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Running Back Vision: Primer

Rookie landing spots drive fantasy draft board adjustments. @FFB_Vern with help from @josh_ff bring the edge of scheme fit for RBs via RBVision!

The draft is upon us! While this year’s draft will be a little different, perhaps we can achieve a better outcome in our drafts. Running Back Vision (RBV) is here to help us value running backs from a different perspective. For all positions, ‘fit’ is paramount to reach a prospects ceiling, and RBV can give dynasty players a way to look at RBs and their fit.

As you probably heard in the video, we watched 1300+ carries across 18 different RB prospects. We charted the consistency of their vision and burst, while tracking the run blocking scheme and offensive line performance. While this system has it’s own overall score, NerdScore is a more comprehensive look at the total running back. Running Back Vision provides you with an RBV Score for each prospect within each of three run-blocking schemes: Inside Zone, Outside Zone, and Gap blocking schemes.

‘Fit’ is extremely important to success. Knowing where a prospect fits best gives us a ‘leg up’ as the NFL draft unfolds. Scores in these schemes may help us make sense of surprise selections in the draft.

RBV Terms

  • RBV Score – A score representing a prospect’s value adjusting for offensive line performance and defensive competition
  • Success – A results based metric grading the outcome of the run based on down and distance
  • Vision – A measure of vision consistency (not quality) of vision
  • Burst – A measure of how consistently a prospect took advantage of vision with burst
  • OLine – A measure offensive line performance

RBV Score Data

NFL running games will feature some combination of Zone and Gap play. Though, most teams will favor one of the schemes mentioned above over the others. These tendencies, when paired with RBV data, can identify scheme fits based on where our prospects succeed.

Zone Blocking Scheme

Starting with Inside Zone, we can see some of the standouts immediately. Be sure to take a look at the ‘OLine – IZ’ score to get a feeling of what the prospect had to deal with in their 2019 season. A score of ‘0’ is indicative of neutral offensive line play, meaning, on average, they neither hurt nor helped the runner. Negative scores indicate a more frequent occurrence of blown blocks or re-establishing the line of scrimmage by defensive line. A more positive number shows a line that got more frequent positive push or open lanes for our prospect.

Running Back Vision - Inside Zone

PlayerRBV Score-IZSuccess-IZVision-IZBurst-IZOLine-IZReps-IZ
Jonathan Taylor80.0256.6783.33602030
Salvon Ahmed78.1460.3410044.8337.9329
LeVante Bellamy77.7165.3876.9270013
JK Dobbins74.3054.970.5963.8947.0651
Clyde Edwards-Helaire68.8048.9873.4752.7846.9449
AJ Dillon68.28508452.384025
DeAndre Swift66.7443.5580.654816.1331
Zack Moss65.7040.3254.8470.5932.2631
J.J Taylor65.1443.5567.7461.929.0331
Lamical Perine63.1336.1172.2238.46-22.2218
Eno Benjamin62.8236.2572.537.937.540
Ke'Shawn Vaughn62.712563.3373.683030
Cam Akers62.0037.572.558.6212.540
Darrynton Evans60.2643.4873.9141.188.723
Michael Warren II58.8342.6870.7334.489.7641
Anthony McFarland, Jr.58.5537.558.3342.862512
Joshua Kelley58.4431.256050040

When we look at these data sets, it is important to understand the sample size evaluated within each scheme. A minimum of 15 reps is a good point of reference, but still, pay attention to those that are close to this bar in sample size. A score associated with a sample size of 10 or less should be taken with a serious grain of salt.

Running Back Vision - Outside Zone

PlayerRBV Score-OZSuccess-OZVision-OZBurst-OZOLine-OZReps-OZ
Clyde Edwards-Helaire95.5967.6588.248041.1817
Joshua Kelley93.18659066.67010
JK Dobbins91.3668.9782.767558.6229
Jonathan Taylor85.635066.6783.3311.119
Zack Moss84.5958.8258.829011.7634
DeAndre Swift84.3858.8291.1861.2926.4717
Anthony McFarland, Jr.80.8566.6774.07653.727
LeVante Bellamy74.5357.6953.85100-15.3813
Salvon Ahmed72.3045.2466.6771.4314.2921
Ke'Shawn Vaughn72.2235.7178.5781.8221.4314
Lamical Perine70.47359044.44-3010
Cam Akers68.6443.4878.2672.22-26.0923
Eno Benjamin66.1144.1282.3550-11.7617
Michael Warren II63.9345.2466.6764.2928.5721
Darrynton Evans61.7338.8985.1969.5733.3327
J.J Taylor60.6140.6262.55037.516
AJ Dillon60.4937.562.55012.516

Gap Blocking Scheme

As we transition to the Gap scheme data set, we start to see some other prospects rise to the top. This highlights the difference in mental processing requirements from Zone to Gap blocking. It is arguably harder to read Zone blocking because it is very dynamic by nature. Where as Gap blocking is often a simpler read.

Running Back Vision - Gap

PlayerRBV Score-GapSuccess-GapVision-GapBurst-GapOLine-GapReps-Gap
Clyde Edwards-Helaire98.3370801001005
Jonathan Taylor81.4860.285.7159.5248.9849
Ke'Shawn Vaughn80.6256.2565.6276.1934.3832
Lamical Perine76.2847.6276.1956.25-28.5721
Joshua Kelley69.2845.837561.1120.8348
Zack Moss67.2545.1651.6168.7516.1331
Michael Warren II65.81557553.334020
DeAndre Swift65.3236.1166.6758.33018
Salvon Ahmed64.8545.6573.9147.0613.0423
JK Dobbins64.1944.7460.5352.175038
LeVante Bellamy63.3727.2777.2764.71-22.7322
Anthony McFarland, Jr.61.0038.8961.1163.6422.2218
AJ Dillon60.3233.7562.5482540
Cam Akers60.2241.6779.1752.63-4.1724
Eno Benjamin58.7326.6766.67406.6715
Darrynton Evans55.47254050-2010
J.J Taylor51.4817.8664.2955.5621.4314

To the earlier point on sample size, it is advisable to set aside Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s score in Gap runs. While he could be a monster in Gap, it would be irresponsible to make that claim based on this data.

Moving Forward

Next is the NFL Draft, and it is advised you use the excellent work already done in the NerdScore, draft profiles, and other rookie articles on to build your personal draft boards. After the NFL Draft, fine-tune the running backs on your board with Running Back Vision to get that edge!

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