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Running Back Efficiency Leaders - Phillip Lindsay, Kerryon Johnson & More


The NFL Next Gen Efficiency stat (EFF) is a measure of how efficient a rusher is with the total amount of running he does on each play. It takes the total distance traveled by a player throughout a run and divides it by the amount of rushing yards gained. The lower the number, the more efficient that player is with his rushing.

For example, if a player runs a total of ten yards on a play, maybe on an outside run toward the sidelines, and only gains two yards, his EFF on that play is 5.0. Conversely, if a player runs a total of four yards on a play, maybe right up the middle, and gains two yards, he has a better EFF of 2.0.

The players that have the best EFF numbers are the ones who are the best north-south runners, the ones who can resist dancing around in the backfield and can return the most tangible value out of all the energy they are expending. Everyone included on the list below ranked amongst the top of the league in the stat last year, amongst rushers with 85+ attempts on the year.

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Tier One

The First Tier guys below are running backs currently being drafted somewhere between RB15 and RB25 with an ADP (Average Draft Position) within the top 60. If their efficiency trends continue, it could allow them to return the value of a top-12 RB or better.

 

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos 3.39 EFF

Lindsay was the most efficient rusher amongst any running back who is currently going in the top 30 at the position last year. Christian McCaffrey (3.44) and the next guy on the list were right behind him. Lindsay currently has an ADP just outside the top 50 right now, but could certainly return low-end RB1 production, which he already did last year when he finished 12th among RBs in non-PPR and 13th in PPR.

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions3.41 EFF

The fact that Johnson was able to be so efficient with his rushes, despite the long history of the Lions’ struggles to provide holes for rushers is a major testament to his talent. If the Lions can make any strides in their running game overall, which is a focus of head coach Matt Patricia’s direction, and Johnson can stay healthy and manage a full workload, he could be in for a huge season.

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers3.45 EFF

Currently being drafted as RB15 and as the 25th overall player, Jones offers a ton of upside. He’s a great north-south runner who plays in an offense that should put up a good amount of points this year. Like Johnson, he has some health concerns, but, also like Johnson, he could easily produce like an RB1 if he stays healthy.

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts3.5 EFF

Mack brought the Colts’ running game alive in ways we hadn’t seen for a number of years last season. He missed four games, but still rushed for 908 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry. His upside takes a hit without Andrew Luck leading the offense, but his best-case scenario is still low-end RB1/high-end RB2 production because the talent is undeniable and the workload should certainly be there.

Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens3.51 EF

Despite being somewhat underwhelming last year, mostly due to sharing a backfield with the incomparable Alvin Kamara, Ingram still managed to make the most out of his touches. He actually had a much better EFF rating than Kamara, who had a 3.96 EFF last year. Ingram is a smart rusher who will return to being a team’s #1 RB in Baltimore this year and could end up delivering a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 type of season.

 

Tier Two

The Second Tier guys below are deep sleepers being drafted outside the top 50 RBs, with ADPs around 200. They’re worth targeting in deep leagues and could be absolute steals if the proper workload comes their way.

 

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens2.78 EFF

There you have it. Last year’s league leader in efficiency among eligible rushers. Bet that wouldn’t have been your guess, huh? Edwards was a huge surprise as an undrafted rookie last year, helping out thankful fantasy owners significantly down the stretch with some big games. With the addition of fellow EFF star Mark Ingram in Baltimore, Edwards doesn’t have the appeal he could have had if the Ravens hadn’t bulked up at the position this offseason. Still, with a current ADP outside 200 and more than 60 running backs going ahead of him, it’s fair to say that Augustus is being significantly undervalued.

Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills3.13 EFF

That wily veteran just keeps popping back into your world, doesn’t he? Gore was #2 in EFF last year behind Edwards, but it was a year where Gore was used much more sparingly than he’s used to. With 156 rushes on the year, 2018 was the first season in which Gore had under 200 rushes since his rookie year (back in 2005). With an ADP around 200, Gore has some value, especially early in the season while flashy rookie Devin Singletary is still likely being eased into his role.

Mike Davis, Chicago Bears3.49 EFF

While his teammates in Seattle last year, Chris Carson (3.66) and Rashaad Penny (3.87), both had solid, above-average EFF ratings in 2018, Davis was the most efficient of the bunch. Now, Davis will be battling for touches with David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen in Chicago. It’s hard to know how the split is going to be broken down, but if Davis is able to squeeze out 10 or more touches per game, he has some sneaky upside in deeper leagues, especially with his ADP currently at 200.

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