Top 10 Takeaways from Week 4: The RB Opportunity Report

Running Back Efficiency

Throughout the season, I’ll provide regular updates about the fantasy efficiency of running backs. Here’s the report for Week 4. For a full explanation of terms and methods, see here. Also be sure to check out the Efficiency App, which provides all of the numbers for this piece.

Which RBs over or under performed this week? Who’s on the rise, and who’s fading fast? Let’s dive in.

Opportunity & Efficiency

  • Ten running backs earned more than 60 percent of their team’s rushing attempts this week. The most interesting: Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, Darren McFadden, Chris Ivory, and Khiry Robinson. The big workload given to Martin suggests that Bobby Rainey may stay on the outside looking in. A new quarterback in Buffalo could help the Bills’ offense. If Spiller keeps a disproportionate share of the workload, he could benefit the most. For what it’s worth, McFadden is the RB to own in Oakland–he has a top 20 workload for the season. Robinson may lose his role once Mark Ingram returns for injury. But what’s becoming clear is that Pierre Thomas’ role is in decline. Alfred Morris produced a whopping 7.8 points above expectation for the week–second only to DeMarco Murray’s staggering 17.2 above par – showing that Morris can sometimes be productive value despite game script problems.
  • Chris Ivory, in a bit of a surprise, had over 15 percent of the Jets’ targets as well, ahead of Chris Johnson. Despite being below par as a receiver, he’s been above par as a runner, and Ivory’s role as both a runner and receiver has grown each week. He appears to be slowly eliminating Johnson’s role.
  • Bishop Sankey posted the week’s third-best per-attempt rushing score, and sixth-best per-attempt receiving score. His workload is increasing each week.
  • The week’s second-most valuable workload, based on total Expected Points, went to Matt Asiata. We should no longer be surprised. We might be surprised though to learn that Darrin Reaves had the week’s 13th-most valuable workload. He finished below expectations both rushing and receiving, but could get more opportunities in an injury riddled backfield.
  • Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett had similar rushing attempt market shares, but Forsett was more productive with his, and also got some pass game usage. Bernard Pierce on the other hand wasn’t used at all. Forsett appears to be the back with the most consistent and game-script immune role, and Taliaferro seems to have passed Pierce on the depth chart.
  • Matt Forte got a huge workload again, but was under par rushing and essentially neutral receiving. Starting to get worried.
  • Toby Gerhart is clinging to his job by a shoelace. Or something like that. Denard Robinson had a similar rushing market share and a bigger receiving market share than Gerhart this week.
  • Both Kansas City backs were very effective this week, but Jamaal Charles remains the superior passing game asset. Still, if you’re Kansas City, is there any reason you don’t just stick with a committee backfield so you can get Knile Davis in the game too?
  • Darren Sproles’ expected points by week: 9.7, 7.7, 4.6, 4.4. Sproles’ points over expectation per week: 6.8, 19.6, 1.9, -2.4. Timber!
  • Branden Oliver should get more opportunities to take Donald Brown’s job. With similar rushing workloads, Oliver performed closer to par than Brown, and was much more effective in the pass game.

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