Performance Based Value: Fullbacks

Nathan Jahnke's analysis of the value for money teams got from their fullbacks highlights why the position is so seldom home to any big earners.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Fullbacks

In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Performance Based Value” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2012. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it here, but in short:

• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2012
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)

So, how about we tell you who the most overvalued fullbacks in the league are?

1. Greg Jones II, Jacksonville Jaguars

2012 Cap Hit: $3.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$3.1m

A number of factors have led Jones to be the most overvalued fullback of 2012. The first is that he was at the end of a five-year contract, so his cap hit was higher than any previous year with Jacksonville. The second is that he played in just 246 snaps, which was just the 20th most for fullbacks. Any time they tried to give Jones the ball it didn’t work out well, as he had two dropped passes, and 60% of his carries went for 1 yard or less.

2. Vonta Leach, Baltimore Ravens

2012 Cap Hit: $4.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.4m
Value Differential: $-1.9m

While Leach was our highest rated blocking fullback in 2012, the issue here was that only three fullbacks made half as much money as Leach did. There are plenty of fullbacks that are at least half as good at blocking as Leach is, which brought his value down some. Then there are players like Marcel Reece and Mike Tolbert who are decent blockers but also add value in running and receiving, which Leach did not as much. While his Performance Based Value pays him handsomely for a fullback, he was still paid a big chunk of money for just a blocking fullback.

3. John Kuhn, Green Bay Packers

2012 Cap Hit: $2.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$1.6m

While Kuhn was arguably the best pass-blocking fullback in 2012, he was only an average run blocker at best. He was asked to carry the ball 22 times, which was third most for fullbacks, but his 2.6 yard rushing average led him to be our third-lowest rated rushing fullback. He was the fourth-highest paid fullback in 2012, which is far too much for someone who is only an average run blocker.

4. Michael Robinson, Seattle Seahawks

2012 Cap Hit: $2.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $960k
Value Differential: -$1.5m

During the first two-thirds of the season, Robinson had four games where his run block rating was below -1.0, which ultimately led him to be a below average run blocker. While he heated up at the end of the season with the rest of the Seahawks, it wasn’t enough to make him the third-highest paid fullback in 2012.

5. Le’Ron McClain, San Diego Chargers

2012 Cap Hit: $1.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$1.1m

The takeaway message of this article is basically that you shouldn’t pay fullbacks, as McClain makes it a perfect five for five in terms of the highest paid fullbacks in 2012 also being the most overvalued. In his first year with the Chargers, his -4.5 Block Rating was the second-lowest in the league. So few fullbacks in the league get paid more than the minimum, so if a player was at all below average in this system they received the minimum.


Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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