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Running Back Advanced Stat Analysis: Y/RR and Target Share (2022 Fantasy Football)

Running Back Advanced Stat Analysis: Y/RR and Target Share (2022 Fantasy Football)

Racking up points in the passing game is like a cheat code for running backs. The best running backs can do it all. However, some of the top pass-catching backs can also carve out a fantasy role as complements for a two-down-banger teammate, namely in half-point and full-point point-per-reception (PPR) formats. Finally, the game’s elite receiving backs can blend efficiency and volume and appear on both forthcoming tables.

Yards Per Route Run (Pro Football Focus)

Yards Per Route Run (Y/RR) is an efficiency metric that measures a player’s total receiving yards divided by the number of routes they ran. It’s an interesting metric because it can help suss out players running wind sprints and failing to do anything with their routes. Conversely, if a player has a high Y/RR but a low receiving yardage total, their Y/RR might hint at the ability to break out with an increase in usage. And, obviously, players who are standouts in Y/RR and run many routes are the game’s elite pass-catchers.

Leaders

When Christian McCaffrey is on the field, he's still a uniquely elite pass-catcher. As you can see, he trounced the field of running backs with at least 30 targets in 2021. So, there's a good case for CMC as the top pick in half-point and full-point PPR formats.

Cordarrelle Patterson broke out last year and is a dynamite receiver -- unsurprising for a converted receiver. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Patterson played 53 passing snaps in the slot (18.1%), 93 passing snaps wide (31.7%) and nine inline (3.1%). Thus, head coach Arthur Smith was willing to move Patterson around like a chess piece to maximize his effectiveness in the passing attack. Rookie Tyler Allgeier will probably siphon rushing attempts from Patterson. Nonetheless, Patterson is an attractive pick in full-point PPR options at his 76.6 average draft position (ADP) as the RB30.

Josh Jacobs is conspicuously absent from the table. He was tied for 25th out of 51 qualified running backs with only 1.19 Y/RR. Why is that important?

The Raiders hired Josh McDaniels as their new head coach. He frequently used running-back-by-committee approaches in New England, and the Raiders added Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah in free agency. As you can see, both backs were in last year's top-15 running backs for Y/RR. In addition, Kenyan Drake is back, and the team drafted Zamir White. As a result, Jacobs is someone to avoid at his 40.6 ADP in PPR leagues.

Laggers

It's easy to see why the Bills prioritized adding a receiving back in the offseason. First, they agreed to a deal with J.D. McKissic before he reversed course and rejoined the Commanders. Second, they picked James Cook in the second round. Devin Singletary was helpful for fantasy teams down the stretch last year, but his upside is capped with Cook as an obvious upgrade in passing situations and Josh Allen a threat to score touchdowns near the goal line.

Target Share (Sports Info Solutions)

Target Share (listed as Share% on Sports Info Solutions (SIS) and the upcoming tables) is the percent of a team's overall targets directed to the player in question. Since it's a measure of a team's overall targets, players who missed games were dinged in this metric. For example, CMC isn't on the leader table after playing only seven games in 2021. Regardless, the stat is a good indicator of which backs are used regularly and who is an afterthought in their team's passing attack.

Leaders

Austin Ekeler and Alvin Kamara were in the top 10 for Y/RR and tied for the highest target share in 2021 among running backs targeted at least 30 times. So, they did a brilliant job of blending efficiency and volume. Patterson was highlighted above, and he was a standout in target share, too.

The bullish case for D'Andre Swift in fantasy football is his pass-catching usage. However, while many gamers and analysts are fixated on what the additions of D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams will do to Amon-Ra St. Brown's target share, little has been made of the increased competition on Swift. Yes, Swift's upside is immense, but there's also a scary low floor.

Jonathan Taylor and Javonte Williams have been lauded for their electrifying rushing ability. Yet, they weren't duds in the passing game, either. Finally, Aaron Jones was discussed in-depth in the Yards After Contact Per Attempt Analysis piece. And, of course, he popped on both of these tables, as was teased in his analysis in the linked article. Jones is a reasonable target at the back of the first round and a steal at any point in the second round, especially in half-point and full-point PPR leagues.

Laggers

Sony Michel was in the basement on both tables. So, he's unquestionably a detriment in the passing game. The Dolphins signed Chase Edmonds quickly in free agency, and he'll play the passing downs while potentially leading the team in carries. Michel will compete for carries with Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, saying nothing of Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed lingering from last year's roster. Maybe Michel can claim the goal-line gig and be a touchdown-dependent option, but gamers shouldn't go out of their way to draft him.

Darrell Henderson was also on both tables for laggers. Nevertheless, he had a meaningful role in the passing game in the Super Bowl for the Rams, pacing the backfield in targets (five) and receiving yards (43) while tying Cam Akers with three receptions. Additionally, he played three of 18 passing snaps in the slot and five wide. Of course, even if Henderson is ahead of Akers in Sean McVay's passing-game pecking order, fifth-round pick Kyren Williams might usurp passing-down duty. Henderson's 131.6 ADP as RB46 in PPR leagues isn't egregious, but he doesn't have any role certainty for the Rams.

Finally, if the Bengals don't unleash Joe Mixon in the passing attack, Chris Evans is an excellent bet to overtake Samaje Perine for that gig. The second-year back ran only 73 routes last year. However, he was Cincinnati's highest-graded receiver in the backfield by PFF and had an impressive 2.11 Y/RR. As a result, Evans is an excellent watch-list player entering this year.

CTAs


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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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