Value Rushing Attempts

Recognize this guy…?

That’s Jamaal Charles, the top running back in fantasy football last season. Under our scoring system, he averaged 191 fantasy points per game. That’s not bad, but it wasn’t enough to outscore Tom Brady, who was the 12th best quarterback.

Or take this fellow…

Shady McCoy was the #2 running back but he was outscored by quarterbacks Alex Smith (#15), Ryan Tannehill (#16), and Carson Palmer (#17). The problem?Running backs are undervalued.

But the solution is also pretty simple:

I propose we value rushing attempts.

Rewarding rushing attempts is nothing more than valuing a player’s usage rate. We already reward receptions, which measures the same thing, so it only makes sense that we would also value rushing attempts.

Ultimately, it is a more accurate measure of the number of touches a player receives.

It also makes sense though, because so many teams have migrated to the dreaded “Running Back by Committee” approach, which further depresses the value of individual running backs. I realize, of course, that running backs still average more attempts than receivers do receptions, plus running backs also have the opportunity to make receptions, while the reverse is rarely true. So I propose we value rushing attempts half as much as receptions. We currently award 5 points per reception, and so, I propose that we award 2.5 points per rushing attempt. What affect would that have, you ask..?

2013 NFL Running Backs by Rushing Attempts/Game

Jamaal Charles averaged 17.3 rushing attempts per game and therefore would have scored an extra 43.3 points per game. That would have given him 257.7 fantasy points per game, which would have put him ahead of all quarterbacks except Peyton Manning (357.5 pts/gm) and Drew Brees (311.1 pts/gm). And he would have only bee slightly ahead of Philip Rivers (256 pts/gm). Doesn’t that seem more appropriate?

Shady averaged 19.6 rushing attempts per game, which would have been good for an extra 49 points per game, giving him a total of 240 points per game. That would have sandwiched him between Andy Dalton (245.1 pts/gm) and Cam Newton (236 pts/gm).

It also makes the running back pool deeper, by giving a few extra points to secondary backs that consistently get 10 to 15 carries but aren’t party of the passing game. And since each team can theoretically start four running backs, it’s better for the league to make the running back pool as deep as possible. Anyone who was desperate for running backs to start during bye weeks knows exactly what I am talking about.

Because this change would affect the value of players, it couldn’t take effect until the 2015 season. So we are stuck with another season of undervalued running backs. But I encourage you to think this over carefully, because I am sure that next summer we will wish we had acted early to correct this.