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In 2008, Jamaal Charles had 67 carries and averaged 5.33 yards per carry. Those 67 carries represent 5% of Charles’ career attempts to date (excluding playoffs). That season, the NFL league average was 4.20 yards per carry, which means Charles was 1.12 (after rounding) YPC above average in 2008, or 1.12 YPC above average on 5% of his career carries.

In ’09, Charles had 190 carries, representing 15% of his career YPC. He averaged 5.89 YPC, and the league average was 4.24, which means Charles was 1.65 YPC above average for 15% of his career carries.

In 2010, those numbers were 230, 18%, 6.38, and 4.21, so Charles was 2.17 YPC above league average on 18% of his career carries.

I performed that analysis for every season of Charles’ career — and every other player in NFL history — to determine each player’s career YPC average relative to league average. The table below shows the 200 running backs (by default, only the top 10 are shown) in pro football history with the most carries. The table is sorted by YPC over league average. Here’s how to read it. Jamaal Charles ranks 1st in YPC over league average. His first year was 2008 and his last year (so far) was 2014. For his career, Charles has 1,249 career rush attempts, which ranks 118th in pro football history. He has 6,856 yards, giving him a 5.49 career YPC average. His “expected” career yards per carry average — based on the league average YPC in each season of his career, weighted by his number of carries — is 4.21. Therefore, Charles has averaged 1.28 YPC above league average for his career, the highest rate in football history.

