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Fantasy Playoffs Rushing Leaderboards: Next Gen Stats

Folks, it's time to put on your battle armor and get ready for war as we get ready for the all-important championship week. If you are still in the playoffs, that means you have been been able to stay alive and grind through 15 long weeks. Only one thing can beat you to the finish line: yourself. But hey, don't lose any bit of hope. I'm here for another week to show you how the league is looking entering the final round of the fantasy playoffs so you can make the final pinpoint decisions of the year and bring that championship home.

To gain the biggest edge in your fantasy football league, it's necessary to understand how to apply the advanced statistics being used in sports nowadays. Back in the day, it was all about wins and losses, passing yards, and touchdowns scored. It's not that those stats are now worthless, they just don't offer enough information to savvy analysts. While football is still in its infancy compared to baseball in terms of analytics, the evolution the sport has seen lately in those terms is notable.

Each week, I'll be tackling NFL's Next Gen Stats, bringing you data from the just-completed week's games with notable takeaways you should consider when assessing fantasy players for the upcoming week. In case you're new to the series, or Next Gen Stats altogether, I recommend you read our preseason primer. Now, let's get to the data!

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!


The state of RBs After the Second Playoffs Round - NextGenStats

With the playoffs already started and fantasy owners fighting for that championship, it's time for the final round of statistical analysis based on NextGenStats data starting.

We covered receivers (WRs and TEs) last week, and we'll go through running backs here before finally covering quarterbacks next week after the fantasy season is over. Today I'll provide different updates on how the league's rushers are doing in the different metrics we've already tackled during the season.

As I did the last time, I will only focus on fantasy production as pure rushers, eliminating the pass-catching element from their game. This will concentrate entirely on their total rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns in terms of the fantasy points per game numbers shown (labeled ruFP/G). I will also include an extra column this time, "ruFP/15At", which is accounts for the fantasy points a rusher is getting per 15 rushing attempts, which would be considered an RB1 workload on average and allows us to know how different players in different roles would be doing if given the same opportunities.

Note: The cutoff is set at 75 rushing attempts.



Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • While Kalen Ballage was last time's least-efficient rusher, he missed the attempt threshold (75 rushing attempts on the season) this time around leaving the honor to Damien Williams. He and Devonta Freeman are so close, yet Freeman (153) almost doubles Williams (83) in attempts, making him a much less efficient rusher in the long run (no pun intended).
  • As we'll see later, though, Freeman is seeing a fair amount of stacked boxes (in 19.6% of his runs) while Williams is not (7.2%) so that balances their outcomes a little bit, making Williams more of an "unreasonable" yard-waster. In any case, none of them is averaging even 6.0 ruFP per game, and even in a heavy workload (15 Att), they wouldn't reach 9.0 FP either.
  • Looking at EFF and ruFP/15Att, the correlation is negative-47%. That is quite high and lets us know that most efficient rushers would rack up some good fantasy points on heavy workloads. The table above makes it clear, with all but two players in the top half averaging 9-plus ruFP/15Att. On the other hand, just three players on the bottom half are over 9 ruFP/15Att.
  • Of the 46 qualified players, 14 rushers are averaging 10-plus ruFP/15Att. Of those, just four have EFF marks over 3.65 (Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley, Tevin Coleman). Excluding Coleman, the other three are considered elite rushers. This proves that other than those top-tier rushers, most running backs either are efficient or have low fantasy point scores on average.
  • On the other hand, there are 14 players averaging fewer than 8 ruFP/15Att. Of those, only three (Leonard Fournette, Jamaal Williams, Frank Gore) have EFF marks under 3.9. This correlates perfectly with the last point. Once again, only great players or players in the right system (Jamaal Williams) are capable of over/underperforming out of the norm.


Percentage of Stacked Boxes Faced

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • There is a negative-41% correlation between stacked boxes and ruFP/15Att. This means that there is a good but not great inverse relation between facing a stacked box and rushing for more fantasy points: The more stacked boxes one faces, the fewer points he gets.
  • That might lead to confusion, though. Stacked boxes are deployed to contain certain types of players, so putting everyone on a leveled field (as the ruFP/15Att metric does) is not fair. If, say, Duke Johnson was an RB1 in his offense he probably would be seeing many more stacked boxes than his current 6.5%. That is why 8+D% is better compared to the whole ruFP/G metric, which only has an insignificant negative-4% correlation.
  • Don't throw away stacked boxes completely given that almost non-existent relation, but keep in mind that it is heavily related to the role a player has on his offense and to what teams expect from him.
  • Of the 11 players averaging more than 10 ruFP/G, only two (Nick Chubb and Marlon Mack) have 8+D% under 20%. That calls for a high correlation, right? Not so fast. At the other end, there are 10 players with five or fewer ruFP/G and five have 20-plus 8+D% while the other five have fewer than 20% 8+D%, rendering the relation null.
  • What Derrick Henry has been doing is rather amazing. He's putting up 15.1 ruFP/G while facing a stacked box almost 35% of the time he rushes the ball. That fantasy production is 6.1 ruFP/G over the second-best (Leonard Fournette) of a player facing at least 30% stacked boxes.

