RB Trends - Are RBs losing their values over the past few seasons?

March 7, 2016
By: Johnny Slokes
 

          So the 2015 season has came and passed, so I'm sure most of you guys have noticed the glaring fact that the running back position was pretty terrible this year. Granted it was an injury riddled season for the running back, so what I have decided to do was compare the numbers of all the RB1 this year and compare it to the years past, going back to 2012 to determine if the running backs are losing value in the early rounds to the wide receivers. For years the running back position was the prime position to be drafted in the first and second rounds, but now the modern trend ( especially after this past season) is to stray away from running backs in the first or second rounds of drafts. But is that always the right move? Could that end up hurting you in future drafts? That's what I'm writing this article for, to figure out if last year was an outlier from past seasons or if the running back position is truly getting less valueable in those early rounds. For the purposes of this research an RB1 will be the top 12 running backs and we will use the PPR scoring format. I will list off the major statistics for the running backs for each year, measure it out a graph, compare the different years and then do the same for wide receivers to see if running backs are losing value to wide receivers.

2015

  1. Devonta Freeman    264 carries 1061 yards 11 TDs 73 catches 578 yards 3 TDs
  2. Adrain Peterson    327 carries 1485 yards 11 TDs 30 catches 222 yards
  3. Danny Woodhead   97 carries 335 yards 3 TDs 81 catches 756 yards 6 TDs
  4. Doug Martin    288 carries 1402 yards 6 TDs 33 catches 271 yards 1 TD
  5. Lamar Miller    194 carries 872 yards 8 TDs 47 catches 397 yards 2 TDs
  6. DeAngelo Williams    200 carries 907 yards 11 TDs 40 catches 367 yards
  7. Matt Forte    218 carries 898 yards 4 TDs 44 catches 389 yards 3 TDs
  8. David Johnson    125 carries 581 yards 8 TDs 36 catches 457 yards 4 TDs
  9. Todd Gurley    229 carries 1108 yards 10 TDs 21 catches 188 yards
  10. Latavius Murray    267 carries 1066 yards 6 TDs 41 catches 232 yards
  11. Chris Ivory    247 carries 1070 yards 7 TDs 30 carries 217 yards 1 TD
  12. Mark Ingram    165 carries 767 yards 6 TDs 50 catches 405 yards

         2621 carries 11,552 yards 91 TDs 526 catches 4479 yards 20 TDs

          As you can see there was 6 running backs that had fewer than 1000 yards, which is by far the least amount in recent memory ( granted we're only going back to 2012). If you combine all their stats together of all the RB1 then it would equal to 2621 carries for 11,552 yards ( roughly 4.4 ypc) and 91 TDs. Adding in the receiving totals: 526 catches for 4479 yards and 20 TDs. The main purpose of knowing these totals is to figure out the usage of the top running backs. Almost immediately, the first thing that I noticed was that Adrian Peterson was the only back to carry the rock 300+ times. Futhermore only 3 other backs on this list had 300+ total touches if you include receptions. Also lets note that there was 6 backs that had double digit TDs.

 

Rushing yards collectively

Carries

Receiving yards

Catches

          Next we are going to go into the 2014 season. While there were some noteable injuries in this season, you will see the more traditional running backs on the leaderboards.

2014

  1. Le'Veon Bell    290 carries 1361 yards 8 TDs 83 catches 854 yards 3 TDs
  2. DeMarco Murray    393 carries 1845 yards 13 TDs 57 catches 416 yards
  3. Matt Forte    266 carries 1038 yards 6 TDs 102 catches 808 yards 4 TDs
  4. Marshawn Lynch    280 carries 1306 yards 13 TDs 37 catches 367 yards 4 TDs
  5. Eddie Lacy    246 carries 1139 yards 9 TDs 42 catches 427 yards 4 TDs
  6. Arian Foster    260 carries 1246 yards 8 TDs 38 catches 387 yards 5 TDs
  7. Jamaal Charles    205 carries 1039 yards 9 TDs 40 catches 291 yards 5 TDs
  8. Justin Forsett    235 carries 1266 yards 8 TDs 44 catches 267 yards
  9. Lamar Miller    216 carries 1099 yards 8 TDs 38 catches 275 yards 1 TD
  10. Jeremy Hill    222 carries 1124 yards 9 TDs 27 catches 215 yards
  11. C.J. Anderson    179 carries 849 yards 8 TDs 34 catches 324 yards 2 TDs
  12. LeSean McCoy    314 carries 1319 yards 5 TDs 30 catches 155 yards

3106 carries 14,631 yards 104 TDs 572 catches 4722 yards 28 TDs

          Wow, just one year ago and the numbers look completely different. Nearly 500 more carries collectively and more than 3000 yards collectively as well. There was even a small increase in receptions not to mention 13 more TDs. Most of the big name running backs stayed healthy on this year ( Bell, Lynch, Foster, Charles) with a couple of nice surprises ( Forsett, Hill, Anderson). There was still only 2 backs with at least 300+ carries ( DeMarco Murray and McCoy) 3 other backs ( Bell, Forte, Lynch) that had 300+ touches.


Rushing yards

Carries

Receiving yards

Catches

For 2013 what you'll notice is there won't be as many carries or rushing yards as 2014 but it is still more than 2015 by a decent margin. Another notable aspect is that there is a pretty big increase in the number of receptions, yards, and TDs out of the backfield.