RkNameFirst YrLast YrRshRk RshRush YdYPCExp YPCDiff
1Jamaal Charles20082014124911868565.494.211.28
2Jim Brown19571965235927123125.224.081.14
3Barry Sanders1989199830626152694.993.931.05
4Gale Sayers19651971991197495653.951.05
5Joe Perry1948196319294397235.044.090.95
6Paul Lowe19601969102618249954.873.990.88
7Robert Smith1993200014119068184.833.960.87
8Lenny Moore19561967106916151744.844.050.79
9Greg Pruitt19731984119612956724.743.970.77
10Adrian Peterson20072014205436101904.964.210.75
11Wendell Tyler19771986134410163784.7540.74
12James Brooks1981199216855879624.7340.72
13Stump Mitchell1981198998620046494.7240.72
14O.J. Simpson19691979240426112364.674.010.67
15Hugh McElhenny19521964112415452814.74.050.65
16Terrell Davis1995200116556076074.63.960.64
17Steve Van Buren19441951132010558604.443.810.63
18Tiki Barber19972006221729104494.714.10.61
19Charlie Garner1994200415377270974.624.010.6
20DeAngelo Williams2006201414328468464.784.20.58
21William Andrews19791986131510659864.5540.55
22Billy Sims19801984113115251064.513.990.52
23Fred Taylor19982010253423116954.624.10.51
24Priest Holmes1997200717805481724.594.090.5
25Freeman McNeil1981199217985180744.494.010.49
26Clem Daniels19601968114614951384.484.020.47
27Dick Bass19601969121812254174.4540.45
28Brian Westbrook2002201013859563354.574.140.44
29LeSean McCoy2009201414618267924.654.220.43
30Wilbert Montgomery1977198515407167894.413.980.42
31Eric Dickerson1983199329969132594.434.010.42
32Jonathan Stewart20082014104117348254.634.220.41
33Chris Warren1990200017915276964.33.90.4
34Tony Canadeo19411952102518341974.093.70.39
35Abner Haynes19601967103617646304.474.080.39
36Otis Armstrong19731980102318444534.353.960.39
37Jim Taylor1958196719414285974.434.050.38
38Ahmad Bradshaw20072014105216848434.64.230.37
39Ollie Matson19521966117013751734.424.050.37
40Walter Payton1975198738382167264.363.990.36
41Lawrence McCutcheon1972198115217465784.323.970.35
42Ahman Green1998200920563592054.484.130.35
43Darrin Nelson19821992102018744424.354.010.35
44Frank Gore20052014244224110734.534.180.35
45Tony Dorsett19771988293611127394.343.990.35
46Garrison Hearst1993200418314879664.354.010.35
47Marshall Faulk19942005283615122794.333.990.34
48Chris Johnson2008201418974486284.554.220.32
49Clinton Portis2002201022302899234.454.140.31
50Chuck Muncie1976198415616967024.293.980.31
51Arian Foster2009201413919463094.544.230.31
52Earl Campbell1978198521873094074.340.3
53Delvin Williams19741981131210755984.273.970.3
54Larry Csonka1968197918914580814.273.990.28
55Brandon Jacobs20052013114115050944.464.190.28
56John Henry Johnson1954196615716868034.334.070.26
57Thurman Thomas19882000287713120744.23.940.26
58Michael Turner2004201216396473384.484.220.26
59Gary Brown19911999103217743004.173.910.25
60Dexter Bussey19741984120312651054.243.990.25
61Craig Heyward19881998103117843014.173.920.25
62Herschel Walker1986199719544082254.213.960.25
63John David Crow19581968115714449634.294.040.25
64George Rogers1981198716925771764.244.010.24
65Larry Johnson2003201114278962234.364.130.23
66Leroy Kelly1964197317275572744.213.980.23
67Bob Hoernschemeyer19461955105916445484.294.070.23
68Corey Dillon19972006261820112414.294.070.22
69Maurice Jones-Drew2006201418474681674.424.210.21
70Cookie Gilchrist19621967101019042934.254.040.21
71Shaun Alexander2000200821873094534.324.110.21
72Fred Jackson20072014127911456464.414.210.2
73Calvin Hill1969198114528360834.1940.19
74Emmitt Smith1990200444091183554.163.980.19
75Willie Parker20042009125311753784.294.120.18
76Mike Garrett19661973130810954814.194.010.18
77LaDainian Tomlinson2001201131745136844.314.140.17
78Robert Newhouse19721983116014047844.123.970.15
79J.D. Smith19561966110015746724.254.110.14
80Don Perkins1961196815007762174.144.020.13
81Ricky Watters19922001262219106434.063.930.13
82Reggie Bush20062014126611654654.324.20.12
83Franco Harris19721984294910121204.113.990.12
84Gerald Riggs1982199119893981884.1240.11
85Roger Craig1983199319913881894.1140.11
86Deuce McAllister2001200814298860964.274.160.11
87Greg Bell19841990120412449594.124.010.11
88Matt Snell19641972105716642854.053.950.11
89Joe Cribbs19801988130910853564.0940.1
90Neal Anderson1986199315157661664.073.980.09
91Ray Rice2008201314308661804.324.230.09
92Marcus Allen1982199730228122434.053.970.08
93Terry Allen19912001215232861443.920.08
94Stephen Davis1996200619454180524.144.060.08
95Marshawn Lynch2007201420333786954.284.20.08
96Ted Brown19791986111715545464.0740.07
97Jim Nance19651973134110254014.033.960.07
98Johnny Hector19831992105116942804.0740.07
99Carl Garrett19691977103117841974.074.010.06
100Mark van Eeghen1974198316526166514.033.970.06
101Joe Washington19771985119513148394.053.990.06
102John Williams19861995124512050064.023.970.05
