The Elusive Dynasty RB Sleeper

| 3 years ago

The Elusive Dynasty RB Sleeper

joiquePFF’s Elusive Rating is defined as “a runner’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers.”  While it is not a perfect measure of production independent of a running back’s offensive line, it is about as close as you are going to get short of a full-blown algorithm.

Elusive Rating, as defined by PFF, is a function of total carries and receptions, missed tackles forced, and yards after contact.  The equation is as such:

ER = (Missed Tackles Forced) / (Carries + Receptions) * (Yards after contact per attempt * 100)

At the end of the day, a running back’s primary function is to elude tacklers, making the emphasis on missed tackles forced in the formula appropriate.  The other performance-related variable in the equation, yards after contact per attempt, is a good indicator of tackle-breaking ability.  Below is a chart of the top 10 backs by 2013 Elusive Rating.  I have condensed missed tackles forced on carries and receptions into one category.


# Name Team Attempts Receptions Yco/Att Missed Tackles Forced Elusive Rating
1  Adrian L. Peterson MIN 279 29 2.97 67 64.6
2  Marshawn Lynch SEA 301 36 2.5 86 63.8
3  Chris Ivory NYJ 182 2 3.01 38 62.2
4  DeMarco Murray DAL 217 53 2.71 53 53.2
5  Joique Bell DET 166 53 2.38 48 52.2
6  LeSean McCoy PHI 314 52 2.38 75 48.8
7  Trent Richardson IND 157 28 1.9 47 48.4
8  Ben Tate HST 181 34 2.38 43 47.6
9  Alfred Morris WAS 276 9 2.71 50 47.5
10  Giovani Bernard CIN 170 56 2.26 44 44


Unsurprisingly, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, two perennial studs, sit at the top of this list.  Lynch had more missed tackles forced than any other player ranked here. LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, and Alfred Morris are also players who have been producing monster numbers for multiple seasons.  The rest of the top 10, however, is extremely intriguing.

Chris Ivory’s presence in a tier by himself with Peterson and Lynch confirms what we all know: He is an above average running back when he is on the field.  He averaged an impressive 4.6 yards per carry in an anemic Jets’ offense in 2013.  Ivory was a choice fantasy option for several weeks this year, shown by the fact that he averaged greater than 4.0 YPC in seven out of nine 2013 games where he received double-digit carries.  He was also in the top 10 among players at his position in standard points per opportunity. Nagging injuries continue to cap his overall fantasy football output, but I think he is worth investing in at a currently discounted price in dynasty leagues, especially given what the Jets have (not) done at the running back position so far this offseason.

Joique Bell sits at fifth in elusiveness, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who regularly watches the Detroit Lions.  While he may not be as dynamic as backfield partner Reggie Bush, Bell is extremely tough to tackle and often creates something out of nothing.  He is also adept at catching passes out of the backfield.  He is a great dynasty buy right now with Reggie Bush having just turned 29 years old.  Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson aren’t going anywhere, and the Lions just signed Golden Tate to a five-year deal.  Whoever is the starting running back in Detroit will have open running lanes for years to come, and that could be Bell sooner rather than later.

Trent Richardson may be the most interesting member of the top 10 on this list.  In my 15 years of dynasty football, I cannot recall a player who has gone from revered to reviled as an asset so quickly in the fantasy community as Richardson has since the day he was traded to Indianapolis. He has the second lowest average yards after contact of the 32 backs on this list, which is indicative of Richardson’s pathetic 2.90 YPC mark as a Colt.  The reason he is so high on this list, though, is that he had the second highest missed tackles forces per touch (carries plus receptions) on this list. This would seem to support the notion that Indianapolis did not have a standout offensive line, as he was forced to make more tacklers miss on any given touch than most backs. Richardson was also adjusting to a new system, and he had the least carries among the top 10 backs.  Anyone who is giving up on him is doing so too soon, even if he never becomes the uber stud we all thought he was coming out of Alabama. Given his youth, I would be buying at his current RB2 price.

In a move that seemed predestined in dynasty circles, Ben Tate signed a deal with the Cleveland Browns that presumptuously makes him their starting running back.  He continued to show an inability to stay healthy in 2013.  Still, Tate has been an obvious dynasty buy for some time now, and you probably won’t be able to get him for a decent price anywhere at this point. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider selling high on him if you can get a good offer.  Personally, I would trade Tate for any of the top five to seven picks in 2014 rookie drafts.

Giovani Bernard is similar to Ben Tate in that he has been a dynasty buy for awhile, but contrary to Tate I would have a Kung-Fu grip on Bernard if I owned him in a dynasty league.  He had the most missed tackles forces on receptions (20 on 56 catches) of any back on this list.  He also showed well in yards after contact for a player of his stature. New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has already promised to try and get Bernard 300 touches.  If he isn’t valued like a top five dynasty back on your league, go out and get him.


# Name Team Attempts Receptions Yco/Att Missed Tackles Forced Elusive Rating
32 Ray Rice BLT 214 58 1.52 13 7.3
31 Chris D. Johnson TEN 279 42 1.84 27 15.5
30 Frank Gore SF 276 16 2 25 17.1
29 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN 220 4 1.99 25 22.2
27 Ryan Mathews SD 284 26 2.26 32 23.3


At the bottom of the list, we see just how far the mighty have fallen in Ray Rice and Chris Johnson.  Both backs face an uphill challenge to start this year (especially Rice given his domestic issues) and are recommended dynasty sells, not that you could really get anything for them at this point.  While Rice looked totally out of gas this year, I would keep an eye on a potentially motivated Chris Johnson if he signs a “prove it” type deal.

Follow Joey on Twitter @PFF_Joey

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out our new Mock and Companion Draft Tool! Utilizing our updated player projections, run a quick mock draft and see where this year’s crop of free agents are coming off the board in early fantasy football drafts.

Joey Cartolano has been contributing dynasty, redraft, developmental and DFS content since 2013. He also makes regular appearances on PFF Radio's Dynasty Slant.

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