The Value of a Pass Catching Running Back

If you’ve had some time to play around with the running back similarity score app, you may have noticed that pass catching running backs tend to look a little bit better on a year over year change basis.  They tend not to fall off as much as running backs that have acquired all of their points in the running game.  To illustrate this trend we can look at the YOY change graphs for Doug Martin’s comps and Alfred Morris’ comps.

Doug Martin Comp YOY Change Graph

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Alfred Morris Comp YOY Change Graph

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You can see that Martin’s comps maintained more of their fantasy scoring on average than Morris’ comps.  Because both guys are young (which means that their comps should be younger also) we can be relatively certain that it’s not an age related difference we’re looking at.

The most obvious explanation for the robustness of the year to year scoring that we see from pass catching backs is that they are game plan proof.  They don’t require a lead from their team in order to score.  Running backs who acquire their points on the ground can become quickly obsolete when their teams fall behind.  I suspect there is also just a pure usage component to this trend as well.  The points that pass catching backs acquire through receptions probably indicate a desire by their teams to get them the ball by any means necessary.