Thoughts on Running Back Yards per Carry

July 23, 2014 Rushing

Regular readers know that I’m skeptical of using “yards per carry” to evaluate running backs. That’s because YPC is not very consistent from year to year. But it’s also not consistent even within the same year. For example, In 2013, Giovani Bernard rushed 92 times for 291 yards in even-numbered games last year, producing a […]

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The Best Adjusted Rushing Teams of All Time

July 18, 2014 Rushing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a list of the best rushing teams in 2013 using Adjusted Yards per Carry. That metric, you may recall, is calculated as follows: Rushing Yards + 20*RushingTDs + 9*RushingFirstDowns We can use the same formula to grade every team across history. To account for era and quantity (having […]

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The Rashard Mendenhall/Andre Ellington Time Share Part II

July 17, 2014 History

In November, I wrote about the unique running back by committee taking place in Arizona. At the time, Rashard Mendenhall was averaging 3.1 yards per carry, while backup Andre Ellington was averaging 7.2 yards per rush on 54 carries. I thought it would be fun to revisit the Ellington/Mendenhall time share now that the season […]

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Is Chris Johnson Better than Chris Ivory?

July 16, 2014 Rushing

Over the last three years, Chris Johnson has rushed 817 times for 3,367 yards, a 4.12 yards per carry average. Over the last three years, the Jets have had running back seasons where a rusher recorded at least 150 carries: Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory in 2013, and Shonn Greene in both 2011 and 2012. […]

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Rushing EPA and Yards per Carry

July 15, 2014 Rushing

Today I want to look at how traditional rushing statistics compare to rushing Expected Points Added, one of the main stats used over at Advanced Football Analytics. In my analysis, I used the EPA numbers for each team in each season from 2002 to 2013. Stickiness from year to year Yards per carry is not […]

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Examining the variation in rushing throughout NFL history

July 8, 2014 Rushing

There is no doubt that in modern times, passing is king. But until pretty recently, we were at the peak level in NFL history with respect to individual rushing performance. On the team level, rushing production ebbed and flows, with high points in the late ’40s, mid-’50s, and mid-’70s, but on the individual level, the […]

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Analyzing the rushing stats of each team in 2013

July 6, 2014 Rushing

A couple of weeks ago, Brian Burke of Advanced Football Analytics (formerly Advanced NFL Stats) wrote a great post on the value of a first down. From that post, we concluded that the marginal value of a first down is 9 yards, and we’ve previously determined that the marginal value of a touchdown is 20 […]

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Steven Jackson and Running Back Records

July 2, 2014 Rushing

One of my very first posts at Football Perspective looked at the weighted career winning percentages of various running backs. You can calculate a player’s weighted career winning percentage in lots of ways, but here’s what I did: Calculate the percentage of yards from scrimmage a running back gained in each season as a percentage […]

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Trivia: Single-Season Leaders in Net Rushing Yards

June 22, 2014 Rushing

At the end of my Seahawks-Saints playoff preview, I came up with (what I thought was) a pretty neat bit of trivia: New Orleans gained 4918 passing yards and allowed only 3105 passing yards. That 1813 yard difference is largest by any NFL team in history. The 1961 Oilers, led by George Blanda, Bill Groman, […]

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A Starting Point for Running Back Projections in 2014 (FBG)

May 31, 2014 Fantasy

Last year, I provided a starting point for my running back projections. The idea is pretty simple: some fantasy statistics are much more repeatable, or sticky, than others. Over at Footballguys.com, I used the following formula to help isolate those factors: 1) Rushing Yards (R^2 = 0.47). The best-fit formula to predict rushing yards is: […]

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Trivia: Rushing Yards with Multiple Franchises

May 25, 2014 Rushing

Only two players in NFL history have ever rushed for 5,000 yards with two teams. Can you name either of them? Here’s a couple of hints for the only player to rush for 5,300+ yards with two different teams. Here’s a couple of hints for the other player: One other player was really, really close. […]

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Declining Running Back Value in the Draft

May 20, 2014 Draft

Running backs had a very rough time on the open market this year. To be fair, other than perhaps Chris Johnson, the market was full of question marks, platoon guys, or second stringers. And while players like Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew were big names, they were devalued because of the “tread on their tires.” After […]

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Percentage of Team Rushing Yards by Running Back

April 25, 2014 History

Peyton Manning’s time in Indianapolis was peppered with record-breaking moments that have been very well-publicized. But a relatively unknown record occurred during the nascent days of the Manning Era. In 1999, Edgerrin James rushed for 1,553 yards, an impressive accomplishment in any era. But here’s what’s really crazy: Manning was second in the team in […]

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Running backs getting shorter and heavier

April 20, 2014 History

In December, I noted that fewer rushing yards are coming from first round picks. That’s a trend that seems very likely to continue in 2014, and perhaps for the foreseeable future. As it turns out, running backs are also getting shorter and heavier. LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, Frank Gore, Knowshon Moreno, Zac Stacy, DeAngelo Williams, […]

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2014 Running Back Free Agent Market

April 12, 2014 Current Events

The free agent running back market has been as peculiar as it’s been quiet. There have been no big contracts doled out and only a few sizable ones of note, although some of the ensuing narrative about the demise of the running back position has been overblown. Today I want to look at the ten […]

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A closer look at running back aging patterns Part II

March 20, 2014 Fantasy

Two years ago, I wrote this post on running back aging curves. One conclusion from my research was that age 26 was the peak age for running backs, which was immediately followed by a steady decline phase until retirement. In that study, I only wanted to look at very good-to-excellent running backs in the modern […]

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How Bad Was Ray Rice in 2013?