Average Time Behind The Line Of Scrimmage

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • You might think that TLOS and EFF are related, as a north-south rusher should spend less time behind the line of scrimmage. With three more weeks on the books since we last checked this out, the relation has gone from 29% to 39% this time. Good, but not great as an indicator.
  • The relation between TLOS and actual fantasy points is pretty much nonexistent, so this metric can be almost discarded when analyzing players in fantasy leagues.
  • Just look at the top or the bottom of the leaderboard. Marlon Mack (3.07) and Austin Ekeler (3.05) have virtually the same TLOS marks, though they're averaging fantasy points with a 6-FP variation. At the other end of the spectrum, something similar happens with Josh Jacobs (2.67) and Latavius Murray (2.67).
  • Another way of proving how unuseful this metric is for our purposes is looking at the top fantasy producers (Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey) and see how they are right in the middle of the leaderboard with "average" TLOS values ranging from 2.71 (CMC) to 2.90 (Cook) with Henry in the middle (2.78) of those.

ATT & YDS & Y/A & TD

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • The last time we checked, only three players (Mark Ingram, Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb) were averaging more than 5 YPC. That group now has seven members to it. That would include Ingram and Chubb plus Matt Breida, Duke Johnson, Gus Edwards, Devin Singletary, and Raheem Mostert. McCaffrey, believe it or not, has dropped to 4.9 but still has time to recover and get back to up 5.0 in the two games remaining in the season.
  • No matter the yards per carry, though, the fantasy production varies wildly. Only two (Chubb and Ingram) of those seven players with 5-plus YPC are averaging more than 8.0 ruFP per game, and only three (Chubb, Ingram, and Mostert) would be posting more than 10 ruFP per 15 attempts.
  • Obviously, the correlation between YPC and ruFP/15Att (59%) almost doubles that between YPC and ruFP/G (31%). On a leveled usage rate, those averaging more yards per carry are often going to get more fantasy points with only the extra addition of whether they are scoring touchdowns or not.
  • Speaking of touchdowns, some players have seen their fantasy production heavily helped by them. Aaron Jones has scored a league-leading 14 TDs and also leads the league with 13.3 ruFP/15Att. Raheem Mostert is second in ruFP/15Att (12.4) but only has five TDs. If we remove touchdowns from the equation, Mostert would be averaging 8.6 ruFP/15Att while Jones would drop all the way to 6.6 ruFP/15Att.
  • Todd Gurley has also been widely favored by his scoring (10 TDs), as his ruFP/15Att is at 10.7 factoring the TDs in, and just 5.9 without them. Nick Chubb, on the other hand, would be the player with at least eight TDs to have the smallest drop in fantasy production (from 10.5 ruFP/15Att accounting for TDs, to 7.8 without them).
  • Leonard Fournette (250 attempts), Joe Mixon (231), and Le'Veon Bell (204) keep making history, as even with that staggering amount of rushes they have each only scored three touchdowns on the year. We were expecting some positive regression but they're running out of time and would finish with disappointing seasons if this is how it ends.
  • It's not a lock, but three players are on track to reach 1,500 yards by the end of the season: Nick Chubb (1,408), Derrick Henry (1,329), and Christian McCaffrey (1,307). All of them, of course, are averaging more than 13 ruFP/G. Chubb has only scored eight TDs to Henry's 13 and CMC's 14, which makes Chubb the most valuable one as he's on par with the other two without the scoring bonus.
  • Peyton Barber's season has been rather mediocre. While he's averaging a middle-of-the-pack 8.5 ruFP/15Att, the six TDs he has scored are boosting his numbers a lot. He'd be at 4.7 ruFP/15Att without those scores, which would rank him as the worst player in the league and the only one with fewer than 5.0 ruFP/15Att.
  • Devin Singletary has spent the majority of the season limited by Frank Gore's role in Buffalo. Good for him going forward, though, is the fact that he's the second-best rusher in ruFP/15Att without taking TDs into account. He's averaging 8.0 points this year (Mostert is first with 8.6) while Gore is at a measly 5.4 points (sixth-worst in the NFL).

That's it for today. Until we meet again next week, I hope you can crush your waiver wire, set up the best possible lineup, and win the final game of the season to lift your league's fantasy cup!

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