2017 Running Back Consistency Report


Ryan Cearfoss
@fntsyfbconnect

Looking back at the 2017 season for running back position, it was crazy. The first game of the year we had a 3rd round ADP running back go for 45 fantasy points, we saw the redemption of Todd Gurley, the emergence of the rookie class with Hunt, Kamara, McCaffrey, and Cook. Making sense of all this can be tough to do but once it’s broken down, you realize the excitement for the years to come.

Consistency break down

To break down the running back performances this year I took the scoring of the top 50 players in the position, on a weekly basis and broke them down. Being that most consistency performances are based on just finishing in the top 12 or 24, I gave these a number value, so weeks wouldn’t be deceptive in player scoring.  Each weekly score has a set point amount, with a bonus point added to the RB1 total for games over 30 points because those can single-handedly win a week. This broken down on a weekly basis gives an RCV score or “Real Consistency Value”.

Here is a breakdown of the scoring

Position rank RB1 RB2 RB3 Week Losing Week Winning
Scoring 16+ 10-15 6-10 5 or less 30+
RCV 3 2 1 -1 +1

Here is an example of how the scoring worked with Kareem Hunt thru the first 8 weeks.

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Weekly AVG
Score 45.6 25.9 25.3 16.1 14.6 16 15.7 9.8
Performance RB1+WW RB1 RB1 RB1 RB2 RB1 RB2 RB3
RCV 3+1 3 3 3 2 3 2 1 21 2.62


As it breaks down thru the first 8 weeks Hunt started out on fire and slowed down but still put out consistent performances. He averaged, consistently, an RB2 performance over the first 8 weeks which is fantastic.

RCV Results

As the season concluded the top 12 performers came out right around where it was expected with Todd Gurley leading the way. He was the only skill position player to average over an RB1 performance every single week, with a final score of 3.0. To put that in perspective, the only other player to play that consistently with big games included is Deshaun Watson. He only played 7 weeks and ended with a 3.14 RVC. This made Todd Gurley a lock every week to keep you in all games.  He had twelve games with over 16 points and four with over 30 which is unbelievable production.

Le’veon Bell followed him up with a score of 2.86; just coming up short on the explosive games over 30 points.  After Bell, there is a slight dip but there was a total of 12 running backs who finished with RCV score over 2.

Player RB1 week RB2 Week RB3 Weeks League Loser League Winner RCV Score
Gurley 12 2 1 0 4 3
Bell 12 2 1 0 2 2.86
Elliot 6 3 1 0 1 2.6
Kamara 9 4 3 0 3 2.56
Fournette 8 3 2 0 1 2.53
Ingram 7 6 2 0 2 2.46
Gordon 8 5 2 1 2 2.31
Hunt 8 4 3 1 2 2.25
McCoy 7 6 2 1 0 2.12
McCaffrey 5 7 4 0 0 2.06
Thompson 4 3 2 1 1 2
Hyde 6 6 3 1 0 2


When looking at the players on this list, they all averaged double-digit points on a weekly basis. Out of all of the games started by all these top-tier players, there was only a total of 5 occurrences, over 17 fantasy weeks of football, where they were busts and scored under 5 points. Not only do these top guys give you a fantastic base, but they have weeks that will win you a matchup which is huge for a fantasy team.

The reason these numbers are important is it allows you to determine how you evaluate and build a fantasy team.  Having a player with a score of 2.5 or higher allows you to swing for the fences on some guys who could be a little more boom or bust.  The other important part of this is that it shows you the value each player has potential game-winning performances.

Boom/Bust Rates

When taking into consideration the next group of players, I’m looking at the percentage of time they give an RB1 performance or boom rate. This allows you to figure out what players will give you the most upside in a secondary scoring option at running back, negating the possibility of a bust. While players are volatile they can be huge when helping push a team over the edge. This is the top ten backs out of the next 24 for the Boom rate.

