2013 RB Efficiency Numbers

Now that the fantasy season is over, I’ve begun digging into the film and the numbers from 2013, to see what lessons we can learn. My preference is to find stats that ignore volume and put players on an equal playing field, so that I can compare their per-touch numbers to one another. Those comparisons are helpful to fantasy players, because it allows us to see pure talent and fantasy potential, which we can then overlay onto a player’s opportunity next year even if they change teams.

This article takes that approach to Running Backs, because it shows their per-touch point averages for 2013. I came to these numbers by dividing total fantasy points in 2013 (PPR league numbers) by the sum of each player’s receptions and rushing attempts. The final numbers you see here show how many fantasy points each Running Back gained on average each time they touched the ball in 2013.

Rather than limit the data to guys with a threshold number of touches, I took the roughly top-70 Running Backs from Ryan McDowell’s January dynasty ADP list, so that we can look at the top guys who will be picked in 2014. I chose dynasty rankings because the dynasty folks go at this all year, whereas it’s hard to get 2014 ADP for redraft leagues.

First, let’s take a look at the elite guys, those Running Backs who averaged more than 1 fantasy point per touch last year.

More than 1 Point Per Touch
Player Pts Per Touch
Shane Vereen 1.48
Marcel Reece 1.42
Danny Woodhead 1.23
Toby Gerhart 1.23
Isaiah Pead 1.16
Donald Brown 1.16
Jamaal Charles 1.15
Roy Helu 1.11

We see a common theme among those elite guys, and it shouldn’t surprise you — pass-catching Running Backs are far more efficient in a PPR league than non-catching Running Backs. Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Jamaal Charles, and Roy Helu all stand out in most of our minds as guys who are threats out of the backfield.

If you are new to the PPR format, this highlights the need to look for Running Backs who catch passes and see a high volume of touches in their offense. Those are the backs who will carry your team to the playoffs.

Next, I’ve listed the tier one step down. These are the Running Backs who averaged between 0.75 and 0.99 points per touch.

Between .75 and .99 Points Per Touch
Player Pts Per Touch
Giovani Bernard 0.99
Knowshon Moreno 0.99
Joique Bell 0.99
DeMarco Murray 0.96
Phillip Tanner 0.96
Jacquizz Rodgers 0.95
Matt Forte 0.93
James Starks 0.91
LeSean McCoy 0.90
Rashad Jennings 0.88
Reggie Bush 0.86
Johnathan Franklin 0.86
Edwin Baker 0.84
Marshawn Lynch 0.82
Daniel Thomas 0.79
Knile Davis 0.77
Montee Ball 0.77
Jordan Todman 0.77
Eddie Lacy 0.76
Adrian Peterson 0.76
Arian Foster 0.76
Le’Veon Bell 0.75

Then we skip down some, to the top-ranked dynasty Running Backs for 2014 who averaged worse than 0.6 points per touch in 2013. I chose to skip the middle range, from 0.6 to 0.74, because there was a large number of backs and the list became too unwieldy for the article.

0.6 Points Per Touch Or Worse
Player Pts Per Touch
Stepfan Taylor 0.60
Andre Brown 0.59
Daryl Richardson 0.57
Chris Ivory 0.57
C. J. Anderson 0.54
Dennis Johnson 0.54
Khiry Robinson 0.53
Jonathan Stewart 0.50
Doug Martin 0.49
Alex Green 0.48
Robert Turbin 0.48
Mikel Leshoure 0.45
Christine Michael 0.44
Kenjon Barner 0.43
David Wilson 0.42
Mike Gillislee 0.35
Bernard Pierce 0.27

A quick glance at that list tells you it is primarily the guys who saw very limited touches but have upside in coming years. Guys like Christine Michael, Kenjon Barner, and C. J. Anderson weren’t workhorse backs, and their lack of touches limited the possibility of them having the game-breaking 80-yard touchdowns that boost the numbers of a team’s top Running Back.

You should note how bad Bernard Pierce comes out from these numbers. He’s a name several have touted as a prospect to watch, but the Ravens’ 2013 season should leave us all incredibly wary of him. We all heard about how poorly Ray Rice performed last year, but he averaged 0.65 points per touch, compared to Pierce’s 0.27. Behind a bad Offensive Line, both struggled, but Pierce made almost nothing of his opportunity. I’m not willing to write him off as a lost cause, but Pierce should not be drafted anywhere near as high as he was last year.

There ends my analysis of the numbers, as my primary goal was to put them out there in order to allow you to do your own fantasy analysis. If you have thoughts on how to apply these numbers to 2014 fantasy drafts, give me a shout on Twitter @LakeTwoQBs.

Josh is a lawyer in rural Colorado. He has been playing fantasy football since 2002, and he has been commissioner of a two-quarterback league since 2004. 2014 marks his entrance into the dynasty format.