Fantasy Football Rookie Running Back Review

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The big three draft options we heard before the start of the 2013 season for rookie running backs were Montee Ball, Le’Veon Bell, and Eddie Lacy. Those who stuck with Lacy and Bell through their injuries were rewarded with Lacy finishing 6th in scoring among running backs for standard scoring leagues, and Bell finished the year tied with Alfred Morris at 14th. Montee Ball ended up ranking 42nd in fantasy points for running backs, but with an average draft position of 64.6, most fantasy owners drafted Ball in the beginning of the 5th round. You could have picked up Le’Veon Bell at the end of the 8th round or start of the 9th, but you can’t predict the future(if you can please email me).

While these were the names most owners were primarily focused with at the start of their draft, several rookie running backs made a fantasy impact this year. Eddie Lacy had the most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and rushing yards per game among his rookie peers, but Giovani Bernard lead the NFL running back freshman in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receiving yards per game. Surprisingly, the leader of yards per carry and yards per catch in this group was the same person, Andre Ellington. Giovani Bernard and Le’Veon Bell look to be two of the more complete backs in terms of their rushing and pass catching ability, but Eddie Lacy and Zac Stacy clearly stood out for their rushing yards. Obviously each back will have their strengths and weaknesses, but with the top three scoring fantasy running backs of Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Matt Forte being heavily involved in the passing game, you may want to keep Gio Bernard, Le’Veon Bell, and Andre Ellington in mind for the 2014 season.

Rushing Yards Receiving Yards Rushing Touchdowns Receiving Touchdowns Rushing Yards Per Game Receiving Yards Per Game Yards Per Carry Yards Per Catch
Montee Ball 558 145 4 0 34.9 9.1 4.7 7.3
Le’Veon Bell 860 399 8 0 66.2 30.7 3.5 8.9
Giovani Bernard 695 514 5 3 43.4 32.1 4.1 9.2
Andre Ellington 652 371 3 1 43.5 24.7 5.5 9.5
Eddie Lacy 1178 257 11 0 78.5 17.1 4.1 7.3
Zac Stacy 973 141 7 1 69.5 10.1 3.9 5.4
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Categories: Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football Strategy

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3 replies

  1. WOW! What a great visual break-down of the rookie running back class! And what a great way to see the differences in fantasy football point production, too.

    I liked knowing I wasn’t 100% wrong about Andre Ellington in the preseason. It is also interesting that Ellington’s and Bernard’s productions were so relative in growth. Also, it looks like rushing yardage nearly scaled to touchdowns, while receiving yardage wasn’t as much of an influencer in yielded touchdowns. Maybe those squads were using the short game, and passing to the RB as a final check-down? But the higher TDs off of the receptions were teams using the RB game more in the red? I dunno…but it’s a starting point for a lot of debate and some great info going into next season!

    Those graphs…magnifique!

    Great article!

    • Thanks Jim, your book “Stop Saying I Can’t” (http://smartidealane.com/free-book-download.php) made me addicted to spreadsheets on Google Drive! It will be interesting to break down some of the negatives on these guys a little more. Eddie Lacy and his rushing style that could make him prone to injury, Zac Stacy’s and Lacy’s lack of receiving yards, the timeshares Gio Bernard, Andre Ellington, and Montee Ball may face, and Le’Veon Bells poor yards per carry are all risky factors.

  2. Thanks for the plug:) I’m glad you’re enjoying it. One thing I’m going to do in the off-season, while I’m building tools, is use some more analytics for fantasy football. NFL.com did a craptastic job with their graphing, but I’d like to take all of those data tables we see over a year and really use some cool packages like http://d3js.org/ especially, to give fantasy football owners a much better heads up on their data.

    Bell’s yards per carry, and if he carries a risk of re-injury or further injury. Being that young and missing any time (Lacy, Stacy and Bell I’m talking about), doesn’t give me the most encouraging and warm and fluffy feelings.

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