misleading. If you can’t play in the game, you can’t help your team. It’s one thing to pro-rate for players who rested in week 17 games, because they could have played (and would have, if necessary). But let’s not act like Bell deserves a boost in his stats b/c he was suspended for the first 3 games.
    Also, it’s easier to rank higher when your team’s offense stinks (see the last bullet point). All this shows is that you were the best player on a bad offense, and that the coach tried to feed you the ball b/c your teammates are worse.
    When the top 4 offenses (by total yardage) have only 1 guy in the top 20 (Julio Jones at #19), it shows how you put together a great TEAM–have multiple good players and a balanced attack where anyone can do damage. Considering that Zeke is the only DAL representative, imagine if he carried just 5% less of the load and that Dez took 2%, and Witten, Beasley, and other WRs took the other 3%. That offense would be even scarier. (I’m not a Cowboys fan–but those guys should get better this year–ouch!) Obviously, sometimes you spread the ball around, and a talented offensive player gains a larger percentage of yards. And generally, those players would be stars on every team, regardless of scheme/coach/teammates. But the best offenses gain lots of yards b/c they can pick at the weak links of the defense, or “take what the defense gives them” b/c they have solid players at more positions.

    • Richie

      It’s not really a boost in stats. It’s just a way to see how heavily a team relies on particular players.

      I don’t think this post is about telling us which players were better. It’s just informational.

  • sacramento gold miners

    I’d have to say Todd Gurley had a very disappointing season, and was a reason for LA’s offensive struggles. He looked tentative, and a 3.2 ypc is horrible. The other players which stand out would be the resurgent seasons for McCoy and Murray. McCoy enjoyed the highest ypc of his career, and Murray bounced back after a wasted year in Philadelphia.

  • Quinton White

    Why pro-rate instead of the player’s percentage of team YFS in the games they played? Would that be a ton more work (for probably similar results)?

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