Running Back Efficiency
Throughout the season, I’ll provide regular updates about the fantasy efficiency of running backs. Here’s the report for Week 2. For a full explanation of terms and methods, see here. The table at the end of the article provides fully sortable and searchable results. First some commentary.
- Bobby Rainey earned 73 percent of Tampa Bay’s rush attempts in Week 2, along with a solid 15 percent of team pass targets. Even better, he produced above expectations in both rushing and passing. Doug Martin better perform well when he returns to action, or Rainey might just keep this job. This week’s opponent, Atlanta, has been the league’s easiest against RBs. Rainey may be worth playing even if Martin does as well.
- Despite Darren Sproles‘ awesome week, LeSean McCoy still earned over 70 percent of the team rushing attempts, and a healthy 13.5 percent of targets. No need to worry about his outlook.
- Knile Davis had a huge workload and was efficient as a runner, but had rather negative numbers as a receiver. He was below par last season as well, so this could cap his upside in two ways: First, by limiting his own receiving totals, and second, by killing drives and limiting possessions. This week’s opponent, Miami, has so far been effective against opposing RBs. Davis is a must-keep player though as long as Jamaal Charles is out, so if you missed out on him on waivers, perhaps a poor game might make him easier to acquire.
- Darren McFadden took over 70 percent of Oakland’s rushing attempts, and produced above-expected level points as both a runner and receiver. We’re all anxious to see the Latavious Murray show, but McFadden shouldn’t be forgotten.
- Poor Toby Gerhart. He still took 70 percent of the carries, and he still produced at less than expected levels. To be fair, he was less inefficient this week than last, so . . . progress? Hopefully he can get on track against the Colts, who have been forgiving to opposing RBs so far this season.
- Bill Belichick Belichicking. Stevan Ridley got two-thirds of the rushing attempts this week, and was efficient with them. Shane Vereen got the same amount of pass targets as James Develin, and was less effective. My only advice is to check the lines and if it looks like New England should control the game, play Ridley. If it looks competitive, start Vereen.
- Giovani Bernard is really a receiver, maybe. He did get 60 percent of the rushing attempts, but more importantly he got over 26 percent of the pass targets. That’s WR1 levels. As long as Marvin Jones and A.J. Green are limited, expect that to continue. I’m interested to see if there will be any dropoff once they return to action.
- Bernard Pierce earned negative marks as both a rusher and receiver. Justin Forsett was under par as a runner, and broke even as a receiver. Someone get Lorenzo Taliaferro in the huddle.
- Andre Ellington is above water as a rusher, but sinking as a receiver. He also has barely 50 percent of the Cardinals’ rushing attempts. On a points/snap basis, he’s the 42nd-best RB. Woof. Jonathan Dwyer saw an uptick in his rushing market share in Week 2, but didn’t record a target. I wouldn’t abandon Ellington yet, but I’m concerned.
- Steven Jackson got over 50 percent of the attempts and had positive marks both running and receiving. Jacquizz Rodgers was the clear backup in this game, as neither Devonta Freeman or Antone Smith recorded an attempt.
- Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller finished with the same amount of rushing attempts, but Jackson received a bigger chunk of the pass targets. Spiller was more efficient in both areas however, so perhaps things are trending in his direction.
- Jonathan Stewart earned over 60 percent of the attempts in DeAngelo Williams’ absence. He was also above-par as both a rusher and receiver, which is noteworthy, as Detroit’s defense is very good against RBs (just two of their last 10 opponents have mustered over 100 yards rushing as a team). If Williams remains limited, or is out again, Stewart makes a decent desperation play, depending on matchup.
- Neither Cleveland RB is involved in the pass game, so that caps the upside, but through two games, including one where the game plan was specific to these two backs, Terrance West has taken two-thirds of the rushing attempts to just one-third for Isaiah Crowell. West has also been efficient. In Week 2, his ruFPOE was in the top 10, and his ruFPOEPA was top 15. He’s the back to own in Cleveland.
- Joique Bell received 22 percent of the pass targets against Carolina. Reggie Bush? Just six percent. Hopefully that was just the result of some sort of demented game plan and not a season-long trend. I love Bell, and he’s a capable receiver, but to not make more use of Bush seems wrong. Through two games, Bell has a 55 percent market share of rush attempts, vs. just 31 percent for Bush. That’s a complete flip from last year, when Bush had a 58 to 38 percent edge.
- Alfred Blue earned 24 percent of Houston’s rushing attempts, and performed at par. He seems to be the preferred backup to Arian Foster.
- Trent Richardson had a decent game (if you forget about the fumble)! Ahmad Bradshaw had a better game! Rinse, repeat! Through two games, Bradshaw has a better than expected 30 percent market share of rush attempts, and a 13 percent to six percent lead in targets. Bradshaw leads the league in RB reFPOE, and he’s in the top 35 in ruFPOE.
- He performed sub-par across the board, but it seems like Minnesota will have to get Jerick McKinnon more involved now that Adrian Peterson appears to be out indefinitely. Matt Asiata wasn’t awful, however. He was essentially neutral on a per-attempt basis. Of course, going from “Adrian Peterson” to “league average” isn’t a good thing for the offense, but Asiata has been OK.
- Mark Ingram had a higher target market share than Pierre Thomas this week. That’s not a good sign. Of course, Ingram is out for a while, so Thomas should again see a higher share of both pass targets and rush attempts.
- So far, I’m completely wrong on Darren Sproles. I figured he would have flex utility. But through two games, he’s gotten a full quarter of Philadelphia’s rush attempts and 16 percent share of targets. That percentage of pass targets trails only Bernard, Matt Forte, and Le’Veon Bell.
- Speaking of Bell, through two games he has 70 percent of Pittsburgh’s rush attempts and 17 percent of their pass targets. There is no time share. Among RBs, he’s third in reFPOE and seventh in ruFPOE.
- Frank Gore had a 3-to-1 edge in rush attempts vs Carlos Hyde, and was above par in his efforts, while Hyde was below par.
- Ditto Zac Stacy vs. Benny Cunningham.
- Shonn Greene has been solidly above par as a rusher, as has Dexter McCluster. The workload is relatively close too, with Greene holding a 39 to 26 percent edge. McCluster is also the only Tennessee back to have any pass targets, albeit only three. McCluster might be the back to own in Tennessee. Bishop Sankey may not be. I’m still holding, but not for much longer in redraft.
- I covered this earlier, but I wouldn’t worry about Alfred Morris with Kirk Cousins under center.
Setting the Table
Week Two RB Fantasy Points Over Expectation