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Winning the Turn: How To Execute RB-RB With a Late Pick

Early in drafting season, it is typically easier to exploit average draft position. The selections aren’t as deeply researched and allow room to draft excess value.

I’ve already taken a look at how to exploit middle round quarterback ADP, now I am doing the same for early round running backs.

Average Draft Position

Here is a look at the MFL10 ADP of the top 10 running backs:

#PlayerAvg. Pick
1Bell, Le'Veon PIT RB1.93
2Charles, Jamaal KCC RB3.78
3Lacy, Eddie GBP RB4.13
4Forte, Matt CHI RB9.61
5Peterson, Adrian MIN RB10.95
6Lynch, Marshawn SEA RB11.77
7Murray, DeMarco PHI RB11.96
8McCoy, LeSean BUF RB12.77
9Anderson, C.J. DEN RB17.75
10Foster, Arian HOU RB18.11

When I see this, I am most intrigued by the last three running backs: LeSean McCoy, C.J. Anderson, and Arian Foster.

While I love Shady as much as the next guy, his best days are quite possibly behind him. He lost one of the league’s most innovative coaches and moves to Buffalo, a team prepared to become a ball-control offense that wins by playing superior defense.

According to MFL10 ADP, owners are taking McCoy about five picks ahead of Anderson and Foster. I understand this has to do with job security, guaranteed touches, and the ability to stay healthy but it’s not a move that I would co-sign.

Despite not seeing double digit touches until Week 9, C.J. Anderson outscored last year’s consensus No. 1 overall pick over the course of the year by 8.9 fantasy points. It’s not because of a McCoy injury – he started all 16 games. Anderson was simply the superior player.

Going into Week 9, Anderson had one catch – he ended with 34 receptions for 324 yards and two receiving touchdowns. McCoy finished with 29 receptions for 155 yards and zero receiving touchdowns.

Despite missing three games, Arian Foster also outscored McCoy – by 73.1 fantasy points. That means Arian Foster averaged 8.54 more fantasy points per game than LeSean McCoy.

NFL Career Graphs

Let’s look at how each player performed last season using the NFL Career Graphs:

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Keep in mind that while McCoy and Foster started every game, C.J. Anderson only started half of his team’s games. Despite having the highest percentage of his team’s rushes, McCoy ran for the fewest yards per carry.

McCoy also ran for the fewest touchdowns per game and averaged the fewest receptions and receiving yards. Not only did he not catch a touchdown but he averaged a dreadful 3.97 yards per target. Without pass game inclusion, McCoy was essentially a volume rusher last year.

A Closer Look At Last Year’s Production

Since the NFL Career Graph cannot reflect only the games that C.J. Anderson started, let’s take a closer look at his per game scoring (PPR).

PlayerGGS20+ FPGs% of 20+ FPGS10+ FPGs% of 10+ FPGS
C.J. Anderson14760.85771.000
Arian Foster131370.538131.000
LeSean McCoy161640.250110.688

With Anderson only starting seven games, the best way to compare these players is through percentages. Out of the seven games that Anderson started, he scored 20-plus fantasy points in an astonishing six out of seven – or 85.7 percent of the time. In each game he started, he scored at least 10 fantasy points.

Arian Foster scored 20-plus fantasy points in seven of his 13 starts or 53.8 percent and topped 10 fantasy points in each game he played last season.

McCoy was not as productive, scoring 20-plus fantasy points in just four of 16 games. He finished with 10-plus fantasy points in just 11 of 16 games – not exactly what you’re looking for from a first round pick.

Is C.J. Anderson’s productivity attributable to Peyton Manning? It doesn’t matter.

RB Similarity Scores

While last year’s production didn’t favor McCoy, perhaps the Similarly Scores will. These unbiased numbers reflect PPR scoring.

PlayerLowMedianHigh
Arian Foster13.315.319.4
C.J. Anderson9.616.518.3
LeSean McCoy9.411.913.8

The RB Similarity Scores favor Arian Foster, who holds the highest floor and ceiling. Anderson leads McCoy in every category despite the fact that I didn’t remove the games that Anderson didn’t start. Not a good sign for McCoy.

Let’s see how the scores change once I only include the games that Anderson started.

PlayerLowMedianHigh
C.J. Anderson18.621.123.6
Arian Foster13.315.319.4
LeSean McCoy9.411.913.8

With only his starts included, the app believes that C.J. Anderson is clearly the superior player. He receives the highest low, median, and high projection.

Future Projection

While some believe leaving the Eagles can be beneficial for LeSean McCoy, it’s worth noting just how much more favorable Philadelphia was for fantasy scoring. Let’s take a look at each of these teams’ production in 2014:

TeamPFYardsPlaysY/PTotal TDs
Broncos482644610676.0455
Eagles474634811275.6343
Texans372551310625.1934
Bills343509610205.0030

I included the Bills so readers can see that McCoy is going to an offense that gained 1,252 fewer yards and scored 13 fewer touchdowns last season.

With the Broncos scoring 55 total touchdowns, C.J. Anderson doesn’t need a massive percentage of the total touchdowns to be extremely productive. In fact, between all four Broncos running backs, 18 total touchdowns were scored.

Barring injury, Foster will continue to see the monstrous workloads that hoist his value. In his 13 starts last season, Foster saw at least 20 carries in nine games. Considering he’s being drafted after McCoy, his injury concerns are already established in his price. Only Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, and Matt Forte outscored Foster on a per game basis.

The issue for McCoy is he’ll need to be a much more significant part of the Bills offense to return value.

TeamPFYdsPlyY/PTotal TDs% Yds% of TDs
Eagles474634811275.63430.2320.12
Bills343509610205.00300.2890.17

While McCoy’s total yardage accounted for 23.2 percent of the Eagles offense, it would have accounted for 28.9 percent of the Bills offense. His touchdowns accounted for just 12 percent of the Eagles scores but would have accounted for 17 percent of the Bills’.

Conclusion

While LeSean McCoy could improve and outperform Arian Foster and C.J. Anderson, you’re betting against a variety of trends when you select him at his current ADP. McCoy will need to be more efficient and catch more passes on an inferior offense.

I would prefer to draft C.J. Anderson or Arian Foster at a slightly better cost.

When he’s not searching for ways to defeat his opponents, Mike Braude spends his time finding ways to remove the randomness of fantasy football and reward the most skilled fantasy owners. He has remedied this issue by creating Apex Fantasy Football Money Leagues.

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