The running back position is arguably one of the most replaceable positions in the National Football League. There are undoubtedly studs that help their team, but many teams are productive with mediocre talent. However, there is no doubt that running backs are king in fantasy football.
Before we get to the 25 running back statistics, let’s take a look at the running back position as a whole. 2019 was an interesting year for running backs, as many teams are moving toward a committee approach. Some of the most valuable fantasy running backs were part of an RB committee, like: Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler, Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Chris Carson, etc. All five of these players finished in the top-12 on a points-per-game basis through Week 16. As always, talent and opportunity are the two most important factors that impact a player’s fantasy production.
The table below shows average fantasy points per game based on the draft round for each position. As illustrated in the charts, early-round running backs were once again a valuable commodity:
Similarly, the graph below shows RB fantasy production by average draft round. You can see that running back production dropped off after the first seven or so rounds.
Alright, let’s get to it. I put together 25 running back statistics that help tell the story of the 2019 fantasy season. Unless stated otherwise, all statistics are based on ½-point per reception scoring from Week 1 to Week 16 (typical fantasy season). Also, player rankings are based on a point-per-game basis.
Here are my 25 interesting stats about fantasy running backs in 2019:
2. Christian McCaffrey had 109 receptions. That would rank second among all WR, as only Michael Thomas had more (145).
3. CMC’s work in the passing game accounted for about 44% of his total fantasy production this season.
4. Christian McCaffrey had 11 games with at least 20 points. The next highest was Dalvin Cook at 7. Christian McCaffrey had five games with 10+ receptions. That’s more than all other running backs combined this season.
5. Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb led the league with 11 games with at least 70 rushing yards. Josh Jacobs finished just behind them with 10. Nick Chubb led the league with seven games of at least 100 rushing yards.
6. Aaron Jones had the most polarizing season among all running backs. He had eight games over 15 points. This was tied for second-most. He also had five games with less than 7 points, which is the most among the top-24 running backs. Aaron Jones was #MyGuy among TFFB writers this season.
7. Austin Ekeler was the equivalent WR14 based on receiving production alone.
8. Eight of the top-12 running backs had at least 400 receiving yards this season. The four who didn’t: Derrick Henry (206 rec yds), Nick Chubb (277), Mark Ingram (247), and Chris Carson (266).
9. Ten of the top-12 running backs had at least 200 carries this season. The two who didn’t: Austin Ekeler (123 rush att) and Alvin Kamara (163).
10. Leonard Fournette ranked fourth in receptions (76) among running backs. That’s more receptions than he had in 2018, 2017, and 2016 (college) COMBINED.
11. Leonard Fournette had the fewest touchdowns (3) among the top-24 RB. He had the eighth-most rushing attempts inside the red zone. Out of the top-10 RB in terms of red zone rushing attempts, Fournette is the only one with fewer than 6 TD.
12. If you take away fantasy points from touchdowns for all running backs, Mark Ingram would have finished as the RB18 on the season. He’s the only RB1 outside the top-13 in this metric.
13. 28 running backs had 180+ total touches this season. Only one of them finished outside the top-36 at the position: Sony Michel (18th in total touches).
14. Raheem Mostert finished the season as the RB37 on a point-per-game basis. He had the same number of touchdowns this season as Nick Chubb (8).
15. Out of all running backs with at least 100 attempts, six RB averaged 5 yards per carry (ypc) or greater. In order: Raheem Mostert (5.6), Gus Edwards (5.2), Nick Chubb (5.1), Devin Singletary (5.1), Matt Breida (5.1), and Mark Ingram (5). As you can see, 4 of those 6 RBs are 49ers & Ravens.
17. Only two of the top-12 RB had fewer than 17 touches per game: Austin Ekeler (13.7) and Mark Ingram (15.2). In fact, Austin Ekeler finished as the RB7 but had the fewest touches per game among the top-24 RB this season.
18. There were 22 running backs who averaged at least 16 touches per game. The only ones who finished outside the top-24 on a points-per-game basis: Carlos Hyde, David Montgomery, Sony Michel, and…Kerryon Johnson.
20. Joe Mixon averaged 8.8 fantasy points per game before the Bengals’ Week 9 bye. He averaged 17.2 fantasy points per game after their bye. He had 54 total yards per game before the bye and 124 total yards per game after the bye.
21. Mixon did this with the 30th ranked offensive line (according to Pro Football Focus) and mostly 3rd string level QB play. Next season, the Bengals’ offensive line will improve when Jonah Williams returns (2019 first-round pick, on IR all season). Head Coach Zac Taylor will enter his second season leading the team. The Bengals will likely have an improved QB situation with Joe Burrow under center.
22. Three running backs scored 40+ fantasy points in a single game this season: Aaron Jones (45.7 pts Week 5), Christian McCaffrey (44.7 pts Week 5), and Saquon Barkley (41.9 Week 16).
23. The playoff RB MVPs were Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones, and Todd Gurley. These were the only three players to average 15+ fantasy points in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 – 16).
24. Special shout out to these RBs who scored at least 20 points twice during the fantasy playoffs: Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliot, Saquon Barkley, Kenyan Drake, and Miles Sanders.
25. The running backs that killed you most in the playoffs: Leonard Fournette and Marlon Mack. Both were top-24 RB on the season but had two playoff games with less than 10 points.