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Which Teams Have the Most RB Opportunity Available?

We recently explored the level of opportunity available for WRs on a team level in 2018 using air yards. Now we turn our attention to the running backs, which, as we’re about to see, is a different market.

In the past, we’ve used Kevin Cole’s opportunity scores to help single out the best landing spots for incoming RBs. While this is a different methodology entirely, it should still provide a strong indication of where the best opportunities lie now that we’re through free agency.

Here’s how to read the table:

  • The Colts had a total of 469 RB opportunities in 2017 (carries plus targets).
  • They lost Frank Gore’s 299 opportunities.
  • That left them with 170 opportunities accounted for.
  • Since they haven’t signed or drafted an RB yet, they have a current opportunity deficit of 299, making them a prime landing spot for a rookie back.
OFF2017 RB OpporunitiesOutgoing OppsRemainingIncoming OppsNew Total2018 Available Opp
DEN5203821380138382
ARI4883101780178310
IND4692991700170299
TB4262242020202224
MIN5572193380338219
CAR4752132620262213
PHI4702082620262208
NE56221534741388174
HOU4821593230323159
SEA3131461670167146
JAC5961404560456140
DAL4881243640364124
SF524328196219415109
BAL56597468046897
NYG50729721021342384
LAC51346467046746
CIN43241391039141
TEN42923119821541316
LAR45514441044114
ATL480048004800
CHI509050905090
GB410041004100
NO565056505650
OAK448044804480
PIT506050605060
WAS453045304530
BUF50884424140564-56
KC428042874502-74
CLE439248191328519-80
NYJ487149338319657-170
DET4360436181617-181
MIA42574351299650-225

Here is another way of visualizing the vacant opportunities heading into the draft.

chart

Some takeaways:

  • Denver’s release of C.J. Anderson gives them the most vacated opportunities in the league. With the tenth-most Rushing Expected Points from their RBs in 2017, the Broncos suddenly represent a tremendous opportunity for a rookie RB.
  • The Cardinals are next on the list, but with David Johnson returning from injury, almost all of that opportunity is accounted for, and Arizona seems unlikely to spend much draft capital on the position.
  • The Colts haven’t been a very valuable backfield in recent years; they were 28th in total RB Expected Points last year. However, with an entirely new coaching staff, and the potential to bring in a highly-drafted RB, that could quickly change.
  • The same could be said for Tampa Bay. They have a ton of vacated opportunities and are the perfect landing spot for a workhorse back like Saquon Barkley or Rashaad Penny.
  • Minnesota is in the same spot as Arizona in that they have an incumbent returning from injury and are unlikely to invest much more at RB.
  • Carolina, Philadelphia, and New England are interesting because while they have established RBs, they also have some vacated opportunities and may be good bets to bring in some complimentary backs in the draft.
  • We singled out Seattle as a team that should see some positive rushing regression in 2018, and in a deep class, there are plenty of rookie RBs who could flourish in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Will the Cowboys bring in someone like Nyheim Hines to ease Ezekiel Elliott’s work load?
  • The 49ers are paying Jerick McKinnon a starter’s salary, but that probably doesn’t prevent Kyle Shanahan from bringing in some depth. McKinnon has never handled more than 202 touches in a season.
  • Alex Collins is currently a great value in best ball drafts, but Baltimore has some vacated opportunity and may not be comfortable handing him a workhorse role.
  • The only reason the Giants don’t land higher on this list is because they signed 31-year-old Jonathan Stewart. They’ve been linked to Barkley with the second-overall pick, and even if they pass, they’re a likely landing spot for one of the top RBs in the draft.

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