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Is Joseph Randle a Top Ten Running Back?

After a lukewarm start to the season, Joseph Randle put up an exciting 28 plus fantasy points in his last outing, doubling his fantasy points from the first two weeks combined. Three weeks into the season and sitting in the top five of fantasy RB scoring, it may be time to take our first look at Randle’s campaign to date.

In Week One, Randle put up a 16-65 (3-42) line, good for RB22 on the week. He put up a 18-51 (3-42) line in Week Two, finishing as RB30. He finished as RB2 in Week Three, but his 14-87-3 (2-18) line would look very different without the pair of one yard touchdowns. Goal-line work is always a factor in fantasy evaluations. While Randle did handle two of the Cowboys’ three rushes inside the opponent’s two yard line in Week Three, those are the only three rushing attempts to date inside an opponent’s ten yard line. Randle and teammate Darren McFadden have three carries each from an opponent’s 10-20 yard line. Hopefully future weeks better clarify the value of redzone and goal line work in this offense.

Touchdowns and big plays were the keys to Randle’s fantasy scoring success in Week Three. After his first three rushes, Randle had already rushed for 80 yards. In the rest of the game, however, on 1st and 10 situations (and one 1st and 15) Randle rushed seven times for negative two yards.

So let this sink in: through 48 carries on the season, half of Joseph Randle’s rushing yards have come on four plays.

Randle’s primary role appears to be first down work, with 35 of his 48 carries coming on first down, over 70%. His four runs of fifteen yards or longer have all come on first down, but so have six negative runs, two rushes for no gain, and seven rushes for only one or two yards (not counting the goal line attempts). In this way, you might consider Randle an inexplicable and lesser version of Chris Johnson, who has been a boom/bust runner, relying on big plays to pad his box score. In fact of the 68 running backs with 10 or more carries on the year, Joseph Randle ranks 54th in NumberFire’s “RB success rate” statistic. That statistic measures the frequency rate of positive runs, measured by their Net Expected Points metric. Darren McFadden ranks eleventh.

Joseph Randle's first three weeks paint the picture of a boom/bust fringe RB2 or flex option. The good news, however, is that Randle currently has a clear and consistent offensive role, earning 16-21 touches in each of the first three weeks, and heavy offensive involvement usually equates to fantasy relevance. Until Randle increases his frequency of positive runs, though, his weekly fantasy scoring may continue to be a little inconsistent as owners are left relying on unpredictable and infrequent big plays.