Running Back Efficiency
Throughout the season, I’ll provide regular updates about the fantasy efficiency of running backs. Here’s the report for Week 10. 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. In an effort to stay focused, I’m offering 10 takeaways that stood out to me. But there are more; the App is your key to unlocking them.
Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny.
— Bob Marley
Two more weeks until the fantasy playoffs start. Are you in? Out? On the cusp? Are there RBs you can target, avoid, start, or sit that will affect your playoff destiny? Yes. You must choose – but choose wisely.
- In Denver, Ronnie Hillman was lost to injury, and C.J. Anderson more than picked up the slack. He posted the week’s second highest total points over expectation and was well above par as both a runner and receiver. Anderson got more coverage in our Weekly Waiver Wire Report. Personally I’m avoiding Anderson. Rotoworld reports that Montee Ball is due back this week, and Denver has the second-worst RB schedule over the next four games. Bad schedule, returning starter this week, and return of Hillman in two weeks, creating a potential 3-way backfield?1 I’ll pass.
- Damien Williams performed well against Detroit. The key words of course are “against Detroit.” Williams actually got more carries than either Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas. Although he finished below-par, he performed better than the other two Miami RBs. On a very small number of targets he also did better as a receiver than Miller. Williams may offer some intrigue in dynasty leagues, but I’ll likewise pass on him. Miller should get the majority of the work once his shoulder feels better, Daniel Thomas is still involved, and Miami has the absolute worst RB schedule for the next four weeks.
- In this week’s Backfield Report, Matthew Freedman expresses hope that Mark Ingram will continue to be the lead back in New Orleans. More work seems to suit Ingram just fine. Here’s his rushing performance by year.
M.Ingram ruATTS ruATTMS ruEP ruFPOE ruFPOEPA 2011 122 0.467 55.75 21.65 0.18 2012 156 0.422 68.02 22.18 0.14 2013 78 0.298 37.17 7.43 0.1 2014 115 0.657 61.38 29.72 0.26
Maybe he’s just getting better with age. But there’s a direct relationship between his market share of rushing attempts and his per-attempt efficiency. With Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas still injured, the Saints have signed…Brian Leonard. Ingram remains a top end RB for the foreseeable future, with a great matchup this week against Cincinnati.
- The Bengals looked awful last week. Despite that, Jeremy Hill was still above par from a rushing efficiency perspective. I expect to use him in my lineups this week. Giovani Bernard still isn’t practicing, and the Saints present a favorable matchup from a RB perspective. Justin Bailey has more in his daily fantasy football cash game strategy article.
- Once again, Theo Riddick outperformed Reggie Bush as a receiving threat out of the backfield. In Detroit’s last two games, Riddick has 15 targets. That’s five more than all other Detroit RBs combined. It’s more than all but three RBs have over the past three weeks. Okay, 12 of those came in Week 8. But still. For the season, Riddick’s 0.84 reFPOPT easily beats Bush’s -0.10. In fact, for all RBs with more than 10 targets this season, only Antone Smith records a higher per-target number. Riddick is a player I’m adding everywhere I can and using in larger leagues and lineups. After a touch matchup against Arizona this week, Detroit has one of the most favorable RB schedules for the rest of the season. What about Bush? Of course it’s possible he reclaims his role. But the trend is definitely not in his favor. In the first four games of the season, Bush had 39 carries (9.75/game) and posted a 0.14 per attempt efficiency score. In the last five games he’s had just 14 attempts (2.8/game) and posted a -0.07 score. As a receiver, he posts a similar split. In the first four games Bush recorded 23 pass targets and a -0.07 per target score. Since then, just 12 targets and a -0.16 score. I’m willing to roll the dice on Riddick remaining the pass catching back.
- Andre Williams handled over 75 percent of the Giants’ rushing attempts last week, and posted a solid 0.21 per attempt score. But Rashad Jennings is expected back this week. Theoretically, Williams is worth a redraft hold in case Jennings isn’t able to stay healthy. But New York has one of the worst remaining RB schedules, and Williams is a non-factor in the pass game. I’m dropping him where I need to add players at other positions. On the other hand, I’m still holding and looking to cheaply acquire Williams in dynasty. For the season, Williams is the Giants’ most efficient runner. Among all backs with 100 or more attempts, he’s number 20 in per-attempt efficiency.
- In the past two games, Carlos Hyde has just 9.5 and 12.5 percent of San Francisco’s rushing attempts. Prior to that, he’d averaged over 22 percent of team attempts. San Francisco has a neutral schedule rest of season, but it looks like usage might be shifting more heavily to Frank Gore. Maybe it’ll swing back, but I’m not going to chance it.
- In his first game, Charles Sims led the Buccaneers backfield in rushing attempts, and posted the best, albeit still under par, efficiency marks. Tampa Bay has some good matchups remaining, so Sims might be a player to target or hold. Matthew Freedman questioned Tampa Bay’s RB usage last week, and I agree it was puzzling. Unless the Buccaneers are already “playing for next year” in which case it makes sense that they try to take an extended look at what Sims can do. Ideally you can avoid this backfield entirely, but if not, Sims may be a decent desperation stash.
- Terrance West handled 50 percent of Cleveland’s rushing attempts and performed over par. Also, his rushing expected points (13.4) were among the week’s highest, indicating the Browns trust him with both volume and value. At least for the past two games they have. Isaiah Crowell is still more efficient, but as long as West gets the majority of work and plays well, I think he’ll hold onto his gig. Pro tip: Cleveland has the third-best remaining RB schedule, with only one negative matchup.
- In Buffalo, Bryce Brown had the smallest piece of the RB pie, and managed to fumble a touchdown out of the end zone. On the other hand, he still performed above par as a rusher and particularly as a receiver, out performing Fred Jackson on both a raw and per target basis. Buffalo has a slightly unfavorable schedule until the final two weeks of the fantasy season, when they get Green Bay and Oakland. I’m trying to avoid this backfield until then if I can help it. I’d personally rather hold Brown than Anthony Dixon however. If Jackson is able to increase his workload, he’ll be the dominant back, but Brown offers some pass game utility that Dixon won’t.
- Not as sexy as it sounds. (back)