Why Jamaal Charles Missed the List

There are always top talents left out, but this season's fire starter as the Top 101's missing piece was Jamaal Charles. Sam Monson discusses the rationale.

| 4 years ago
missed-charles

Why Jamaal Charles Missed the List


The PFF Top 101 list is one of the things we do that I enjoy the most. The comments section alone of the final list makes for some pretty funny reading. In among the hysteria and lunacy always lies the odd valid criticism and the few points that deserve some explanation.

This year the thing that caused the biggest stir was the omission of Jamaal Charles from the list. The league’s fourth-ranked rusher with 1,509 rushing yards was somehow leapfrogged by multiple runners and slipped out of the list entirely. What gives?

The PFF Top 101 isn’t a list of the best players in the league. It isn’t the most talented, the first 101 guys you would want on your roster in 2013 and beyond, it is a list of the 101 best seasons of 2012, regardless of position. Charles would likely be high in a list of the best 101 players in football, and I think if we can all accept Adrian Peterson is the best runner in the NFL, Charles is one of a few players with a legitimate claim to being that No. 2 guy, but that isn’t what this list was all about.

The first point I think we need to make is that PFF loves Jamaal Charles. Seriously.

He may not have made the Top 101 this year, but in 2010 he was our top-graded RB by a good distance. While the rest of the football world was going nuts about Arian Foster’s league-leading 1,616 yards, we were telling people that Charles had a much, much better season and had he only been handed a higher workload, the sky would have been the limit.

It was a similar story in 2009 when he was our third-ranked runner and by far the best looking purely at running the ball.

So, is it more likely that our methodology became redundant and obsolete overnight because Charles misses out in 2012, or is it possible that despite racking up impressive yardage there are other factors that push him just off the list?

Much as people like to malign the KC line for some reason, in 2012 it actually run blocked consistently well — Eric Winston, in particular, excelled in that area. In fact, only Jeff Allen had any serious negative run-blocking grade with six other linemen grading positively for their work in the run game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this was the best unit in football or anything, and they surrendered a boat-load of pressure at times, but run blocking was their strength. Charles was getting a healthy amount of yardage before he needed to do anything at all.

He led all runners last season in uncontested yards, gaining more than half a yard per carry more than anybody else before contact. That number is obviously skewed by some big runs with no contact at all, but even with his longest runs removed he remains at the head of the pack. The point I’m making is that Charles had a lot of help from his run blocking last year, more than many like to give them credit for.

Charles topped 1,500 rushing yards last season, but did you know that 42% of them came on just 19 carries? The only player to have a higher Breakaway Percentage was Adrian Peterson who amassed a frankly ludicrous 40 runs of 15 yards or more and gained 1,184 yards from that set of attempts. I’m not trying to suggest that being a home-run threat is a bad thing by any means, but I am suggesting that outside of those runs, Charles was doing less than some other runners who did actually make the list.

If we put those runs to the side for a moment, Charles averaged 3.3 yards per carry on everything else. That’s not a terrible number, but Marshawn Lynch was able to average 3.6 yards per carry when his breakaway runs are taken away, so was Alfred Morris, and Frank Gore 3.7 yards per attempt.

If we look at the Elusive Rating we see another area where Charles doesn’t quite stack up. This rating was an attempt to look at what a runner does with the ball in his hands isolated from the blocking he receives. It looks at yards after contact and how many tackles the runner forced defenders to miss. Charles forced 24 missed tackles last season in total. C.J. Spiller can match that figure with his best three games and forced a massive 66 in total, on fewer touches than Charles.

Now Spiller is an outlier and almost broke the scale of the ER, which is how he got as high up the list as he did for a player given comparatively few touches, but again if we look at other runners we see Charles way down. There isn’t a runner on the list that forced fewer missed tackles than Charles did or had a lower Elusive Rating. While Charles was down in 21st place in the ER (given a starter’s load filter in snaps), the Top 5 players in Elusive Rating all made the list. The other players to make it were ranked 10th and 16th.

