One of the joys of writing this column is that I get the opportunity to explore all facets of fantasy football. On the one hand, I get to spend some quality time with Mighty Max, my fantasy football supercomputer, to come up with various statistical insights that help my readers get that critical edge in the their leagues; on the other hand, I get a chance to flesh out draft theories that allow my readers to out-strategize their opponents on Draft Day.
Then there’s the times when I get to put the boots to somebody else’s theory… a rare chance for me to scrutinize the competition. Three guesses as to which type of column this will be…
Several industry veterans sound the alarm about taking runners who had logged 370+ carries the previous season too high: “Beware the curse of 370” they warn. “Anytime a runner crosses that magical threshold of carries, he collapses the following season”.
Many years ago, I decided to put this emerging fantasy football maxim to the test. I decided to pull data from the past five paired seasons (to account for recent league trends) and measure the fantasy performance of any RB that posted 370+ carries, both in the year of his 370+ carries and the following season. Mighty Max quickly returned the results:
Not a single player in the past five paired seasons carried the ball 370+ times in a season (DeMarco Murray eclipsed the mark in 2014).
So, how do we establish the “Curse of 370” as a truism? As I’ve done in the past, I decided to look at runners who had over 370 combined carries and receptions (“wear & tear”); my thinking is that touches are touches, and the receptions that an RB is likely to make (short, near the line of scrimmage) also result in the runner taking hard hits.
With the definition of the “Curse of 370” expanded, I pulled the last 10 paired seasons for a long view of the theory:
Pretty compelling correlation between runners who log Wear and Tear numbers over 370 and a decreased performance the following season. To make sure the 10-year view didn’t skew the results to a bygone era, I narrowed my view to the past five paired seasons and took a look:
For the upcoming 2015 season, I’m avoiding Le’Veon Bell in the first round of redraft leagues. Not only is he suspended for two games, but he’s facing long odds thanks to the Curse. DeMarco Murray has disaster written all over his upcoming season; not only is he in a different system which depends less on a workhorse runner, his 2014 Wear and Tear total of 450 is the highest in the past 10 years. I’d be surprised if Murray made it through the season in one piece.