103Lorenzo White19881995106216342423.993.940.05
104Ronnie Brown20052014128111253914.214.160.05
105Leroy Hoard19901999100819239643.933.90.04
106Jamal Lewis20002009254222106074.174.140.04
107Jamal Anderson19942001132910353364.023.980.03
108Tommy Mason19611971104017442034.044.010.03
109Warrick Dunn19972008266918109674.114.080.03
110Matt Forte2008201418175077044.244.220.02
111Curt Warner1983199016985668444.034.010.02
112Ottis Anderson19791992256221102734.014.010
113Mike Pruitt197619861844477378440
114Dorsey Levens19942004124312149553.993.99-0.01
115Harvey Williams19911998102118639523.873.88-0.01
116Emerson Boozer19661975129111051353.983.99-0.01
117Duce Staley1997200614308657854.054.06-0.01
118Ricky Williams19992011243125100094.124.13-0.01
119Curtis Martin1995200535183141014.014.02-0.02
120Steven Jackson20042014274316113884.154.18-0.03
121Clarke Hinkle19321941117113638603.33.33-0.03
122Johnny Johnson19901994104617040783.93.93-0.03
123Marion Barber20052011115614647804.134.17-0.03
124Sam Cunningham1973198213859554533.943.97-0.03
125Tony Galbreath19761987103117840723.953.98-0.03
126Kevin Mack19851993129111051233.974-0.04
127Joe Morris1982199114119055853.964-0.04
128Earnest Byner1984199720953382613.943.99-0.04
129Rick Casares1955196614318557974.054.1-0.04
130Travis Henry2001200714888060864.094.14-0.05
131Edgerrin James1999200930287122464.044.09-0.05
132Jerome Bettis1993200534794136623.933.98-0.05
133Christian Okoye19871992124611948973.933.99-0.06
134Chester Taylor20022011116014047404.094.15-0.06
135James Stewart1995200214788158413.954.01-0.06
136Donny Anderson19661974119712846963.923.98-0.06
137Michael Pittman1998200813929356274.044.11-0.07
138Earnest Jackson19831988105916441673.934.01-0.08
139Lydell Mitchell1972198016755965343.93.98-0.08
140Dave Hampton19691976114814845363.954.03-0.08
141Marion Butts19891995134510051853.863.94-0.08
142Tony Collins19811990119113246473.94-0.1
143Randy McMillan1981198699019838763.924.01-0.1
144Shonn Greene2009201499319641104.144.24-0.1
145Willis McGahee2004201320953384744.044.15-0.11
146Joseph Addai20062011109515844534.074.18-0.11
147Rodney Hampton1990199718244968973.783.9-0.12
148Tyrone Wheatley19952004127011549623.914.03-0.12
149Mike Thomas19751980108715941963.863.98-0.12
150John Riggins19711985291612113523.894.02-0.12
151Tom Matte19611972120012746463.874-0.13
152Darren McFadden20082014103817542474.094.22-0.13
153MacArthur Lane19681978120612346563.864-0.14
154Floyd Little1967197516416363233.854-0.14
155Ed Podolak19691977115714444513.853.99-0.14
156Harold Green19901998115114743653.793.94-0.14
157Mike Rozier19851991115914344623.854-0.15
158Adrian Murrell1993200313759751993.783.93-0.15
159Chuck Foreman1973198015567059503.823.98-0.15
160Larry Brown1969197615307358753.844-0.16
161Wendell Hayes1963197498819937583.83.97-0.17
162Rudi Johnson2001200815177559793.944.11-0.17
163Julius Jones20042010128011350683.964.13-0.17
164John Brockington1971197713479951853.854.02-0.17
165Natrone Means1993200014099252153.73.88-0.18
166Thomas Jones20002011267817105913.954.15-0.2
167Pete Johnson1977198414897956263.783.97-0.2
168Ken Willard1965197416226561053.763.96-0.2
169Antowain Smith1997200517845368813.864.06-0.2
170Alex Webster19551964119612946383.884.09-0.21
171Kevan Barlow20012006102218539843.94.12-0.22
172James Wilder1981199015866760083.794.02-0.23
173Jim Otis19701978116014043503.753.98-0.23
174Rob Carpenter19771986117213543633.723.99-0.27
175Dave Osborn19651976117913343363.683.95-0.27
176Johnny Roland19661973101518837503.693.97-0.28
177Dalton Hilliard19861993112615341643.73.97-0.28
178Mike Alstott1996200613599850883.744.02-0.28
179Altie Taylor19691976117013743083.683.99-0.31
180Edgar Bennett19921999111515639923.583.89-0.31
181Rashard Mendenhall20082013108116042363.924.23-0.31
182Cadillac Williams20052011105516740383.834.15-0.32
183Jim Kiick19681977102918137593.653.99-0.33
184Errict Rhett19942000117413441433.533.87-0.34
185BenJarvus Green-Ellis20082013100819239143.884.23-0.35
186Rickey Young19751983101118936663.633.98-0.36
187Lamar Smith19942003132210448533.674.04-0.37
188Sammy Winder1982199014957854273.634-0.37
189Eddie George19962004286514104413.644.03-0.39
190Anthony Thomas20012007104417138913.734.13-0.4
191Ron Johnson19691975120412443083.584-0.43
192James Jones19831992101019036263.594.02-0.43
193Reggie Cobb19901996106516237433.513.94-0.43
194Bill Brown1961197416496258383.543.98-0.44
195Cedric Benson2005201216006660173.764.2-0.44
196Leonard Russell19911996116413939733.413.88-0.47
197Dick Hoak19611970113215139653.54.01-0.51
198Karim Abdul-Jabbar19962000100419434113.43.93-0.53
199Bill Mathis19601969104417135893.444.01-0.57
200Billy Ray Barnes1957196699419534213.444.1-0.66

