Backs & Fronts – Week 5

Scott Spratt uses FAYE, a measure of running back effectiveness relative to defensive fronts faced, to evaluate the running back performances in Week 4.

| 2 years ago
120111-lesean-mccoy-400

Backs & Fronts – Week 5


120111-lesean-mccoy-400Before the season, I introduced a pair of new statistics, front-adjusted yards over expectation (FAYE) and front-adjusted yards over expectation per carry (FAYE/C). The idea behind them is simple. Running backs perform better when there are fewer defenders in the box. That means that backs who play for teams who consistently see fewer than seven men in the box have a nice advantage. It also means that not every back with an above-average YPC mark is an above-average back.

The safest place for big-name backs may have been the sidelines in Week 4, as most of the early-season underachievers buried themselves even further on Sunday.

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Scott Spratt was named Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He also writes for RotoGraphs and contributes to ESPN Insider as a research analyst for Baseball Info Solutions. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter – @PFF_ScottSpratt

  • beersofatvsunday

    If a team takes advantage of 7+ men in the box, wouldn’t the D change. Is it more reasonable to sell than expect adaptations?

    • Scott Spratt

      I’m not sure I follow. I suppose an offense could take advantage of consistent 7+ men in the box by using more play action, but at least so far this season, I’m seeing consistencies with some defenses (e.g. Raiders) and against some offenses (Eagles).

      • beersofatvsunday

        Eagles are a shaky 3-1 and have gotten some big pass plays, so the D has stopped McCoy and sacrificed some downfield. If the Eagles keep winning 3 out of every 4 with the passing game, would you expect to keep seeing the 7 man fronts? As an owner of McCoy, I have to think the 7 man fronts will go away if they don’t translate to wins.

        • Scott Spratt

          Ok, I understand your question, but I don’t agree with your conclusion. The Eagles are 3-1, but both Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy have performed worse this season that last season, so I feel like the collective difference in defensive approach their opponents are taking is working. Meanwhile, I speculate the bigger different might be the introduction of Darren Sproles to the offense, who now takes more of the carries on obvious passing downs and leaves McCoy the work on more predictably rushing downs.

          • beersofatvsunday

            I’m not sure my conclusion is right either, it’s more a theory and the defense does seem to be working. With their o-line issues they’re lucky to be 3-1. They have performed worse but may well improve. I don’t think opponents will let them continue winning without trying something different. The D won’t be happy with stopping McCoy and losing. Agree Sproles a factor, but only 3 rushes and 5 receptions past 2 games.

  • Gary Althiser

    These articles are gold, Scott, and it’s nice to see someone recognize Frank Gore’s brilliance. I have never seen anyone with vision like his. He spent so many years in SF behind atrocious offensive lines, but still produced 1,000 yard seasons. You put it perfectly, he is the most underappreciated great back of his era.

    • Scott Spratt

      Thanks, Gary.

  • dp

    good stuff here man. highly appreciated