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Doing With What You’ve Touched

Ahmad Bradshaw at #1, MJD at #2, Adrian Peterson #3, LT #4,
followed by Marion Barber and Brandon Jacobs at #5 and #6. Any guess as to what these rankings are based
on? An insane Giants fan’s draft board? Maybe the first six picks in the annual Southwest Virginia Regional Jail draft? Here
we’re having a look at RB production from 2005 to 2007, specifically, fantasy
points per touch.  The NFL playoffs are are not taken into account here, since most fantasy leagues don’t include them.  A ‘touch’ here is
defined traditionally as either a rushing attempt or a reception. Out of our own Tank’s top 50-ranked,
non-rookie RBs going into the 2008 season, the aforementioned players do in
fact take the top six spots in that order based on standard scoring (including
-1 for fumbles lost) in non-PPR leagues.
Of course, Bradshaw completely drops out of the picture if we factor in
any reasonable amount of minimum touches. However, there’s still plenty of useful information
to take away from production stats.

Non-PPR Leagues

Here is the top 10 of the list for non-PPR leagues with RBs who’ve
touched the ball at least 300 times:




Interestingly, MJD’s production-per touch is

significantly higher than LT’s. The only larger difference between
consecutive players in this chart is between Jacobs and Westbrook. Granted, MJD
has touched the ball 419 times to LT’s 1169 times in this three year span, but
it’s a safe bet that MJD will post top five RB numbers during any time that
Fred Taylor misses (which is always a possibility with a 32-year old RB
with injury history).

Also of note is Jacobs’ production, which is quite amazing
considering he only scored four rushing TDs last season, but is largely due to
his TD-engulfing, thunder role to Tiki Barber’s lightning in ’05 and ‘06. Would you believe that Jacobs only scored one
more rushing TD than Derrick Ward last season?
Even more astounding is the fact that Rueben Droughns was the designated
goal-line back for a large part of last season (even when Jacobs was healthy),
vulturing six rushing TDs! With a
complement back like Bradshaw this season, Jacobs should garner just about every
goal-line touch, especially when you consider that he’s got about six inches
and 50 pounds on Droughns (who might be cut soon anyway). Dr. Mr.
Coughlin: please give Jacobs the goal-line touches this season. That should be a no-brainer. Jacobs is not a top seven RB going into the
fantasy season almost purely because of health issues. But with this kind of production per touch,
he’s almost assured to finish in the top seven in RB fantasy points if he stays

Another interesting tidbit to take away here is DeAngelo
Williams’ production cracking the top ten.
For this reason, I believe he’ll touch the rock plenty more times than
J. Stew owners will want to believe.
Combine this with Stewart being a rookie and coming off a toe injury, I
believe he’s going a bit too high in early drafts.

Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, Clinton Portis, Ronnie Brown, and
Chris Brown finish out the rest of the top 15 in that order.

Now let’s take a look at the bottom 10 of this list for
non-PPR leagues with RBs who’ve touched the ball at least 300 times:




It should be no surprise to fantasy vets that Lendale White
is near the bottom, but he’s

by far
dead last on the compiled list of 50 RBs.
He would probably be even further down if the field were expanded to
include more RBs. Throw electric Chris
Johnson into the mix of a really bad offense, and Lendale owners will find
plenty of disappointment this season.

This chart doesn’t bode well for the Jones family name, with
poor fantasy production running in the family at #48 and #49. At least Lendale has only 398 touches to his
name. The Jones brothers combined for
1765 over the past three years.

Dunn didn’t get many goal-line touches the past three years,
and everyone knows Edge has slowed down recently. Some will be surprised to see Fargas here
considering his production last year, but take away his four TDs last season,
and he has only one other in the past three seasons. What should be alarming is that fact that
Willis McGahee is so low right around the supposed prime of a RB’s career. His TD numbers are low for an every down
back, with only 19 TDs in 878 touches the last three years. Also of note is that Chris Brown made the top
15, and Ahman Green made the bottom 10.
This could be an indicator of who will carry most of the load in Houston this season, but
I use the word ‘most’ very loosely here when you factor Steve Slaton, Chris
Taylor, and Darius Walker (the Texans’ 2007 leading rusher) into the mix. Stay away from the RB situation in Houston.

