Several years ago I was trying to come up with a way to find the next great rookie RB; so I turned to some number analysis. I’m formally trained in accounting and I am a self-proclaimed numbers nerd, so this came naturally for me. I began by looking back at some of the great RBs that were in the league at that time. I was digging though their college stats trying to figure out if there were any indicators for future success. After a few weeks of digging, I came up with a formula using college stats that showed the indicators I was looking for. The formula I came up with is not foolproof by any means. Part of it is fact based (the college stats) and part of the equation is more subjective. What it does for me more than anything is help eliminate potential busts from my consideration.
X = last year’s would be fantasy numbers
Y = the year before last year’s would be fantasy numbers
I know it looks a little crazy, but let me break it down for you a little bit. The first set of brackets contains (Z×300). This is the subjective part of the equation. It takes the yards per carry average of the player, times what I would consider a full load at the NFL level (300 carries). This shows how many yards you can project for this player if they receive a full work load. The second set of brackets contains ((X+Y)÷2) . This section of the equation simply averages the last two seasons of would-be fantasy production. This was put in the equation to help show PPR indicators. I basically had to do something to give players with more PPR appeal their props. The next part of the equation is adding the first two sections together and dividing by 10. Here’s what that looks like ((Z×300)+((X+Y)÷2))÷10 .
I divide by 10 because in most standard PPR leagues, you get one point for every 10 yards. Last but not least, I divide the whole equation by two in order to balance the first two sections out, and so as not to put too much emphasis on either the projected yards or the past fantasy production.
Here are results from the past:
After studying the past results, I’ve come up with a line. That line is at 212. If a player’s score results in a number lower than 212, I try to avoid picking them in the early portion of rookie drafts. Other than a few outliers (Daniel Thomas and Ryan Mathews) on the positive and negative end of the spectrum it has served me well. There is one quirky thing I’ve found must be done in some cases. If you’ve noticed, Stevan Ridley’s results are in bold text. I did that because Ridley only had one year of production where he was the lead back in college. In order to not discount from players that had less of a chance to produce, I’ve had to modify my equation slightly in some rare cases. Instead of using two years of college production and dividing by two, I just use the one year. It would look like this: (((Z×300)+X)÷10)÷2. You might be asking yourself, if you modify the formula for a player that hasn’t received the opportunity to play a featured role for more than one season, then why don’t you alter it for players with injuries. My answer to that is, it’s impossible to predict injuries. With that being said if a player can go through an injury plagued season and still produce a good number in the equation (DeMarco Murray), then I’m willing to look past his injury history. If a player can’t produce a good number (Ryan Williams) I’m probably not going draft that player high in the rookie draft.
All in all, I use this formula as a basis for evaluating a players potential. Whether or not they reach that potential is out of my control. It has a lot to do with opportunity. This formula, more than anything, should keep you away from drafting that bust in the first round, and it might help you find a gem that everyone else has overlooked in the later rounds. I’m in the process of putting together my 2014 Rookie RB article, so look for that article to hit soon. Until then you, can follow my on twitter @DynastyMatt.