2013

  1. Jamaal Charles    259 carries 1288 yards 12 TDs 70 catches 693 yards 7 TDs
  2. Matt Forte    288 carries 1341 9 TDs 75 catches 592 yards 3 TDs
  3. LeSean McCoy    314 carries 1607 yards 9 TDs 52 catches 540 yards 2 TDs
  4. Knowshon Moreno    242 carries 1039 yards 10 TDs 60 catches 548 yards 3 TDs
  5. Marshawn Lynch    301 carries 1257 yards 12 TDs 36 catches 316 yards 2 TDs
  6. DeMarco Murray    217 carries 1124 yards 9 TDs 53 catches 348 yards 1 TD
  7. Reggie Bush    223 carries 1006 yards 4 TDs 54 catches 506 yards 3 TDs
  8. Eddie Lacy    284 carries 1178 yards 11 TDs 35 catches 257 yards
  9. Chris Johnson    279 carries 1077 yards 6 TDs 42 catches 345 catches 4 TDs
  10. Adrian Peterson    279 carries 1266 yards 10 TDs 29 catches 171 yards 1 TD
  11. Fred Jackson    207 carries 896 yards 9 TDs 46 catches 375 yards 1 TD
  12. Danny Woodhead    106 carries 425 yards 2 TDs 76 catches 605 yards 6 TDs

2999 carries 13,504 yards 103 TDs 628 catches 5296 yards 33 TDs

          Once again only 2 backs that had 300+ carries but this time there was 6 other backs that had at least 300+ touches due to the fact that there was a lot more catches this year from the backfield. This was the year of the prolific pass catchers like Woodhead, Fred Jackson, Reggie Bush, Moreno and of course the top three in McCoy, Forte and Charles. Out of the 4 years that I did research on this was the year with the most receptions and receiving yards and receiving TDs.

 

Rushing yards

Carries

Receiving yards

Catches

 

          Looking at the graph you can start to see it tail off in 2015 by a decent amount after staying pretty stable the two years prior. Although there seems to be a tail off in 2015, the yards per carry amoung the RB1 remains stable for the most part (roughly 4.5, 4.71, 4.4 ypc).

2012

  1. Adrain Peterson    348 carries 2097 yards 12 TDs 40 catches 217 yards 1 TD
  2. Doug Martin    319 carries 1454 yards 11 TDs 49 catches 472 yards 1 TD
  3. Arian Foster    351 carries 1411 yards 15 TDs 40 catches 217 yards 2 TDs
  4. Ray Rice    257 1143 yards 9 TDs 61 catches 478 yards 1 TD
  5. Marshawn Lynch    315 carries 1590 yards 11 TDs 23 catches 196 yards 1 TD
  6. C.J. Spiller    207 carries 1244 yards 6 TDs 43 catches 454 yards 2 TDs
  7. Alfred Morris    335 carries 1606 yards 13 TDs 11 catches 77 yards
  8. Trent Richardson    267 carries 950 yards 11 TDs 51 catches 367 yards 1 TD
  9. Jamaal Charles    284 carries 1513 yards 5 TDs 36 catches 236 yards 1 TD
  10. Frank Gore    259 carries 1212 yards 8 TDs 28 catches 234 yards 1 TD
  11. Matt Forte    248 carries 1094 yards 5 TDs 44 catches 340 yards 1 TD
  12. Chris Johnson    276 carries 1243 yards 6 TDs 36 catches 226 yards    

        3466 carries 16,557 yards 112 TDs 462 catches 3519 yards 12 TDs

2012 was the year of the rookies ( Martin, Morris, Richardson) and this season had the most carries by over 350 and you guessed it, also had the most yards by nearly 2000 yards. It could be an outlier for the fact that Adrian Peterson had nearly 2100 rushing yards, but there was 5 RB1 that had 300+ carries and 4 other backs that had 300+ touches. Another notable thing about 2012 was there was less receptions. That should be expected that if running backs carry the ball more then they won't catch the ball as often.

Rushing yards

Carries

Receiving yards

Catches

          The Final graphs look like most of the stats are on a downward trend, but mostly because the actual amount of carries have gone down. Teams nowadays are more willing to pass the ball because of the recent success teams have been having. Also with the emergence of backs that specialize in catching the ball out of the backfield, we're seeing less and less every down backs. But the question still remains the same: are running backs losing first round value? It may just be my opinion but I feel like there are still some value in those early rounds for running backs but you will still see wide receivers start to go earlier and earlier. As a matter of fact Antonio Brown should be the #1 pick overall, but who could argue with taking Le'Veon Bell over him ( me that's who)? My opinion is that the RB1 are on a downward trend but its a very slow trend and last year was a bit of outlier due to some injuries and I think the running back position will bounce back in the 2016 season with a few of these up and coming running backs that may produce for some of the older aging backs (Freeman, David Johnson, Rawls, Langford, maybe even Ajayi and Elliot). So don't be afraid to take a running back early even with the risk that may be involved. With the scarcity of running backs that run and catch you should still consider taking a running back early, it will just be harder with all them nice wide receivers out there ( although many you can get value in the middle rounds). Hope you enjoyed this article enjoy!!

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