As the man who came up with the Elusive Rating I’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t perfect, and Jamaal Charles is the kind of player that will be screwed by it on occasion. He won’t get any credit for plays in which he simply outruns defenders to space and never lets them get in a position to even miss a tackle, assuming he isn’t touched before that footrace. In the past, however, he has scored significantly better in the rating, and there are other factors we can look at.

While the Elusive Rating won’t give Charles any credit for blazing speed that simply outruns defenders to space and is the reason for many of his long runs, our play-by-play grading will. We are the only people out there watching every player on every play and grading exactly what they do with their carries. Numbers can lie at times, but paired with the tape they’re rarely far wrong.

If you almost ignore the yardage and look simply at what Charles did with the ball in his hands relative to other runners, he lags behind again. Did he have to make a good cut, a good burst, break a tackle, spin out of the grasp of a defender, use good vision to find the hole, outrun somebody to space, or was he simply benefiting from the blocking that was there on any given play? When that line of questioning is applied to every touch Charles and every other runner had, his grade doesn’t compare. He certainly didn’t grade poorly, and was our 10th-graded runner on the season looking only at carries. When you include work in the pass game and as a blocker he slips to 14th, and when you add in the postseason (as we did for the Top 101) he drops another place to 15th.

The lowest-ranked player to make the list ahead of him was graded ninth (Rice).

It’s easy to read all of this and come to the conclusion that PFF hates Jamaal Charles, but the truth is far from it. He had a fine season, and when you take into account his recovery from a torn ACL the year before, it’s a remarkable comeback story, one that would likely have gotten a lot more ink but for Adrian Peterson defying medical science and physics to come within a hair of the all-time single-season rushing record in the course of his comeback.

Charles was one of the only bright spots for a Chiefs team that spent the year reeling from one quarterback nightmare to another and, were we picking from a list of runners to start a franchise with, he would be right up at the sharp end, but on a list of the best 101 seasons from 2012, he just missed the cut, as did dozens of fine and deserving performances.

We’re talking about a league in which thousands of players suit up over the course of 21 weeks and we could bring you just 101 names. Sometimes players just don’t quite make it, and Jamaal Charles was one of those names.

 

Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam

 

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • http://twitter.com/shaytron shayaan

    take away the best 6.7% of AP’s runs (same percentage taken from charles), and his YPC drops from 6.0 to 3.9 – a 2.1 drop, much like charles’ drop from 5.3 to 3.3. not sure why you would only take away the breakaway runs from the other guys and think that’s a reasonable comparison. take away the same percentage of their best runs and see where their YPC’s stack up.

    • PFFSamMonson

      The breakaway runs were taken away to illustrate better the median kind of average players were coming away with.

      The point was to put his breakaway runs to the side for a moment and look at what the rest of his runs were, which is the majority of his carries. They averaged less than the other runners mentioned despite a higher figure in uncontested yards, ie yards before anybody got a finger on him.

      No single facet in the article is a perfect critique of Charles’ season in and of itself, and each one of them can be influenced by something else (with the possible exception of the grading), but when they are all put together you get the picture of a guy who played at a level that didn’t quite match his overall yardage total, and that’s without mentioning fumbles or touchdowns.

      • BK

        I have to agree with Shayaan. You cant take away yards to try and prove a point without measuring everyone by the same metrics. You say he didn’t break tackles fine when I go back and watch film on him I see him dodging defenders instead of running through them. By your logic your stating that anyone could have came in an did what Charles did, then why didn’t Hillis or Jones before him? Your elusive rating to me sounds like it only accomodates power backs, which is flawed. Yes the O-Line made holes for him but isnt that what they are suppose to do? And how many times was the O-Line in the secondary blocking for Charles probably rare to never no Charles did that pretty much himself. He flat out smoked people after an ACL tear, but because of that not too much zig to his zag. Imagine if he didn’t have the injury at all, what do you think you would have seen, I think an extra 200 yards or so, but we’ll never know. My suggestion is go back to the drawing doard and find a grading system that emcompasses all types of runners.

