Monday - May 20, 2019

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Fantasy Forecast(R): Workhorses, Racehorses and Stockhorses

Every season, I try to identify NFL trends that will impact fantasy football strategy in the upcoming season. Mind you, this isn’t a case of “How many touchdown passes will
Tom Brady
throw?” Rather, I try to identify general shifts in direction in order to provide readers with strategies designed to enhance their overall chances for success.

One of the more interesting trends in recent seasons has been the decline of the dominant runner. Two years ago at this time, I declared the “stud running back” to be an extinct animal, the result of years and years of neglect. As I prepared to undergo a similar analysis for this year’s article, I must confess that my hopes for a change in direction of the stud running backs were indeed slim.

The first step was to identify those runners in 2012 who accounted for at least 75 percent of their teams’ rush attempts (workhorses) or those who accounted for at least 75 percent of their teams’ rush yards (racehorses). The thinking here is that identifying such runners provides us with players that will likely be the focus of their teams’ offense in 2013.

At my request
Mighty Max, my trusty supercomputer, was quick to produce the lists of the NFL’s 2012 top Workhorses and Racehorses:

 

*- Morris was so close I figured I’d list him as a workhorse. I know, that’s awfully emotional of a stat geek like myself. Maybe I’m getting softer as I get older …

Looking at the results above, there are some facts that stand out:

  • Only one runner qualified at the original 75 percent cutoff as a workhorse (

    Doug Martin
    ); however, two (Martin and

    Adrian Peterson
    ) qualified as racehorses at 75 percent.

  • Even when lowering the threshold for inclusion to 65 percent, there are only a handful of runners that make the cut. Of those, the three top runners — those who would qualify as both workhorses and racehorses—are some of the best in the NFL: Martin, Peterson,

    Arian Foster
    and
    Chris Johnson.

Although the results appear dismal for the “stud running back,” I must say that I was slightly surprised to see as many runners qualify as workhorses and racehorses; believe it or not, the herd was thinner heading into last season. Is the dominant runner starting to make a comeback? Too early to tell, but you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye on the situation … as will Mighty Max.

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.