Fantasy Football: 25 RB Statistics from 2017

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In our “25 Statistics” series, we will look into each position and grab 25 of the most meaningful and fantasy relevant statistics that ultimately reveal a bigger narrative of a player’s season. Check out the recent 25 QB Stats, 25 WR Stats and stay tuned as we reveal a position each week over the next month.

After an “RB Renaissance” in 2016, drafters in 2017 were quick to pick RBs early and often. Sometimes it paid off (Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy), while others failed to live up to expectations (DeMarco Murray, Jay Ajayi) or missed time (David Johnson-injured, Ezekiel Elliott-suspension). Just as in years past, RBs also came out-of-nowhere to be some of the best in the league (Alvin Kamara,  Duke Johnson). Here are some interesting stats from RBs in the 2017 season.

*All stats are presented based on PPR scoring.

1) Todd Gurley led all RBs in Rushing Fantasy Points and Fantasy Points from TDs. He was second in RB receiving points, trailing only…

2) Alvin Kamara. Excluding his rushing stats and looking at just the sensational rookie’s receiving stats, 81/826/5 – 193.6pts, he would have finished as WR21 in PPR scoring. His receiving alone outscored early round WR draft picks Alshon Jeffrey, Dez Bryant, and TY Hilton.

3) 47 RBs carried the ball at least 100 times. Alvin Kamara had the highest yards per carry of that group at 6.1 ypc – a full yard higher than Dion Lewis’ 5 ypc.

 4) 18 RBs exceeded 200 carries in 2017 and Kamara’s teammate, Mark Ingram, led the way with 4.9 ypc.
*The Saints offensive line was #goodatblocking in 2017.

5) The New Orleans Saints RB duo produced 594.4 total fantasy points and both finished in the top 6. Three other teams produced two RBs finishing in the top 25 RBs in PPR scoring: Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, and Baltimore Ravens. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman finished the highest of those six players, as RB13. Freeman was 7 spots and 82 points behind Ingram, who was the Saints second best RB.

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6) The Saints targeted their top two RBs a whopping 171 times in the passing game (Alvin Kamara-100 and Mark Ingram-71). Ingram was one of two RBs who saw over 70 targets who did not catch a TD pass. The other RB was…

7) Carlos Hyde. Hyde was the 5th most targeted RB in the NFL with 88 targets but failed to catch a TD pass.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Sport

Youth Movement

*Ages quoted at the end of the season.

8) The average age of the top 12 RB’s was 24. Only three RBs in the top 12 were over 25: RB6 Mark Ingram-28, RB7 LeSean McCoy-29, RB8 Carlos Hyde-27. Exclude those three and the average age was UNDER 23 years old.

9) The average age of RB13-24 was 26 ½. Excluding 34-year-old Frank Gore (RB20) and 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch (RB23), that number drops to 25 ½.

10) 56% (30 of 54) RBs to receive 100+ touches were 25 or younger.

11) 4 rookies finished in the top 12RBs (RB3 Alvin Kamara, RB4 Kareem Hunt, RB9 Christian McCaffrey and RB10 Leonard Fournette). The next best rookie was Tarik Cohen, who finished way down at RB32.

12) Ezekiel Elliott finished as RB12, despite only playing 10 games. He’s only 22 years old.

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Receiving Skills Matter…A LOT!

13) 3 of the top 12 RBs scored more fantasy points in in the passing game than by running the ball. Alvin Kamara (RB3), Christian McCaffrey (RB9), and Duke Johnson (RB11).

14) RB11 Duke Johnson was the only RB in the top 25 to have under 100 rushing attempts. Johnson’s 82 carries ranked 52nd in the NFL.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport

15) Remember the pre-season narrative that Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton doesn’t know how to throw to an RB”? It may actually be semi-accurate: Panthers rookie RB Christian McCaffrey led all RBs with 113 targets, although he was only able to catch 71% of them, 4th lowest catch rate among the top 30 most targeted RBs.

16) Of the top 25 RBs, Jordan Howard (RB14) accumulated the lowest percentage of his fantasy points from receiving at just 18%. Looking at only rushing stats, Howard ranked 5th.

Touches Matter

17) 6 RBs exceeded 300 touches in 2017 and all 6 finished in the top 10 of RB fantasy scoring. Leonard Fournette was RB10 and touched the ball 304 times. He only played 13 games. He’s only 22 years old.

18) Extrapolating stats can be dangerous, but Ezekiel Elliott was on pace for what would have been a league-leading 429 total touches. He’s only 22 years old.

Free contradictory stat:

Duke Johnson finished as RB11 on just 156 touches, 41 less than the next closest top 20 RB! How did he do that…

Touchdowns Matter

19) The league-leading number of rushing TDs was 13, by the #1 fantasy RB Todd Gurley. He led all RBs with 19 total TDs and scored a TD on 5.5% of his touches, However…

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20) Alvin Kamara scored a TD on 6.5% of his 201 touches.

21) Out of 18 RBs to receive at least 200 carries, 13 scored at least 6 rushing TDs. The other 5 failed to exceed 3 rushing TDs: Frank Gore (261/3), C.J. Anderson (245/1), Lamar Miller (238/3), Jay Ajayi (208/1), and Isaiah Crowell (206/2).  Miller finished the highest among that group at RB16 with help from 3 receiving TDs.

22) 7 RBs scored double-digit TDs. They all finished in the top 10. RB10 Leonard Fournette was the only one to play less than 16 games*.
*Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell had already exceeded double-digit TDs when they were held out Week 17. Both were healthy and could have played. 

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images Sport

23) Leonard Fournette had the longest run of the season: 90 yards. Le’Veon Bell’s longest run of the year was just 27 yards. Among top 10 RBs, that was 13 yards shorter than Christian McCaffrey’s 40-yard scamper, the next shortest run.

Protect the Ball!

24) The Green Bay Packers were the only team in the NFL to not have an RB credited with a fumble. *7th round Rookie Devante Mays fumbled twice on four carries, but his extremely limited usage was excluded from this stat. The Oakland Raiders were the sloppiest RB crew, with 11 fumbles credited to their RBs.

25) RB11 Duke Johnson put the ball on the ground 4 times on his 156 touches. Once every 39 touches was the highest rate among the top 25 RBs.

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