        • PFFSamMonson

          The metric used was forced missed tackles, not broken tackles – there is a difference. CJ Spiller didn’t rack up his numbers by breaking tackles, he dodged them the way Charles did – he just did so at a MUCH higher rate and far more often.

          The system doesn’t favor power backs at all, if it did Spiller would be nowhere on the list.

      • http://twitter.com/shaytron shayaan

        yes, your grading system and analysis caters to backs with a higher median average and less breakaway runs. charles has a higher percentage of breakaway runs than anyone other than AP, so he suffers more from the removal of those runs. your whole argument is that he’s doing less outside of his breakaway runs than the other backs, but if you take away an equal ratio of each guy’s best runs, you’ll see that this is a flawed argument.

        • PFFSamMonson

          Forget the term ‘take away’. Even if you CAP those runs at say 15 yards to prevent them distorting the average on plays that the blocking has limited effect on, his numbers still suggest a far bigger influence from blocking than people want to acknowledge. Charles was getting more yardage than any other back before he had to face a defender

          • http://twitter.com/shaytron shayaan

            EVERY back in the league is influenced by blocking. unless you’re saying the chiefs had the best line in the league, I have no idea how you’re trying to justify such a bogus, unqualifiable claim.

            charles’ ability to turn almost any hole into a breakaway run is exactly what makes him such a special runner. yes, he got great blocking on some runs – so did every other top back in the league. he shouldn’t be punished or criticized for making more out of those opportunities than anyone not named adrian peterson.

          • PFFSamMonson

            Every running back is influenced by blocking, which is exactly the point I’m making. Jamaal Charles didn’t get 1,509 yards last year, the Chiefs Blocking+Charles together got him those yards.

            The point is that by all available data the Chiefs’ run blocking was far better than anybody wants to credit it with being, and better than several other runners that did make the list, meaning Charles was getting far more yards before he ever had to do anything. Yes he exploited that and then broke off some huge runs, but by and large he got more help from blocking than some other runners did.

            Stop looking at everything in such black and white terms. When we’re comparing half a dozen players who ALL had great seasons we’re dealing in very subtle shades of gray here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

            Seriously? You’re a joke.

          • shayaan

            “meaning Charles was getting far more yards before he ever had to do anything.”

            this is an absurd statement, and shows how out of touch you are with the position. his vision and burst allowed him to capitalize on good blocking – implying that he didn’t have to do anything in those situations is extremely myopic. and it’s been asked a few times, but you’ve ignored it each time – if the blocking deserves so much credit, why didn’t shaun draughn or peyton hillis enjoy a similar kind of efficiency or productivity (even on their limited carries) running behind the same line?

          • PFFSamMonson

            Well in Hillis’ case it’s because he was used a lot in short yardage, and also just hasn’t been any good. Draughn actually isn’t far off Charles in terms of uncontested yards, but he did far less on the other end of it, which is why nobody is suggesting that he had a particularly good season even in limited carries.

          • Kisersosay

            That is because of speed. Why would you penalize a player’s rating because he is faster than most?

      • Budahmon

        Maybe the Chiefs line was not as good as you guys think it was. If it was that good why did they not have a decent back-up for Charles that actually gained some yards. The Chiefs line was mediocre. They were also very inconsistent. The Raiders, not known for their defense, destroyed that OL and Charles run production. Also, penalizing Charles for having that horrendous line….and I mean horrendous (when you allow your QB to be hit on ~35% of their drops) which means that Charles was the only offensive weapon they had. No, I think in this case it was Charles that made the line look good. Having Lilja and Allen block for you is not a great recipe for success and Albert/Stephenson was not that better. WInston and Asamoah’s consistency, or should I say inconsistency, also affected his performance. No the Chiefs were a mediocre line that could not get those tough yds on short yardage situations due to their inability to handle the interior DL.

