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Stop That Hype Train! Rashaad Penny


The Seattle Seahawks enter 2019 with high expectations for themselves. They bring back a majority of their offense from 2018 except wide receiver Doug Baldwin and running back Mike Davis. The biggest addition is second-round draft pick, D.K. Metcalf, a wide receiver out of Ole Miss. This is an offense that struggled to move the ball through the air, ranking 27th in the league in passing yards with a total of 3,093 yards. They did, however, succeed mightily rushing the ball as they led the league in rushing with 2,560 yards.

A majority of the Seahawks' rushing attack came from running backs Chris Carson, the recently departed Mike Davis, and Rashaad Penny. They accounted for 1,151 yards, 514 yards, and 419 yards, respectively. The bulk remainder of the rushing yards came from Russell Wilson with 376 yards. Overall, the Seahawks had no shortage of run production in 2018.

This season, Chris Carson remains the lead back while Rashaad Penny steps into the backup role, with J.D. McKissic moving up to third on the depth chart. We all know Chris Carson showed a lot of promise last year as well as the ability to shoulder the load in Seattle, but the main question heading into 2019 is whether or not Rashaad Penny will be able to step in and provide the type of value his current ADP of 82 suggests.

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Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA) ADP:82 RB: 34

In 2018, Rashaad Penny finished with 85 carries for 419 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also contributed a little in the passing game, hauling in 9-of-12 targets for 75 receiving yards. The rushing numbers are respectable as he averaged 4.9 yards per carry, however, the receiving totals are less than desirable. The fact that Penny was only given 85 carries after being selected with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft is a little surprising. Usually, when a team selects a running back in the first round, a much larger workload is put on their shoulders. A deeper look into Penny's advanced metrics may give some insight into why he wasn't given the ball more.

Penny was a mixed bag as far as the metrics are concerned. He was reliable in certain metrics and an absolute trainwreck in others. Some areas where he had success include his aDoT (average depth of target) and percent of snaps with a touch. His aDoT was .8, which for a running back is rather significant. It placed him in the top 37% of all backs in 2018. It is important to keep in mind the small sample size, but with a larger role in 2019, we could see this improve even further. He also received the ball on 52.2% of his snaps, which was good for top 12% among running backs. This means if Penny was in the game then there was a 52.2% chance he was getting the ball. This is good for his overall touches, but it also allows the defense to key in on him.

Penny also struggled in several areas in 2018. The most obvious area Penny had difficulty last season is with broken tackles. He was only able to break tackles on 3.5% of his touches, which ranked him in the bottom 11% of the league. This likely contributed to his sluggish positive run percent of 78.8%. This means he was only able to gain positive yards on 78.8% of his carries, which was in the bottom 36% of the league. Given that his average yards per carry average was 4.9, we can easily discern that Penny is a boom or bust type runner. This is backed up by his total of four rushes for 20 yards or more in 2018. This means that at least 19% of his total yards came on four of the 85 carries he was given.

This trend looks to be continuing based on his six carries for negative two yards in his most recent preseason contest against the Vikings. This is not exactly the picture of consistency that you would like to see in a running back with an ADP of 82. Not surprisingly, Penny also had lackluster yards after contact rate. 51.8% of his rushing yards came after contact, which is extremely low, and ranked him in the bottom 19% of the league. Chris Carson, on the other hand, ranked in the top 38% of the league by earning 63.5% of his yards after contact.

Running backs face the most contact among skill position players, and they must be able to move past the contact and gain yardage. Penny's inability to do this effectively will come at the cost of rushing attempts ceded to Carson in 2019.

Some may wish to lean on the idea that Penny will be more involved in the passing game in 2019, but they should be somewhat cautious. Penny only received three percent of Seahawk targets in 2018, and also had a drop rate of 16.7%. These placed him in the bottom 14% and five percent of running backs, respectively. He is going to have to gain more trust from Russell Wilson moving forward if he wants to contribute significantly to the passing game.

Overall, Rashaad Penny appears to be a boom or bust type running back. While he is certainly worth drafting in 2019, he does not belong inside the top 100 ADP. This is the type of player you stash on your bench and use if an injury occurs with Chris Carson, or you plug him into your flex position when your starters have bye weeks. Therefore, look to take him with an ADP of around 120-130 among the likes of Adrian Peterson, Dion Lewis, and Duke Johnson.

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