revolutionary tools.  groundbreaking articles.  proven results.

Know When to Hold ‘Em

oldman

Via ESPN Inside Slant | Running back cliff after age 27

The red line represents all running backs who have played at least four NFL seasons since 2001, with a minimum average of 75 carries per season. Overall, we see their careers peak at age 27. Afterward, their rushing totals drop by 15 percent in one year, 25 percent in two and almost 40 by the time they are 30.

Recently, ESPN published this article on RB production trying to make sense of the lack of free agency buzz for the running back market. One thing I found interesting is that this article points out that RBs tend to peak in production right before their rookie contracts expire. That dovetails nicely with my first ever blurb about contract year production. The data cited there hinted that player performance rolled off when they switched teams (or coaching staffs). In this case, I’d speculate that perhaps the best RBs sign extensions and continue being productive past their age 27 season while others become free agents, switch teams and see a decline leading to the overall shape of this graph. That’s just idle speculation; the takeaway is that players inevitably decline in production. You heard it here first.

This is a nice segway to a series of articles that I think every dynasty owner should have bookmarked. Austin Lee at Pro Football Focus performed similar age vs performance analysis of all positions way back in the 2012 offseason. That’s important to note when you read the names in these articles. These projections were made before the start of the 2012 season. Here is his analysis of quarterbacks, wide receivers, and a two parter on running backs. There’s also a study on age vs performance for tight ends, but that one is behind their PFF Gold paywall because apparently that’s where they draw the line on giving away the milk for free.

You can see similar age curves in a couple of my favorite rotoviz articles from last offseason that project player performance beyond N+1. The multi-year RB and multi-year WR projections show what a player’s comps did projecting forward. Note that younger players tend to see some small increase before their decline while older players tend to see annual reductions in their projection.

Each of these sets of analysis on player age use slightly different performance metrics and cut-offs for inclusion in their data set. There’s no reason to get too caught up in the specific results. Just recognize that all players have a performance peak and it may occur earlier than you expect. A lot of owners may see this and immediately seek to trade their stars that just hit their position-specific age peak. I’m not an advocate for that.

While players are unlikely to maintain their peak performance level (you only have your best season once after all), the performance roll off for most positions is gradual and allows players to dutifully benefit your fantasy roster even as they move past their prime. It’s exciting to find the next big thing but understand that you may be giving up solid production on an upside gamble. 85% of really good is still pretty good. While these older players may not have the upside of their younger counterparts, they do have the benefit of being a surer bet to achieve their expected result provided that you understand how age will temper those expectations.

Even at RB, there’s no need to panic over age.

Find An article
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

recent and related...

in case you missed it...

Contract Year RBs: Fantasy Appeal of the Walk Year Stars

  We’re back again to offer our thoughts on prominent contract year players at one of the fantasy footballs most important positions, namely running back. Yes, I know the popular theory is that they don’t matter. But getting a good one can be the reason you take home a fantasy

Read More

3 Deep Sleepers RotoViz Likes More Than You

  Being player agnostic is one of the best edges you can find in fantasy football in 2019 — don’t fall in love with a player, fall in love with his price. With the suite of RotoViz tools, finding this year’s most mispriced players is easier than ever, so let’s

Read More

When The Devy Breaks: Mock Draft Breakdown

  Last week I took part in a devy mock draft hosted by Greg Brandt from over at Devy Watch. It was a 12-team, PPR scoring, non-Superflex draft with a player pool consisting of 2020, 2021, and 2022 eligible prospects. Two of my fellow RotoViz writers, Travis May and Matt

Read More

Tips for a Successful Dynasty Startup Draft

  There are a lot of ways to win in dynasty. Some dynasty owners will plan on losing the first few years while building “dream team” rosters. Others tend to overly focus on youth and/or highly touted rookies. There’s also the “get your guy” owner who will undoubtedly reach for

Read More
Connect
Support

rotovizmain@gmail.com

Sign-up today for our free Premium Email subscription!

© 2019 RotoViz. All rights Reserved.