  • Dyl

    You touched on it very briefly, but I feel like a large part of the reason that Charles doesn’t break a lot of tackles is that he has great vision, is deceptively fast and quick, and he often ends up simply beating guys to the spot and not needing to break a tackle. I think that’s a large part of why he has such few yards after contact and why his elusiveness rating went down; instead of breaking weak tackles where he’s barely touched, he is good enough to avoid them. Like you said, his line was good, but not the best in football, yet he was still able to maintain a very high YPC even taking away breakaway runs, higher than I’d expect for someone with his elusiveness rating. This suggests that elusiveness rating may not be representing all of his talent.

    I’m guessing KC’s other RB’s get significantly less “uncontested” yards than Charles does, despite the fact that opponents likely are looking for the run more when Charles is in, simply because he makes those yards become “uncontested” by avoiding potential hits.

    Also, the breakaway runs, while skewing the data, are also extremely important. Breakaway runs limit the potential for error (much more likely something will go wrong on a 10 play drive with 5 passes instead of Charles running for 70 untouched) and probably (no way of really proving this that I can think of) help the passing game by causing teams to focus on the run. And they are also a pretty clear indicator of a guy having a good season, as the guys who lead the league in breakaway percent are usually among the league leaders in other metrics as well.

    • Jeff

      I highly question the criteria used to arrive at 101 top players when that criteria excludes a player like Jamaal Charles. What I question even more is 1,380+ words written in support of Charles’ exclusion. Big thumbs down from me.

      • http://twitter.com/shaytron shayaan

        couldn’t agree more. kind of sad seeing them bend over backwards to try and justify it. there’s a point when stat-whoring makes one lose sight of common sense in favor of whatever storyline is being constructed, and that point has clearly been crossed.

        • FaAmos

          Your totally missing the point, first off every RB has a different body type and strength along with there being different running styles. If JC ran more like AP or Lynch he’d be out of the league already by now and if I had a top five RB if want him to play at a high level for as long as possible and even though JC’s peers will tell you that they’re shocked at how strong he really is even more so he’s a smart runner wanting a prolonged career by not taking unneccasary hits. If Payton was your QB and instead of sliding he lowered his shoulders to pick up one more yard you’d be killing him for it. Different RB’s, different styles of running and Charles runs extremely smart with amazing patients and vision and outruns defenders instead of lowering his shoulder and aiming for a head on collision with a defender instead he uses his vision and patients to allow his lineman to open lanes and he hits the open lane as hard and fast as any back in the league

      • PFFSamMonson

        Well in the face of such a well thought out and reasoned rebuttal…

    • PFFSamMonson

      I agree 100% that the Elusive Rating doesn’t represent 100% of what Charles brings to the table. As I said before it’s not a perfect metric, but it’s as well as anybody can do to separate the act of running from the blocking the runner receives I think.

      I’ve noted in the past when writing ER articles that Charles is exactly the kind of player that does get a little bit slighted by the metric, but the point is that he has fared far better in the past than he did this season, so the flaws in the rating don’t explain away everything.

      As I also said I don’t think any one of these things in and of themselves are concrete proof, but when they’re all put together and added up it suggests that Charles’ season wasn’t quite as impressive as raw yardage totals seem to suggest. He still had a great year, even moreso when you consider the ACL, but it wasn’t great enough to make the 101 for us.

      • Jeff

        Well, wait until you get a load of Charles this year Sam. My projections have him as a serious threat to break 2,000 yards, the #4 RB in fantasy, and an absolute terror for defenses now that someone is at the wheel who will know how to utilize him. He is faster than McCoy, stronger than McCoy, and has no one but Shaun Draughn and an upright running rookie named Knile to compete with him. I’m all in, for the record.

