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Sizing Up Running Backs
David M. Dorey
July 27, 2004
Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers
2004 RUNNING BACKS
Team Player    Ht       Wt    Age Exp
ARI Shipp, Marcel 5'11'' 222 26 4
ARI Smith, Emmitt 5'9'' 209 35 15
ATL Duckett, T.J. 6'0'' 254 23 3
ATL Dunn, Warrick 5'9'' 180 29 8
BAL Lewis, Jamal 5'11'' 231 25 4
BAL Smith, Musa 6'1'' 235 22 2
BUF Henry, Travis 5'9'' 221 25 4
BUF McGahee, Willis 6'0'' 223 23 1
CAR Davis, Stephen 6'0'' 230 30 9
CAR Foster, DeShaun 6'0'' 222 24 2
CHI Jones, Thomas 5'10'' 211 26 5
CHI Thomas, Anthony 6'2'' 226 27 4
CIN Johnson, Rudi 5'10'' 233 25 3
CIN Perry, Chris 6' 0" 224 23 R
CLE Green, William 6'1'' 221 25 3
CLE Suggs, Lee 6'0'' 205 24 2
DAL George, Eddie 6'3'' 240 31 9
DAL Jones, Julius 5'9" 217 23 R
DEN Bell, Tatum 5'11" 212 23 R
DEN Griffin, Quentin 5'7'' 198 23 2
DEN Hearst, Garrison 5'11'' 215 33 10
DET Jones, Kevin 5'11" 221 22 R
GB Green, Ahman 6'0'' 217 27 7
HOU Davis, Domanick 5'9'' 220 24 2
HOU Hollings, Tony 5'11'' 220 23 2
IND James, Edgerrin 6'0'' 214 26 6
JAX Taylor, Fred 6'1'' 231 28 6
KC Holmes, Priest 5'9'' 213 31 8
MIA Minor, Travis 5'10'' 205 25 4
MIN Bennett, Michael 5'9'' 211 26 4
MIN Williams, Moe 6'1'' 210 30 9
NE Cobbs, Cedric 6'0" 221 23 R
NE Dillon, Corey 6'1'' 225 29 8
NO McAllister, Deuce 6'1'' 221 26 4
NYG Barber, Tiki 5'10'' 200 29 8
NYJ Jordan, LaMont 5'10'' 230 26 4
NYJ Martin, Curtis 5'11'' 205 31 10
OAK Fargas, Justin 6'1'' 220 24 2
OAK Wheatley, Tyrone 6'0'' 235 32 10
OAK Zereoue, Amos 5'8'' 210 28 6
PHI Westbrook, Brian 5'8'' 200 25 3
PHI Buckhalter, C. 6'0'' 222 26 3
PIT Bettis, Jerome 5'11'' 255 32 12
PIT Staley, Duce 5'11'' 220 29 8
SD Tomlinson, L. 5'10'' 221 25 4
SEA Alexander, Shaun 5'11'' 229 27 5
SEA Morris, Maurice 5'11'' 202 25 3
SF Barlow, Kevan 6'1'' 238 25 4
STL Faulk, Marshall 5'10'' 211 31 11
STL Jackson, Steven 6'2" 233 21 R
TB Garner, Charlie 5'10'' 195 32 11
TB Pittman, Michael 6'0'' 218 29 7
TEN Brown, Chris 6'3'' 220 23 2
TEN Smith, Antowain 6'2" 232 32 8
WAS Portis, Clinton 5'11'' 205 22 3
 

The most coveted of all fantasy positions, running backs are the one position where size and age matter most.

Top 20 Fantasy Running Backs - 2003 
Rnk Team Player   Ht     Wt   Age Exp
1 KC Holmes, Priest 5'9'' 213 30 7
2 GB Green, Ahman 6'0'' 217 26 6
3 SD Tomlinson, L. 5'10'' 221 24 3
4 BAL Lewis, Jamal 5'11'' 231 24 3
5 DEN Portis, Clinton 5'11'' 205 21 2
6 SEA Alexander, Shaun 5'11'' 229 26 4
7 NO McAllister, Deuce 6'1'' 221 25 3
8 JAX Taylor, Fred 6'1'' 231 27 5
9 MIA Williams, Ricky 5'10'' 228 26 5
10 IND James, Edgerrin 6'0'' 214 25 5
11 BUF Henry, Travis 5'9'' 221 24 3
12 CAR Davis, Stephen 6'0'' 230 29 8
13 HOU Davis, Domanick 5'9'' 220 23 R
14 NYG Barber, Tiki 5'10'' 200 28 7
15 MIN Williams, Moe 6'1'' 210 29 8
16 STL Faulk, Marshall 5'10'' 211 30 10
17 SF Barlow, Kevan 6'1'' 238 24 3
18 NYJ Martin, Curtis 5'11'' 205 30 9
19 CIN Johnson, Rudi 5'10'' 233 24 2
20 PHI Westbrook, Brian 5'8'' 200 24 2

Height - The only issue of height with running backs is that too short can make them harder to hit on pass routes and too tall just plain makes them too easy for the defense to hit. Most runners will tend to being between 5’10” and 6’0”, a rather small span to include so many of the runners. Priest Holmes is only 5’9” and yet has no problems getting passes. Proto-typical is about 5’11”.

Weight - This is a definite issue since it directly correlates to speed and power. There were no top 20 backs last season under 200 lbs. (though Tiki Barber and Brian Westbrook’s official weight comes with a wink). The most successful runners tend to fall between 210 and 230 pounds. Anything less, they better be fast (Portis). Kevan Barlow weighs in as the biggest back from the Top 20 last year, weighing almost as much as Eddie George with two inches less in height.

Age/ Experience - Youth be served. The top 11 runners last season all had less than 5 years of playing time (Holmes and Green having missed time early in their careers). The results suggest for most backs they hit their prime around 25-27 years of age.

The magic 30 years-old mark faces Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Priest Holmes. Notice not one back was more than 30 in last year’s Top 20. Holmes only played in 19 games during his first three seasons, so the wear and tear on him is more akin to a 27 year old. However, as with all 30+ players, the ability to avoid and heal from injuries naturally becomes more difficult with age. Domanick Davis was the only rookie that made the cut last season though typically there will be at least one Top 10 rookie and another one or two in the Top 20.  With 10 backs this season over 30 years old, we can expect more changes this season and a whole new crop in 2005.