I’m not a big fan of yards per rush as the primary measure by which we measure running backs, but it’s still interesting to look at the data (for less-popular measures of running back performance that I do find interesting, click here or here). Barry Sanders really stands out in just about every set of analysis one ever does on running backs, but he also is a huge beneficiary of the era adjustment: while he averaged just 0.03 YPC more than Adrian Peterson, the ’90s was a very different era for running backs. After making that adjustment, Sanders has a +0.30 edge on Peterson in YPC over average.

If you sort by the Rush column or the Rk Rsh column, you get a list of the career leaders in attempts. This is another area where Sanders really stands out: Fred Taylor ranks 23rd in career rushes and 23rd in YPC over league average: he’s the only player besides Sanders in the top 25 in both metrics. Several players — Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, Edgerrin James, John Riggins, Steven Jackson — rank in the top 20 in rush attempts, are in the Hall of Fame or are borderline HOFers, and yet have a career YPC average below league average (which is one of the reasons why YPC is not one of my favorite statistics).

Here’s another way to look at this data: I plotted each of the 200 players in the graph below. The X-axis displays career carries, from about 800 to 4500; the Y-Axis shows YPC relative to league average, from -0.8 to about 1.5

ypc rushes

Pretty interesting: what do you guys think?

Oh, and Billy Ray Barnes? He’s another interesting story. He averaged 3.47 YPC but led the Eagles in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns from ’57 to ’61. But Philadelphia struggled to run the ball during those years, finishing with a 3.54 YPC average, the worst in the NFL. Of course, the Eagles also won the championship in 1960, so these were the glory years for Philadelphia.

  • Kibbles

    I’ve decided that YPC is the RB equivalent of comp%. It’s going to bear some passing correlation to player quality, but any such correlation is largely accidental. It tells us more about the shape and manner of a player’s production than it does about the value. And, like comp%, if you combine it with another flawed stat, (yards per completion for QBs, success rate for RBs), you actually get something that starts to paint a decent picture of a player’s actual contributions. Complete ignorance of volume notwithstanding.

    The problem, though, is people take ypc as a standalone stat capable of measuring quality on its own. Just like they do with comp%, (or its cousin, passer rating, which is basically just AY/A plus an extra shot of comp%).

    • sn0mm1s

      I don’t think so. I know Chase is not a proponent of YPC and here is a post he wrote a while back:

      http://www.footballperspective.com/thoughts-on-running-back-yards-per-carry/

      You can read my response a little ways down. YPC seems to be a pretty good indicator of a HOF caliber RB. And, as I have argued before, I think many of the success rate stats are just as much if not more of a indicator of how good the line is rather than the RB.