Now let’s compare RBs in this list that have between 175 and
300 touches (the only two non-rookies in the Tank’s top 50 with less than 175
touches the past 3 years are Bradshaw and Fred Jackson):




To no surprise, Adrian Peterson is way ahead of the pack
here. As I mentioned at the beginning,
Peterson still ranks #2 behind MJD (and by a relatively large margin) when you
throw him in with the backs who’ve touched it at least 300 times in the last
three years. Jerious Norwood should touch the rock a lot more than
Turner owners would like, and it should be noted that most of Turner’s
production came against tired, second-string, disheartened defenses.

Selvin Young would be much higher on the list had he scored
more than just one TD last season. His production numbers will move up after this season.

Marshawn Lynch owners should not at all be worried here,
especially with sounds of him being more involved in the passing game in an
already run-heavy offense (which should be better off than last season). Also, he has the most touches out of all the
RBs in this chart, which has a large impact on production.

PPR Leagues

Here is the top 10 of the list for PPR leagues with RBs
who’ve touched the ball at least 300 times:




Despite LT’s proficiency in the passing game, MJD’s
production difference between LT’s is even higher in PPR leagues; about a .07
point difference per touch in non-PPR versus about a .13 point difference per
touch in PPR leagues.  That’s almost double the difference. With all due respect to Fred Taylor, Dear Mr.
Del Rio: give MJD the damn ball.

An already well-known fact, Reggie Bush’s relative production
rises significantly in PPR leagues.
Westbrook also gets a fairly large increase in relative production in
PPR leagues. Oddly, Steven Jackson holds
the same relative production ranking in PPR and non-PPR leagues, despite the
fact that he is heavily involved in the passing game. Is he really worth bumping up in your
rankings for PPR leagues versus non-PPR?

As hard as it is to believe, the other Adrian Peterson makes
an appearance here, if not only because he barely made it over 300 touches the
past three years (301) and handled a lot of third-down duty for Chicago.

DeAngelo Williams, Frank Gore, Kevin Jones, Ronnie Brown,
and Earnest Graham finish out the rest of the top 15 in that order.

Here’s a look at the bottom 10 of the list for PPR
leagues with RBs who’ve touched the ball at least 300 times:




You might think it’s strange that Rudi cracked the bottom 10
of the PPR list, but he’s actually only two spots away from cracking the bottom
10 for non-PPR leagues. Willie Parker
barely misses the bottom 10 here, edging out Edge by about .03 fantasy points per
touch. Lendale White clearly does the
least with his touches, regardless of the format.

And finally, let’s compare production with RBs who have
between 175 and 300 touches in PPR leagues:




Shockingly, Michael Pittman jumps ahead of Peterson, mostly due
to Pittman’s historically heavy involvement in passing situations and
Peterson’s lack thereof in his lone season (Pittman has 109 in three years to
Peterson’s 19 last season). This should
be a strong indicator that Pittman will be productive in passing situations in Denver. Ryan Grant also gets a few bumps down due to
his relative lack of receptions for a full-time back last year.


Of course, as is the case with most fantasy stats, this
should all be taken with a grain of salt.
Needless to say, you’re not going to draft Michael Pittman over Adrian
Peterson or Leon Washington over Ryan Grant, in any format. And despite MJD being by far the most
productive RB per touch the past three seasons, you’re still not going to draft
him as a top 10 RB. Most of the
part-time RBs that have such a high level of production do so in large part
because they share touches, keeping them fresh and generally allowing them to
do more with less. As well, it’s
sometimes difficult to compare RBs who have just one or two years under their
belt to veteran RBs. Also
realize that some RBs (such as Larry Johnson) were in significantly different
offenses two or three years ago.

Still, these numbers are useful if you need something to
help decide between an MJD and a Jamal Lewis (who is in the bottom ten in both
formats), the Jones brothers, or between a Rudi Johnson and an Edgerrin James. Additionally, the study shows the relative
ranking differences between RBs over the past three years in PPR versus non-PPR
formats. It’s also interesting to see
who has a good chance to put up big points out of the part-time or backup RBs
given a heavier load.

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