Young Running Backs Rising: 2022 Running Back Advanced Stats Recap
Image Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: James Cook.

With the regular season installments of the running back advanced stats behind us, we’ll look at the season-long data. Thanks for following along as we use the Advanced Stats Explorer to examine the underlying metrics of notable rushers. I’m also including routes run and receiving data to provide a complete picture of a player’s usage and skills. 

Metrics like yards before and after contact, evasion rate, stuff rate, and designed gap rate tell us how a running back is using his blockers, how effective that blocking is, and how effective that RB is at making would-be tacklers miss — all skills that translate into future production. In this way, the advanced RB stats can help us find waiver-wire gems and trade targets before the rest of our league mates.

Leaders In Yards Before Contact

The theme of this piece is young running backs on the rise, who both excite and frustrate us as many are stuck in committees. We’ll use an arbitrary threshold of 50 carries. James Cook ranks first with 3.1 yards before contact. Cook posted strong performances down the stretch, with 15.4 PPR/G over the final four contests. On the season, Cook posted balanced running back advanced stats in YBC, yards after contact (2.7), and evasion rate (15%). Cook bested Devin Singletary, who displayed juicy underlying metrics in the past. 

In 2022, Singletary averaged 2.1 YBC, 2.6 YAC, and a 14% evasion rate. Cook’s stock rises with Singletary as an unrestricted free agent, but the Bills tend to mix in a committee. D’Andre Swift tied with Breece Hall for second with 3.0 YBC, with Jeff Wilson and Chuba Hubbard rounding out the top five. We discussed Swift teasing and frustrating fantasy managers in past installments of the running back advanced stats, so we don’t overdo it. 

Hubbard Versus Foreman

Hubbard might be the most surprising since Wilson’s team context is much better, though the Dolphins lean pass heavy. Like Cook, Hubbard had a balanced YBC (2.6) and YAC (2.8). Hubbard’s YBC is particularly notable compared to D’Onta Foreman at 1.7. Hubbard also bested Foreman in stuff rate (9% to 16%). Only 9% of his rushes resulted in zero or fewer yards. 

While Foreman had a 53% share of rushing attempts compared to Hubbard’s 29%, they matched each other in snap share, after the Christian McCaffrey trade.

running back advanced stats

On the season, the Panthers ranked 19th in YBC at 1.52 with the 7th-most YAC at 3.06. Foreman is a free agent in 2023, but there’s a chance the Panthers liked what they saw and re-sign him. The lesson learned here involves not straying away from a projected brutal offense when they trade away their most talented player, though this could be an outlier scenario. Keep a note on the Panthers’ backfield heading into 2023. 

Leaders In Yards After Contact

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