Friday - Feb 22, 2019

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FANTASY FORECAST: Curse of 325

As a fantasy sports writer (or any sort of writer, actually), you always want to be known for something uniquely your own. For me, when I finally decide to hang up my keyboard (probably soon), I’d like to think that I’ll be remembered for some of the things I helped kick off: actual Consistency Rankings (don’t get me started on hacks who make up “consistency” rankings without a shred of math to back it up), relative position value (The Best Damn Draft Theory), and perhaps my most famous gimmick: the Curse of 370.

Nothing ever stays the same, however. As the game has evolved, the days of running backs getting anywhere near 370 touches a season are just not happening any more. As a matter of fact, only one runner managed to crack the magic 370 threshold in 2016 (David Johnson, 373).

So I decided to see if there was a lower threshold that could also help owners avoid drafting a bust runner. Here are the results when I dropped the threshold to 325 touches a season (stats from 2007-16):

Not quite as convincing as the “Curse of 370,” but still pretty convincing! Note that the two runners I advised my readers to devalue, Adrian Peterson and Devonta Freeman, both declined in 2016 — Freeman by nearly 11 percent (or roughly 35 fantasy points) and Peterson by 96 percent (or 255 fewer fantasy points).

Heading into 2017, I’m advising my readers to devalue four runners:

That’s right: Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott are due for a dip in production. We already know that Elliott’s production will take a hit due to his (currently) six-game suspension, but it’s good to know that Murray and Bell should also be expected to under-produce compared to last season. Interestingly, Johnson crossed the original barrier for an expected significant decline in performance (370) — and yet I’ve seen a great number of drafts where Johnson is the first or second running back taken off the board, and in many cases he’s the top overall pick.

Every year, readers will point out how this season will be different, that their favorite runner will buck the odds … and every season, the math holds up. Don’t be unnecessarily reckless; if you’re at the top of your draft, convince some other sucker to grab Bell or Johnson, and trade down with them.

You’ll thank me in 2018, like you always do.

About John Georgopoulos

John T. Georgopoulos is a 23-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions. You can also listen to his weekly, non-sports NSFW opinions at The Riot.