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Fantasy Football: Running Back Receiving Efficiency

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fantasy football

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles (43) runs the ball during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been following C.D. Carter (@CDCarter13) and I (and you should be) on the Twitter Machine recently, you know that the  both of us are scratching the surface on Fantasy Points Per Route Run (FPPRR).

Stemming from fantasy points per snap and points per target — as compiled by the mathematical wizards at Pro Football Focus (PFF) — this allows us to weed out the majority of touchdown dependent players at the receiving positions. Since the tight end (I’m obligated to pay C.D. royalties with every use of TE in any post) and running back positions are asked to play multiple roles in an offense (run block, pass protect, carry and receive the ball), this gives us a far more accurate gauge on these players over a stat like points per snap.

I have taken on the task of delving into FPPRR’s effect on the running back position, more importantly, its role in Point Per Reception (PPR) scoring.

To begin, I have taken the top 50 backs in 2012 PPR scoring that are currently employed by an NFL team (apologies, Michael Turner) and removed all scoring that came from any rushing attempt. We want only receiving stats for this portion of the exercise to get a feel for which backs are providing you the most bang for your fantasy buck in the receiving game.

2012 PPR PTS (REC.   ONLY)

PLAYER

PTS

Sproles

185.7

Rice

114.8

McCoy

109.3

Reece

107.6

Woodhead

102.6

Martin

102.2

Spiller

100.9

 

Seven backs topped the century mark in receiving points last season. Backs 2-7 were separated by only 14 points total, but to no surprise, Darren Sproles destroys the competition here. The Saints back outscored the second place Ray Rice by nearly 71 points in the passing game, despite missing three games.

To get an idea of how ridiculous that is, the back that was 71 points away from the second place Rice was DeAngelo Williams (43.7 points) all the way down at running back 27. On top of that, those receiving only points that Sproles posted would’ve made him the 28th highest scoring wide receiver in PPR scoring last season, ahead of guys like Torrey Smith, T.Y. Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald, Jordy Nelson and Dwayne Bowe.

Now that we’ve identified the big guys overall, who were the most efficient backs on a per route basis?

2012 FPPRR LEADERS

PLAYER

ROUTES

FPPRR

Sproles

335

0.55

Spiller

241

0.42

McCoy

280

0.39

Jackson, Fred

159

0.39

Brown, Ronnie

218

0.39

Rodgers, J

267

0.37

Mathews

173

0.37

Thomas, Pierre

220

0.37

Woodhead

275

0.37

 *Leaders with 100+ snaps in route

Interestingly, there are three sets of teammates in the top 9. Fred Jackson, who, I know, has turned 32 years old, is being seriously undervalued in leagues for his cost. He will have a role in the new Buffalo offense, even if that role is reduced due to his age and recent injury history.

He has five consecutive seasons with 30 plus receptions and Doug Marrone will find ways to use him, despite the upcoming fantasy deliverance of C.J. Spiller. Pierre Thomas has always been a favorite in fantasy circles despite never really getting a full chance to unleash his efficiency. The Chargers duo is a big reason why you should be acknowledging Danny Woodhead at draft time as well.

Sproles of course pops up again on the top of the list. His .55 FPPRR in PPR would be the 7th highest at the wide receiver position, behind only Pierre Garcon, Percy Harvin, Brandon Marshall, Michael Crabtree, Andre Johnson and Randall Cobb.

2012 FPPRR LOWEST SCORERS

PLAYER

ROUTES

FPPRR

RANK

Ridley

177

0.06

50

Morris,A

193

0.09

49

Ingram

71

0.13

48

Brown, Bryce

147

0.13

47

Green Ellis

236

0.14

46

Johnson, Chris

366

0.16

45

 

On the bottom end, we get more of what we expect. Ridley was largely inefficient in the passing game. His 11.1 receiving points were only better than Mark Ingram‘s 8.9. Ridley ran ran 106 more routes than Ingram in 2012.

Green Ellis isn’t a shock either, and maybe Cincinnati is onto the stat as well since the Bengals passed on other backs in the draft to select receiving threat Giovanni Bernard. The name that sticks out the most on this list is Chris Johnson, a guy who has over 35 receptions every year of his career. Everyone is already aware of his struggles running the ball last season, but he had an equally disappointing campaign as a receiver.

There’s a few components that go into FPPRR. Mainly, just how often are guys being targeted per route, and who catches the most passes per snap in route. Out of the same 50 players, the median for Routes per Target was once every 6.2 routes.

Twenty players were under five snaps in route per target with Mathews leading the way at once every 3.3 routes. The median for routes per reception was 8.1 routes, with 14 players besting a reception per six routes run. The mean for FPPRR was .28 for the top 50.

Knowing those averages, let’s look at some of the names that we all care about in drafts come August.

PLAYER

ROUTES

RT/TGT

RT/REC

FPPRR

Spiller

241

4.4

5.6

0.42

Charles

204

4.7

5.8

0.32

Rice

342

4.3

5.6

0.34

Foster

364

6.9

9.1

0.2

Peterson

283

5.9

7.1

0.25

McCoy

280

4.4

5.2

0.39

McFadden

258

4.5

6.1

0.29

Mathews

173

3.3

4.4

0.37

Ridley

177

16.1

29.5

0.06

Lynch

210

7.5

9.1

0.23

Morris

193

12.9

17.6

0.09

Johnson,C.

366

8.3

10.2

0.16

Martin

317

5.4

6.8

0.31

Forte

274

4.6

6.2

0.31

Richardson

317

5.2

6.2

0.3

Sproles

335

3.6

4.5

0.55

Jackson, S.

323

6.6

8.5

0.22

Spiller, once more, jumps off the page, as does Jamaal Charles, who is set to see a career high in targets and receptions in Andy Reid’s aerial attack.

If you’re in a PPR league and are on the fence about a player,or looking for a tie breaker between two similar players,  FPPRR is nice tool to add to your fantasy portfolio that may give you an edge in selecting the more efficient player. Over the summer leading into draft time, we will be looking more at FPPRR and will keep it going throughout season.

*Target and Route data provided by ProFootballFocus.com

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