      • sacramento gold miners

        It’s nice to have a solid offensive line, but the great backs excel regardless, and we’ve all seen countless examples of backs getting hit early, and driving for extra yardage. Of course, the yards per carry will be affected by backs who were used in short yardage situations. As good as Charles is, he is limited in those situations, and his frame can be a problem. I remember a playoff game against Baltimore when Charles was having his way with that defense. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t take the pounding, and wasn’t a factor in the second half as KC lost.

        • jcomp11

          You’re talking about the 2010 Wild Card round where Charles had an entire two rushing attempts in the second half, both coming on the first drive. That was more about poor play-calling than his frame. I’ve not noticed Charles being used more or less in short yardage situations than he is in any other situation. Might have to go look that up.

          • Topher Doll

            Looking at that Charles is actually a pretty good back in those situations, guess it’s one of those things where perception and reality don’t match up.

        • sn0mm1s

          I am not saying that they don’t excel regardless – though some much more than others when they get that line. I don’t think Holmes, Alexander, or Davis would be nearly as prolific given the lines of some of the other great RBs. Also, YPC won’t be affected that much unless the RB was used primarily in short yardage.

        • Jamei Weston

          His frame isn’t a problem. He consistently puts his head down and runs people over. That Baltimore game he got like 3 carries in the second half. Not his fault, he was on the field nearly every play.KC lost their offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss to a coaching Job at the University of Kansas right beofre that game.

          • sacramento gold miners

            I remember watching that game, it was either late in the first half or early in the second, but Charles was indeed hurt, and wasn’t a factor after that. It was very obvious, and we know backs try to conceal injuries when they occur. I’m not suggesting it was his fault, just the nature of NFL football. Generally speaking, the larger back can withstand more punishment. Charles has a long, long, way to go before we start thinking about the HOF.

            • Jamei Weston

              He wasn’t hurt, I remember the game too. It was 10-7 at half. For some reason stupid Todd Haley went for it on 4th down in the first possession of the 2nd half. Didn’t get it. Bal scored. Next drive Cassel was picked off and Bal scored again. So now they went into panic mode and completely abandoned the running game.

      • Kibbles

        I disagree. YPC is a terrible indicator of a HoF caliber RB. Here’s every RB that’s been elected to the Hall of Fame since 1990, along with where they rank in career ypc by this methodology:
        Jerome Bettis – 132
        Curtis Martin – 119
        Marshall Faulk – 47
        Floyd Little – 154
        Emmitt Smith – 74
        Thurman Thomas – 57
        Barry Sanders – 3
        Marcus Allen – 92
        Eric Dickerson – 31
        Tony Dorsett – 45
        Leroy Kelly – 66
        Walter Payton – 40
        John Riggins – 150
        Earl Campbell – 52
        Franco Harris – 83

        That’s 15 players, and just five of them rank in the top-50, (or the top 25% of the sample). Just one ranks in the top 30. Four of them- including three of the last four- rank below league average for their career.

        I suspect if Chase did a post on career completion percentage above league average, we’d see very similar results. Maybe 1/3rd of HoFers would rank in the top 25%. There’s obviously some relationship with player quality, but it’s weak, because as an indicator of player quality, completion percentage sucks. It measures style of play as much as quality of play. Just like ypc, which is the comp% of RB stats.

        (Or I suppose, if we want to make the analogy look a little neater, we could say that ypc is the “yards per completion” of RB stats, and success rate is the “completion percentage” of RB stats. Both are pretty meaningless on their own because they measure style as much as quality, but that at least compares more similar measurements.)

        • sn0mm1s

          You aren’t taking into account a threshold of carries though. You can have a player with a high YPC average that never makes the HOF because they only get 1000-1500 carries. You give them 2500+, 2800+ carries. Of that group above here is their order based on this metric:

          Barry Sanders
          Eric Dickerson
          Walter Payton
          Tony Dorsett
          Marshall Faulk
          Earl Campbell
          Thurman Thomas
          Leroy Kelly
          Emmitt Smith
          Franco Harris
          Marcus Allen
          Curtis Martin
          Jerome Bettis
          John Riggins
          Floyd Little

          And here is their order in the wisdom of crowds. Kelly and Little didn’t make the cut however the ordering is very similar. Higher YPC at the top, lower at the bottom.