Highest Boom Rates

Boom Rank Player Boom Percent RCV Score
1 Cook 50 1
2 Drake 38.4 1.15
3 Johnson Jr. 37.5 1.87
4 Collins 33.3 1.53
5 Howard 31.25 1.43
6 McKinnon 31.25 1.31
7 Freeman 28.5 1.85
8 Lewis 25 1.5
9 B. Allen 25 1.25
10 L. Murray 25 0.93
11 D. Murray 20 1.46
12 Lynch 18 1.4


The guys here aren’t as consistent but the majority of them are putting up an RB1 performance every 4-5 games.  With the least consistent of the bunch being Latavius Murray; who is the only guy to on a weekly basis averaging less than an RB3 weekly being saved by a couple big games.

One thing that truly stands out is the three Vikings running backs listed, Murray and McKinnon combined for having an RB1 performance 56% of the time in place of Dalvin Cook. Their individual numbers cannibalized each other taking away from the value due to game flow and matchups. In Cook’s first 4 games he averaged 21.25 touches making him the clear lead back.  In this situation where McKinnon and Murray split carries, they still had a Boom rate of 56%. Cook has an opportunity to blow up and end up in the top tier of backs next season.

On the flip side of all of this, Bust Rate shows how many time any given player has under 5 points in a given week. This will include players who had significant roles all year on an offense who would score under five points the most frequently.

Highest Bust Rates

Bust Rank Player Bust Rate Percentage
1 L. Murray 37.4
2 Howard 25
3 Crowell 25
4 Forte 25
5 Riddick 25
6 Lynch 20
7 Powell 20
8 McKinnon 18.75


Majority of the backs who had a high bust rate are running backs in a timeshare; except for the few who truly stood out, Jordan Howard, Isaiah Crowell, and Marshawn Lynch. All three of these backs took serious draft capital last year going in either the second or third rounds. Players selected this high are guys that are expected to be a major part of a team but can be more devastating when they don’t.  Looking at this now, it’s about finding a common theme that shows why this happens, so we don’t fall for it again.

Late Risers

The last thing that’s an essential thing to look at is how a player finishes the season. As the seasons go on a lot of changes, players get hurt and other players emerge. Someone like Alex Collins who had a limited role in the offense putting up a lot of low scoring games early in the season can skew how valuable he was once he stepped into the primary role of an offense. Looking at this can really show who blew up at the end of the season and the true value of that player. Here is a look at some of the standouts who had huge jumps at the end of the season.

Player Full Season RCV Last 8 weeks RCV Last 8 Boom Rate Pct. Last 8 Bust Rate Pct. Last 8 RCV Rank Full Season RCV Rank Ranking

Improvement

Alex Collins 1.53 2.42 57 0 8 18 10
Kenyan Drake 1.15 1.85 42 14 15 29 14
Jamal Williams 0.93 2 42.8 14 13 25 12
Devonta Freeman 1.85 2.2 40 0 9 14 5
Marshawn Lynch 1.4 2 28 0 15 23 8


With these five players, it’s a tale of two different stories. The first players like Freeman and Lynch, it’s returning to what we’re used to seeing and why we drafted them as top-tier backs. Both Lynch and Freeman had zero weeks where they let you down over the last half of the season and having consistent performances giving you faith for next season.

The major ones are Alex Collins, Kenyan Drake, and Jamal Williams, these three backs were non-factors before the season started. All of them were buried on the depth charts truly emerged once they got their opportunity.  If these guys stay in the primary roles on their offense and the teams don’t make any significant changes they could be huge assets in the years to come.

Conclusion

The thing that truly stands out when looking at the RCV, with the running back position is that the deeper you go in the position the less consistent players get. What this means is landing a top-tier running back in the first two rounds is as close to essential as possible. With 10 of the top 12 most consistent running backs being drafted on average in the first three rounds last year. Waiting until later in the draft to get an RB is a dangerous game which rarely is as waiting on other positions.  While there are exceptions like Kamara it’s few and far between.

Later on, most of the risers came late in drafts or from free agency this could prove as a different way to look at things when it comes to team building with RBs early and late and other positions in between shying away from players in timeshares and only specific roles.

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