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Running Back Volume Score

Volume is king in fantasy football. @joel_smyth brings you his Volume Score to help you target the RBs with the highest usage.

Running Back Volume Score is used to calculate and show the overall volume of a running back per game. This is done by combining the amount of volume a player earns in the passing game (targets) and the ground game (carries). But all volume is not created equal. Fantasy points begin to rack up depending on how much volume a running back is given in the red zone and the passing game. To correctly measure the value of the volume a player receives in a game; a larger emphasis must be put on carries deeper in the red zone and receptions in the passing game (especially in PPR leagues). In the Volume Score Equation, a small weight was given to volume that is more valuable, such as targets and red zone touches. A larger weight was added for carries inside the ten while carries inside the five were given the largest weight.

Players to Highlight: 

Christian McCaffrey

No surprise, CMC is the #1 on the chart. Not only is Christian McCaffrey producing at an unreal rate this season, but he has the volume to sustain it, to an extent. He is averaging a massive 27 combined carries and targets per game with nearly 4 being inside the red zone which is important to a smaller, more explosive back. With consistent high volume, no threat what so ever in the backfield, and all the skill in the world, look for Christian McCaffrey to maintain his top tier running back level for the rest of the season and years to come. 

Leonard Fournette

The player I am most excited to watch how the rest of his season goes, Leonard Fournette. Unreal volume, including 4.8 red zone touches per game and the second-highest volume score, yet, only one touchdown. Rough season for Fournette? Not quite, a top 5 running back halfway through the season averaging nearly 18 points per game, with one touchdown! Fournette is being treated like a king compared to his first two seasons in the NFL as Blake Bortles has moved on to the Rams and rookie sensation Gardner Minshew along with Nick Foles have stepped into the role greatly affecting the offensive production. Although the Jacksonville offensive line is below average, Fournette’s yards per carry has jumped up by over a yard to 4.8 per carry. When you add in his higher usage in the passing game unlike seasons past along with 19 carries per game, good things happen. Positive regression is coming. Touchdowns are coming. A lock to be a top fantasy running back as long as the volume and quarterback play stay at this level where there are no signs of changing the style in Jacksonville. Looking ahead, the fantasy playoffs for Fournette (weeks 14-16) have very favorable matchups week in and week out. Chargers, Raiders, and Falcons all are teams that Fournette should handle with ease especially as all three should be evenly competitive contests. With Jacksonville trending up as an offense and loyalty towards Fournette long term, Fournette is a worthy candidate to buy in trades while the production is still below expected. I believe he will be a safe option barring another injury in the seasons to come as well as being the stud back to bring home the trophy this season with his favorable playoff schedule.   

Tevin Coleman-

Averaging 14.8 points per game this season, Tevin Coleman has been freed in San Fran. Coleman is a trustable starter for now as, despite the lack of targets in the passing game, he is earning nearly all of the red zone work for this 49ers team. This is especially important as the undefeated 49ers have dominated on defense and lead the league in running plays at 57.31% resulting in a high volume of red-zone runs. The downside of Tevin Coleman comes as the long-term threat of Matt Breida. The young back has incredible talent and has resulted in great production when he gets his touches. The 49ers are committed to Tevin Coleman as the red zone back, but Matt Breida always has the chance to pass Tevin Coleman in the upcoming years. I believe the eye test favors Matt Breida which worries me for Tevin Coleman’s future in San Francisco as if the volume were to slow down, so would the value of Coleman’s fantasy production.

Devin Singletary

The promising back in Buffalo has an interesting future ahead of him that could result in very favorable volume. Although Devin Singletary is only currently averaging 8 carries per game, I believe he will be the future of this backfield for the long term. After his breakout week against Washington this weekend, Singletary showed the production he can provide when given the volume he deserves. Frank Gore, who is averaging 13.3 carries per game, is 36 years old. He has also gotten 100% of the goal-line work this season prior to this weekend where Singletary got his first 3 carries from inside the ten-yard line. Once Gore is out of Buffalo, which I hope would be soon, Singletary will get the bulk of the work in Buffalo who not only has a young offense with an elite defense, but an offensive line ranked #1 in the NFL in adjusted line yards. Give the talented 22-year-old back the red zone and overall carries in this Buffalo offense along with a run threat at quarterback and we might see RB1 production for years to come. Devin Singletary will be in Buffalo for the next 3 seasons at least while Frank Gore’s contract ends at the end of the 2019 season. Buffalo is focused on the future, and so should you.

RB Volume Score Chart
All carries and targets are in terms of amount per game*

The midway point in the season provides enough data to show trends and be useful for evaluating running backs. Week to week changes would not significantly impact the scores to date. At the end of the season I will run the numbers again and see if the trends held up.

Give me a follow on twitter @joel_smyth, let’s talk fantasy football. If you haven’t joined the #NerdHerd check it out for just $2.99 per month. Get rankings, buy/sell tool, Rookie Film Room and more.

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