In the 75th installment of The Wrong Read, Blair Andrews takes a deep dive into the metrics that best help us find Year 2 running back breakouts. Does efficiency make a difference? Can we beat draft position? Are we looking for different profiles from late picks compared to early picks?
Last week I explored which Year 1 metrics help us predict Year 2 wide receiver breakouts. I did that by converting Year 1 metrics into z-scores so that we could compare the differences between breakouts and non-breakouts. Check out that article for a complete explanation of the methodology.
Today we’re doing the same exercise for running backs. There are a few important differences to note. First, I’m still using 200 points as a breakout threshold. That sounds the same as at wide receiver, but because there are fewer running backs to hit that number each season, it turns out to be a more demanding threshold. Therefore, the number of breakouts is lower than at wide receiver, and this has some implications for which metrics show up as most meaningful.
The other main difference is that RBs tend to break out in Year 1 at a higher rate than WRs, compared to the rate of Year 2 breakouts. This again lowers the total number of Year 2 RB breakouts, which does change which metrics look important. I’ll discuss those differences and the implications more as we encounter them.
The Most Important Metrics for Finding RB Breakouts
First, let’s look at which metrics are most important for when trying to find Year 2 RB breakouts.