What NFL Draft Statistics Matter Most for Running Back Prospects?
In the first article in this series, I went through some key statistics for wide receiver prospects. The series continues here, as I dive into the running back position.
I’ve done a bunch of regression-tree analysis on draft prospects. Using statistical software, we can see where key thresholds lie for relevant statistics, and what probabilities for success look like based on those thresholds.
I took a look at 303 RBs since the 2003 NFL Draft who appeared in an NFL game and over 50 different statistics. Here is how well they project the likelihood of a player being a hit, which I defined as a 200 point PPR season within the first three years of said player’s career. The overall sample hit rate was 15.2 percent.
Contained in the table below is:
Statistic: the data point in question
Threshold: The key splitting point of the data with direction. For example >=12 rushing touchdowns would mean running backs with at least 12 touchdowns gave us the sample of greatest success.
Percent of Sample: The percentage of the overall sample meeting the threshold. In some cases (like final season kick return yards) there are so few players in-sample that there should be less confidence about the quality of the statistic or threshold.
Comments: Statistic explanation and/or formula if it is something you may not easily recognize.
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Much like at WR, what the scouts think about RBs matters a great deal. A whopping 70 percent of RBs in the sample ranked first or second by NFL Draft Scout became hits for fantasy.
Elite production in the return game appears to be predictive of success, though it is worth noting that very few players fit the listed criteria.
Scrimmage yards per game seems to offer the best combination of sample size and success rate, with roughly half of RBs reaching 150 scrimmage yards per game in their final seasons going on to be fantasy football hits.
The best measurable for RBs was Speed Score, which takes weight and forty time and creates a single number indicating weight-adjusted speed.
Age was less predictive for RBs than WRs, but still fairly important. Reaching 130 adjusted all-purpose yards before age 21 almost doubled the rate of success for RBs.
Stay tuned for stat breakdowns on the other major offensive positions for fantasy!
Featured image credit goes to Rick Scuteri of the Associated Press