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The 2011 Ultimate RBBC Report
David Dorey
August 11, 2011
 

The reality with runners sharing carries is twofold really. Running backs split the load because that is the offensive scheme employed or because there simply is no known "best" runner for the team. In many cases, the lack of that dominant runner is due to injury or the team has a new set of runners. No coach yanks a hot player from a game just to satisfy a game plan. They will use what works and what wins. For some teams, that means more than one runner. Unfortunately for us in the fantasy world, there is a fundamental change going on in the NFL with so many teams opting to use multiple running backs in each game.

The statistics you will see show who the primary ball carrier was for each team for each game during the last two years. The stats are computed by each game played and which running back had the most plays in that game. Sum it up and you get how many games each player was the primary ball carrier for his team and the averages of all runs and catches of all team rushers in those games. Reviewing this from a per game perspective is much more accurate than merely doing math on total season numbers. For our purposes, I am defining a team to be RBBC if the lead carrier does not receive at least 75% of the rushing plays considering all runners used in a game, including fullbacks.

Let's take a look at what we are likely to see with how running backs are used this season:

Team By Team Review of 2009 and 2010 Primary Carrier Stats and How they Apply to 2011

Arizona Cardinals   % of All RBs in Gm Avg. Rushing Receiving
Gms Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Catches Yards TDs
2009 Tim Hightower 9 61% 55% 78% 15 10 39 0.6 5 36 0.0
  Beanie Wells 7 57% 66% 22% 17 15 73 1.0 1 16 0.0
2010 Tim Hightower 9 66% 71% 37% 14 13 66 0.6 2 11 0.0
  Beanie Wells 7 58% 64% 15% 13 13 41 0.3 0 9 0.0

The Cardinals sent Tim Hightower to the Redskins and now Chris Wells gets his third chance to show that he is an NFL quality running book. They wisely drafted Ryan Williams with their 2.06 pick in the NFL draft and now the duo will share the backfield. Same offense since new OC Mike Miller is merely a promotion up from being wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. The question here is not if there will be sharing - there will. It is if Wells can remain the primary back or if the rookie Williams gets a shot.

Atlanta Falcons   % of All RBs in Gm Avg. Rushing Receiving
Gms Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Catches Yards TDs
2009 Michael Turner 9 68% 78% 13% 19 19 84 1.1 1 4 0.0
  Jason Snelling 6 66% 66% 67% 21 18 75 0.7 3 24 0.0
  Jerious Norwood 1 52% 52% 50% 13 11 18 0.0 2 24 0.0
2010 Michael Turner 15 71% 80% 19% 22 22 86 0.8 1 6 0.0
  Jason Snelling 1 64% 63% 71% 29 24 129 2.0 5 57 1.0

No changes here much to the chagrin of Jason Snelling who discovered only he was impressed with his body of work so far. There could be slightly more sharing this year as Turner was wearing down in 2010 but he'll always be a safe play in this offense. His lack of receiving is what really limits him.

Baltimore Ravens   % of All RBs in Gm Avg. Rushing Receiving
Gms Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Catches Yards TDs
2009 Ray Rice 15 66% 65% 70% 21 16 87 0.5 5 44 0.1
  Willis McGahee 1 47% 56% 22% 17 15 79 2.0 2 10 0.0
2010 Ray Rice 15 71% 73% 64% 24 20 80 0.3 4 36 0.1
  Willis McGahee 1 55% 58% 40% 16 14 39 1.0 2 2 0.0

Ray Rice doesn't have to worry about Willis McGahee anymore. He has Vonte Leach to knock open holes and should see an uptick in workload. Favorable too was Rice averaged around 25 carries in each of the last three games of 2010. He is also a top notch receiver and should rise well about a committee this year. Ricky Williams has signed and will be a factor in the backfield and while that could approach the level of McGahee, chances are that the aging Williams won't provide more than some short yardage runs. The Ravens waited to get Williams - he is not a major factor in their plans.

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