Runningback Touches In Relation To Weight


I’m not sure when the dynasty community’s current love affair with undersized runningbacks truly began. Did Darren Sproles start this nonsense with his incredible 2011-2013 season totals? Was Danny Woodhead's impressive 2010-2012 run in part responsible for this? With Tarik Cohen’s recent flash in the pan season getting people back on the diminutive runningback bandwagon? Or has there always been an affinity to smaller, quicker, “gadget” or “scat” backs? This problem is not only plaguing the dynasty and redraft fantasy communities. As it appears that even NFL executives seem to occasionally forget that it is incredibly rare for a runningback to succeed at the next level who weighs under 200 pounds. Citing such recent examples as Dri Archer being drafted 97th overall by the Steelers in 2014, at the time weighing just 171 pounds. Despite having incredible college success Donnell Pumphrey (181lbs) has done absolutely nothing at the NFL level to justify being drafted in the fourth round. Tyler Ervin is another example, drafted by the Texans in 2016, 119th overall weighing in at 176 pounds. The bottom line is fantasy points are scored as a result of touches, and the majority of runningbacks 200lbs or less just don’t see the volume of playing time or touches to be fantasy relevant. Smaller RB’s or third down backs depend on big plays and a minimum of 50 or more receptions just to be anything more than a bye week fill in.

The graph below displays 2017 runningback touches, broken down into different weight classes. As expected these results matchup with my snap count data article, it's not complicated you need opportunities to accumulate fantasy points. The leaders in 2017 RB touches by a considerable margin is the 210-219 pound group accounting for 34.0% of all runningback touches. Followed by the 220-229 pound backs at 26.0%, the 200-209 pound runningbacks made up 20.0% of the touches. As expected the big backs and scat backs came in fourth and fifth respectively at 12.0% and 8.0%.

2017 Runningback Touches

2016 Runningback Touches

In 2016 as the below graph illustrates there was an even lower amount of touches by change of pace backs under 200 pounds. As only two of them were able to crack the top 50 in runningback touches. In 2017 the larger 230 plus pounds "goal line" backs were touching the ball significantly more than the smaller backs were. As was the case in 2017 it appears obvious that the gimmick backs just simply aren't getting the touches to score significant fantasy points, a they represented only 4.0% of the top 50 in touches in 2016. The big backs conversely were 16.0% of the top 50 in RB touches. In 2016 the top three weight classes remained in the same order with slightly different percentages. The 200-209 pound group accounted for 22.0% of the top 50 (3rd). The 220-229 pound group made up 28.0% of the 2016 RB touches for second place. Once again the leader of the pack is the 210-219 pound backs with 30.0% representation in 2016 RB touches.

2015 Runningback Touches

The 2015 graph which can be seen below, displays more of the same when compared to the 2016 and 2017 graphs, with a change between the second and third place groupings. Once again the smaller backs were borderline irrelevant at 6.0%, the big backs were again in fourth with 14.0%. In 2015, the 220-229 RB's accounted for 24.0% of the top 50 in touches, with the 200-209 pound gang making up 26.0% of the top 50. As was the case in 2016, the 210-219 group of runningbacks were responsible for 30.0% of running back touches. There is definitely a trend as you will be able to see in my next graph which displays RB touch data from the three previous seasons. 

2015-2017 Runningback Touches

The next graph displayed below sums up the total touches of runningbacks in relation to weight from 2015-2017, as you can see there is a distinct gap from the top of the group to the bottom once again. From the past three years runningbacks weighing under 200 pounds accounted for only 6.0% of the annual top 50 in RB touches. Runningbacks weighing between 200-209 pounds are responsible for 22.7% of the top 50 in touches over the past three years. Backs that weigh between 210-219 pounds were the highest scoring group as they account for 31.3% of total RB touches. The premier PPR scoring group weighs 220-229 pounds but had less touches as they represent 26.0% of runningback touches. The "plodders" or big backs had nearly two and a half times the touches of the small backs, they account for 14.0% of the top 50 annually in touches since 2015.

So you still wanna draft or acquire the small exciting runningback? They have the lowest overall success rate, they play the least amount of runningback snaps. As a result they score the least amount of PPR fantasy points due to the lowest number of touches among RB weight classes. The last three years of data simply doesn't lie as I have looked at it from multiple angles and in nearly all aspects. You ideally want to target runningbacks weighing between 205-229 pounds as they are statistically more likely to score your fantasy team points. Due to increased playing time, touches, and proven success rate. With that being said there just aren't as many smaller or larger impact fantasy backs left these days.