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How Old is Too Old for a Fantasy Running Back?

The following is a repost from FantasyDouche.com.

I’ve posted before on the effects that age might have wide receivers and coaches.  I’ve even posted on running backs, although I looked at running back yards/carry rather than any fantasy football measure.  Based on a request from @vote4parag on Twitter I took a look at running backs from a fantasy standpoint.

The graph below is the result of that analysis.  I looked at each running back relative to their career peak.  That’s an important point.  I’m not measuring each running back against every other running back.  I’m only comparing each guy with his career peak in terms of fantasy points/game.

Running backs basically peak when they’re 23-25.  The age of 24 seems to be the absolute peak.

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Once again, these are just averages.  Not every back is going to conform to the average.

For purposes of actionable fantasy intelligence, how should we think about these results?  I don’t think you should be looking to get out of every 25+ year old back on your roster.  First, if you have a running back that catches passes, I think those are the backs you shouldn’t be pushing the eject button on.  Those guys will stay relevant longer.  I would be worried about any 26-ish back who gets most of his points from the running game and is also nearing the dreaded 4 yards per carry mark.  The other thing to think about is the fact that 80% of a stud running back (that’s the expectation at 29 years old) is often better than 100% of a 24 year old running back who might be unproven.

Because people always respond to examples better than they do to generalizations, here are the career graphs of a few running backs.  I show the trend for all backs so that you can see how each guy’s career arc differs a little from the average.

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