Because I am an enormous narcissist, I wondered if I could find the very first article I ever wrote. And I did. While I doubt anyone visiting the site today wants to read an article by a first-time writer from the summer of 2002, if you do, here is my article discussing the fantasy relevance of a defense when ranking running backs. Here is the intro:
Being the most important position in fantasy football, running backs are analyzed and examined from just about every angle. Most fantasy footballers can tell you who slumped in the 2nd half, who had a great ypc, and who had a ton of “fluky” TDs last year that won’t likely happen again. One factor a lot of owners look into is the defense of a RB. Logic dictates that the RBs on good defenses are like gold mines: see Eddie George the past few years, Jamal Lewis and A-Train when their teams Ds had breakout seasons, and the original superstar of modern fantasy football, Emmitt Smith. 4 straight years as the number 1 RB, and his team’s D was in the top 5 all 4 years. Teams with great Ds are notorious for pounding the ball late in game, running a lot early in games(so as to not throw interceptions, and win the battle of field position and win it with your defense), and basically pad your RBs stats. While some put more weight than others on the importance of a strong D(some view it as very important, others as a deciding factor between 2 backs they rate similarly), it appears the correct weight to put on a defense when evaluating a RB is 0. Zilch. Nothing. Meaningless. Let’s take a look at last year:
RB Yards DPA DPYA DRYA TDs Year DTR Holmes 1555 23 13 27 8 2001 21 Martin 1513 12 5 28 10 2001 15 S. Davis 1432 13 3 20 5 2001 12 Green 1387 5 15 16 9 2001 12 Faulk 1382 7 10 3 12 2001 7 Alexander 1318 18 23 15 14 2001 19 Dillon 1315 14 14 11 10 2001 13 Williams 1245 27 20 14 6 2001 20 Tomlinson 1236 16 19 19 10 2001 18 Hearst 1206 9 18 9 4 2001 12 Avg 1359 14 14 16 9 15
Yards is the rushing yards, DPA is the POINTS ALLOWED RANK by that RBs defense, DPYA and DRYA are the rank that RBs team fared in Passing and Rushing yards allowed respectively, and TDs are rushing TDs for that RB. DTR is the average of the 3 defensive categories. The top 2 RBs last year were on teams with defenses who were in the bottom 5 of the league against the run. Using “common theory’, one would figure that teams that can’t stop the run, can’t control the clock, get behind early, and have to pass more. Those who backed off on Holmes and Martin due to their poor Ds(and Stephen Davis included) missed out. On average, the top 10 rushers in the league had well, average defenses. Middle of the pack in terms of points allowed, rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed. Is this a one year trend?
I think it was Doug Drinen who once said if you don’t look at something you wrote five years ago and cringe, then you aren’t improving as a writer. For ten years old, this article seems to hold up okay although it could certainly use some editing. Fortunately, the conclusion is cringe-inducing enough for me to be convinced that I have improved from my first piece to my last.