          Barry Sanders
          Walter Payton
          Emmitt Smith
          Eric Dickerson
          Marshall Faulk
          Earl Campbell
          Thurman Thomas
          Tony Dorsett
          Marcus Allen
          Curtis Martin
          Franco Harris
          John Riggins
          Jerome Bettis

  • Ideally, you’d want players with lots of carries and a high YPC, up and to the right of your chart. The guys who form the “outer curve” are Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown — arguably the best four running backs ever — and Charles, who’s unlikely to ever be considered in that company.

    • Andropov

      Charles is not nearly the volume rusher those guys were, and it remains to be seen how he’ll age. However, his per-carry effectiveness and receiving ability could conceivably make him a HOF RB, if not an inner circle like the four mentioned. Peterson seems to be the only current back who can keep up with those guys in both production and, when he’s remembered years from now, mythology.

    • Richie

      I thought you were being a little aggressive in dismissing Charles like that, but then I looked at his PFR page.

      The only player on his comps that is in the HOF is Gale Sayers. He was really good in 2010 and 2012, but unfortunately only had 12 carries in 2011, which probably had a chance to be his peak season had he stayed healthy. I was surprised to see he barely cracked 1,000 yards last year. Basically all of his stats (rate and counting) have been falling the last 2 years. Not good signs for a RB entering his age 29 season.

      He only had one 100+ yard game last year. (But four more of 90+ yards.) He seems to have a pretty strong correlation between number of carries and whether the team wins or loses. Makes me wonder if the Chiefs would be better off if they got Charles the ball a little more even in games they are losing.

      • Clint

        Anybody who watches the Chiefs regularly screams at Andy Reid through the TV “WHY AREN’T YOU GIVING IT TO CHARLES?!?!”
        The Chiefs have won 4 out of 35 career games when Charles had 10 carries or less. One was the Oakland game where he had 8 catches 195 rec. yds and 5tds, two were in ’08 when he wasn’t a starter yet and the other was in ’09 before Larry Johnson was officially gone (he had 20+ carries that game).
        So really, when he gets 10 carries or less, the Chiefs lose.

        • Andropov

          But isn’t that going to be similar to a lot of numbers that people throw out where teams that don’t run the ball lose more often, in that it puts causation in the wrong order?

          • Richie

            Yeah, there is definitely a chicken-or-egg aspect to it. But I think some teams go away from their running game too soon to their own detriment.

            And when you have a passing game that struggles like the Chiefs’ does, it makes even less sense.

            Though, it would be interesting to see, how often teams are able to stick with a roughly equal run/pass ratio while trailing after the first quarter of a game – and still are able to win. In other words, how successful are teams at coming back (even from a 2nd-quarter deficit) to win a game while continuing to run the ball?

            • Andropov

              I would guess that’s really only true for teams with a miserable passing offense and a very good running game (maybe the Vikings for the past few years?). Running the ball is simply inherently slower, and it’s hard to come back when you can’t score quickly.

              • Richie

                That depends on the deficit and time remaining. If you are down by 10 in the 2nd quarter, there is still plenty of time remaining to run the ball.

                • Andropov

                  I also don’t know that Charles needs to be running more. Generally speaking, a greater volume of rushing attempts reduces efficiency, not to mention increasing the chances of injury. And the less mileage he racks up, the better, as far as his longevity goes (probably). I’m not prepared to say that Charles definitely needs to be getting more carries.

