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The Best and Worst Running Backs - Fantasy Football NextGen Season Review

Nick Chubb - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Time's up! The 2022 fantasy season is done and gone for good. Whether you play in a redraft league or are part of a dynasty format, the days of sitting at the edge of your couch and biting your nails are over. We have a tough eight-month desert to walk through ahead of us, but hey, the real NFL players are this close to kick-off and we will still enjoy football for another month and change, so you better get to it while it lasts! With the numbers in place and the games finished, it's time to wrap up the series and take a final look at who was who during this 2022 season.

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 previous 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 NGS-primer. Now, let's get to the data!

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The Best and Worst Running Backs - NextGenStats

The season, at least for us fantasy nuts, is finally over. That is nothing good for our enjoyment of the fantasy game, but it is a time of calm and peace to enjoy the real NFL playoffs that we're also invested in. With all of the regular season numbers now in place, it is time to wrap up the NextGenStats series position by position.

Today, I will go through the running back position and will provide a final update on how the league's rushers have done in the different metrics we've already tackled during the season. I will only show a small number of names for each category, present the correlation with the fantasy points averaged by the player, skip the gory details, and instead, provide a new "combined" leaderboard at the end of the column.

Keep in mind also that 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 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 90 rushing attempts.

 

Running Backs Efficiency

Correlation with Rushing Fantasy Points: negative-24%

Leaders and Trailers:

 

Percentage of Stacked Boxes Faced

Correlation with Rushing Fantasy Points: 28%

Leaders and Trailers:

 

Average Time Behind The Line Of Scrimmage

Correlation with Rushing Fantasy Points: 14%

Leaders and Trailers:

 

ATT & YDS & Y/A & TD

Correlation with Rushing Fantasy Points: 86% / 88% / 27% / 85%

Leaders and Trailers:

 

RYOE & RYOE/A & ROE%

Correlation with Rushing Fantasy Points: 53% / 36% / 11%

Leaders and Trailers:

 

Combined NextGenStats Leaderboard

To build this leaderboard, I used every metric that is part of the NGS site and put everything together in a combined score I labeled "NGS" in the following table.

The calculation of each player's NGS score is simple. I calculated where each player ranked for each metric and then multiplied that rank for the correlation between that metric and my ruFP/G metric. Players ranked higher (closer to one) in each category will have lower scores for those categories.

In the end, I added up each player's scores from all of the categories, getting a single NGS score.

The lower the NGS, the better the player for fantasy.

Each category was already weighed given its correlation with the ruFP/G metric. Here are the results:

 

Running Back Leaderboard Results

Nick Chubb is your Rushing King, folks.

I know that there will be detractors out there still favoring Derrick Henry, but Chubb was the best rusher looking at it from an NGS perspective and arguably from both a real/fantasy angle.

Chubb only lost the total rushing tally to Henry by a mere seven yards, but he reached his mark on 47 fewer carries for a 5.0 YPC average to Henry's 4.4 YPC figure.

The fight for the no. 1 position on the combined NGS leaderboard was incredibly tight, though, with a mere 0.9-point separation between Chubb and Henry. The distance from the top two to no. 3 Josh Jacobs wasn't that big, but of course notable nonetheless compared to how close Chubb and Henry finished.

Chubb finished inside the top five in five different NGS categories while Henry only did so in four. Chubb is the only player this season with as many as five such finishes.

Both Henry and Chubb topped one category each. Khalil Herbert bested them with two different top finishes in Y/A and RYOE/A. No other player topped more than one category.

Melvin Gordon was the absolute-worst NGS player of the season. He trailed everybody in three different statistical categories while also finishing in the bottom five in six different ones. Only one more player logged six different bottom five finishes: Michael Carter of the Jets.

No rusher had five different bottom five finishes other than Gordon and Carter, with fellow New York Jet James Robinson being the only one with four such bad finishes.

J.K. Dobbins is the only running back with at least two top five and two bottom five finishes this season. In fact, he finished inside the top five in three different categories.

Chubb won the NGS rushing crown while still finishing dead last in one category: TLOS. Henry didn't rank outside of the top 30 in any statistical category.

Kenneth Walker III (seventh) is the highest-ranked player among those with at least two bottom five finishes. Najee Harris is the next-best but already at a low 19th place. Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott are the other two rushers with one bottom five finish ranked between Walker and Harris.

The correlation between ruFP/G and NGS scores is at a very strong 92% for the 2022 season.

That eight-percentage-point gap explains the small differences in both ranks:



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