March 15, 2014 Rushing

The 2013 season was a disaster for Ray Rice, and 2014 isn’t off to a very good start, either. Last season, Rice carried 214 times for just 660 yards and four touchdowns, producing an anemic 3.1 yards per carry average. On November 9th, I asked whether Rice was already washed up; at the time it […]

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Adrian Peterson’s 2012 Season Lacked Some Juice

February 14, 2014 Rushing

When I went on the Advanced NFL Stats Podcast in late December, I discussed my use of Z-scores to measure the Seattle pass defense. Host Dave Collins asked me if I was planning on using Z-scores to measure other things, like say, Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season. I told him that would be an interesting idea […]

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Fewer Rushing Yards Are Coming From High Draft Picks

December 21, 2013 History

In 1990, there were 22 running backs who rushed for at least 700 yards. Of those players, Barry Sanders, Ottis Anderson, Sammie Smith, John L. Williams, Emmitt Smith, John Stephens, Lorenzo White, James Brooks, Cleveland Gary, and Neal Anderson were former first round picks. In addition, Bobby Humphrey, Mike Rozier, and Kevin Mack were selected […]

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The Rashard Mendenhall-Andre Ellington Time Share is Unique

November 16, 2013 History

Arizona is one of many teams in the NFL employing a running back by committee philosophy, but no team — now, or at any point in modern history — allocated time quite like the Cardinals. Through nine weeks, Rashard Mendenhall has 105 rushes for 323 yards, giving him a miniscule 3.1 yards per carry average. […]

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Is Ray Rice Already Washed Up?

November 9, 2013 History

In many ways, the post-Ray Lewis Ravens have flown under the radar. The defending Super Bowl champions are just 3-5, thanks mostly to a mediocre offense. But unless you have Ray Rice on your fantasy team, you probably haven’t noticed just how rough a season the star running back is having. Of course, “Ray Rice” […]

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Chris Johnson is the career leader in average length of rushing touchdown

November 1, 2013 Rushing

Not too surprising, I suppose. This includes all rushing touchdowns, including in the postseason, but does not include rushing touchdowns for 2013, not that it matters very much for Chris Johnson. :rimshot: All players with at least 30 rushing touchdowns are included since 1940. Tweet

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Trent Richardson and 400 carries

October 26, 2013 Fantasy

Trent Richardson has been a frequent topic of discussion at Football Perspective. In about 14 months, I’ve written the following articles: How often does the first running back selected in the draft become the best running back from his class? The field is always a better bet than one player: Only about 40% of the […]

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Yards per Carry and Points per Drive

September 10, 2013 Rushing

I’ve written a couple of times about “yards per carry” as a key statistic to grade running backs. The usual argument in favor of using YPC is that a running back who rushes for 1200 yards on 300 carries is less valuable, all else being equal, than one who rushes for 1200 yards on 250 […]

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How much will Terrelle Pryor help Darren McFadden?

September 1, 2013 History

The 2012 Raiders weren’t very good. Oakland finished last season 4-12, with the third-worst SRS rating (-10.8) in the NFL. And the outlook isn’t any better for 2013, either. Oakland has fifty million dollars of dead cap space; as a result, the players on the current roster cost the team only 67 million salary cap […]

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Examining Games with More than 15 Carries

August 12, 2013 Random Perspective On

Running back workload is a very difficult topic to tackle, and I don’t expect to make much of an indent into the subject today. But I do want to take a few minutes and look at some ways to measure heavy workloads. One school of thought is that the effect of carries is cumulative: Not […]

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The Biggest Fluke Fantasy Seasons Ever (Part II)

August 10, 2013 Fantasy

Yesterday, I set up a method for ranking the flukiest fantasy football seasons since the NFL-AFL merger, finding players who had elite fantasy seasons that were completely out of step with the rest of their careers. I highlighted fluke years #21-30, so here’s a recap of the rankings thus far: 30. Lorenzo White, 1992 29. […]

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Can Adrian Peterson break Emmitt Smith’s rushing record?

August 3, 2013 Random Perspective On

Two house-keeping notes before we get to today’s post. First, today’s a pretty big day for our friend Neil Paine: he’s getting married. I’ll be there to celebrate with him in Philadelphia, but I know you guys will be with us in spirit. Congrats to Kaitlyn and Neil! And another set of confetti must be […]

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Yards per Carry, Net Yards per Attempt, and Regression to the Mean

July 20, 2013 Passing

Last week, I wrote about why I was not concerned with Trent Richardson’s yards per carry average last season. I like using rushing yards because rush attempts themselves are indicators of quality, although it’s not like I think yards per carry is useless — just overrated. One problem with YPC is that it’s not very […]

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Why Trent Richardson’s 3.6 YPC average does not matter

July 10, 2013 Rookies

Just about every article about Trent Richardson references his unimpressive 3.6 yards per carry average from last season. That stat is pretty meaningless, in my opinion. I suppose if you took a random running back from NFL history, and his YPC average in one random season was 3.6, and I knew nothing else about the […]

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