          • Clint

            My point was that Jamaal Charles doesn’t regularly get the ball enough.. especially with Lexi Smith at quarterback.
            Often times though, the more you run the ball, the better chance you have of winning.
            Very random example: In 2013, Willis McGahee had 20+ rushing attempts twice. 26 att 72 yards one game and 21 att 31 yds in the other. The Browns won both of those games, and 4 for the year. Norv Turner credited the running plays as a reason we won. Even though it was pitiful, it was still something else they had to defend. The defense has to play a more balanced personnel if they think you’re going to run the ball.
            Often times, the more rushing attempts a player has, the higher their team’s win % is. It’s hard to find that same correlation with passing attampts. This is hardly an exact science though.

            • Richie

              Yes, there is correlation, but the correlation runs the opposite direction. This is the original tenet of Football Outsiders. They found that you run when you are winning, not that running leads to winning. But, a successful passing game relies on at least a little bit of misdirection with the running game. If a team passed 100% of the time, that probably wouldn’t work.

              However, I agree with you that there are times when teams just don’t run enough. Andy Reid is kind of famous from his days in Philly for passing the ball seemingly more than he should. And when you have a guy like Charles, maybe you are better off running the ball just a little bit more.

              • Clint

                I agree with you in that there I don’t think there’s a direct correlation between rushing attempts and winning, but I do think there’s a correlation between Jamaal Charles’s rushing attempts and losing. Haha. They’ve only won 4 out of 35 games he’s had 10 carries or less.. and of those 4 he only started 1 and had 195 rec. yards and 5 tds in that game. I know I already stated that, but it’s pretty crazy to me.

      • A more modern comp might be someone like Robert Smith. Blazing speed, great YPC (4.8), but got injured a lot early in his career and then, when he was healthy enough to play full seasons, retired. Even if he’d played another 5 years or so and tacked on 5,000 or so rushing yards, giving him ~12,000 for his career, I think we’d remember him as very good, like Tomlinson, Faulk, Martin, and the like, but maybe not the absolute best of the best.

        I think that’s Charles’ ceiling. Through their age-28 seasons (when Smith retired), they have almost the exact same rushing totals — Charles has 38 more yards — though Charles has the advantage with almost 1,000 more receiving yards.

  • sn0mm1s

    I pretty much did this exact same thing around 2006/7ish (when PFR let you download all their stats). I removed QB rush yards though (since I am pretty sure sack yardage has been tallied differently over the course of NFL history) and I removed the player who is being focused on rushing yards. For example, if I was looking at Sanders I would remove his rushing yards from the NFL from 1989-1998 along with QB rush yards. That said, the numbers you have are very similar. I also did this and compared the player to his teammates. Terrell Davis looks great using the metric above but not as great when you realize that his teammates average 4.33 YPC over the same time frame (for a significant # of carries too).

    I then took a counting stat approach and took the # of carries and multiplied it by their expected value vs. what they actually averaged vs. the NFL and their teammates. Basically (# carries)*(diff) vs the NFL and teammates. Barry Sanders blew people out of the water with this because he was so much better for so many more carries.

    • Richie

      FWIW, Charles is just about a year younger than his PFR age. His birthday is 4 days before the cutoff that would make him a year younger for each of those seasons.

    • sn0mm1s

      I took your results and wanted to get a simple balance between YPC and longevity. I took a RBs actual production and then added (or subtracted if negative) carries * diff. The top 15 RBs looked like:

      Emmitt Smith 19192.71
      Barry Sanders 18484.1
      Walter Payton 18107.68
      Jim Brown 15001.26
      Eric Dickerson 14517.32
      LaDainian Tomlinson 14223.58
      Curtis Martin 14030.64
      Tony Dorsett 13766.6
      Jerome Bettis 13488.05
      Marshall Faulk 13243.24
      Fred Taylor 12987.34
      O.J. Simpson 12846.68
      Thurman Thomas 12822.02
      Marcus Allen 12484.76
      Franco Harris 12473.88

  • Jeffrey Smith

    can you plot the data for each RB as a histogram where the y axis is yards gained (eg, 1,2 5, 30 etc), and the X-axis is which carry it was in the game…as in first, second, third. It would be interesting to know who got better as he wore down the defense and who just took off like a bat out of hell at the outset of the game. If you have data of this type send me