        • PFFSamMonson

          I’d say the only thing that’ll hold him back is how often Reid gives him the ball. Would be surprised if he ever allowed a RB get close to 2k yards for that reason alone.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

            The notion that Reid doesn’t run the ball is a falacy. As a stats guy I’m surprised you don’t look into this more closely. He was around the league average in runs vs passes last year and McCoy averaged 17 carries per game. Charles is usually good for around 6 per carry. So 17 x 6 x 16 =1,632 which is close to 2,000 over the course of 16 games. Of course that probably includes some good blocking and some breakaway runs so those obviously don’t count lol

          • PFFSamMonson

            In what way is 1,632 close to 2,000?

            Reid has had some of the best backs in football, to give them merely the league average in carries IS underutilizing them.

            The most McCoy or Westbrook have ever carried in a season is 278 times. That’s 7.2 yards per carry to hit 2k. Even on Charles’ rate of 6 that’s under 1,700 yards, or no threat to 2k, and that’s if Charles gets the most carries Reid has EVER given to the two best backs he’s had.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

            Good points; we could debate forever about what constitutes “close” to 2,000 but by your logic it wouldn’t matter even if Charles went over 2k because he would assuredly have taken better advantage of his blocking and had more long runs. It’s just absurd; would you take away a baseball player’s slugging percentage or home runs just to justify a stupid list? And comparing Charles to Westbrook and/or McCoy is as silly as comparing Philadelphia Eagles teams past to the current Kansas City Chiefs or comparing Alex Smith to Matt Cassel. Apples and oranges. But keep explaining to everyone how the earth is flat.

  • Andrew

    This is dumb. Jamaal Charles leads Yards per carry in the history of the NFL. Over Bo Jackson, over Jim Brown, over Barry Sanders, over any RB that has ever played the game at a staggering 5.8 yards per carry. FIVE point EIGHT with 784 rushes demonstrate that this is a legitimate stat for a legitimately historical player.

    It is so ridiculous to claim that he is not an “elusive” player at any rate. If you watch him play, Charles makes more people miss than any RB in the league. Just because he runs at such a great angle and takes such great cuts that he doesn’t get touched doesn’t mean he isn’t elusive. How any RB can get 5.8 yards per carry with 784 carries without being elusive makes me scratch my head.

    Why would you also eliminate the biggest part of his game, the ability to break the big one because he is so much faster than anyone on the defense? If you actually watched him play throughout an entire game, you would know that your supposed theory of his big runs define Jamaal Charles is sadly incorrect. The guy has such great vision, and I bet if you looked which running back had the most 5-100 yard carries percentage wise, Jamaal Charles would be 1 or 2 every year minus the year he tore his ACL.

    • PFFSamMonson

      “If you watch him play, Charles makes more people miss than any RB in the league.” This is simply not true, by any measurement. And the reason I know that is because we’ve watched every snap that he and every other RB in football have taken over the past few years.

      • Andrew

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB3wfB2_yYI

        He literally makes the entire defense miss. You are a joke, and that is complete bs that you watched every snap because he makes these types of plays multiple times a quarter. If he gets the ball that is.

        • Brad

          Looks like good blocking to me on a busted play.

      • CB

        You might have watched every snap of every RB, but clearly your head was lodged in your rectum when detailing this article about Jamaal Charles. Cool website though.

      • FaAmos

        I’m a Chiefs fan but I’m a huge all around football fan and I’m not the homer type and am just as critical of my Chiefs as I am any team in the league and I respect what you and your colleagues do here at PFF but I beloved your missing a key part in your ratings and that’s rating a players intelligence. Everyone is talking about the QB’s and Pistol offense right now and how it could cause your QB taking unnecessary hits risking injury ala’ RG3 and there’s many different strengths of RB’s which call for different running styles. A smaller quicker back like JC couldn’t play like an AP or Lynch and last a full 16 game season. Now AP’s and Lynch’s strength is being able to run over and break defenders tackles and ask JC’s peers and they’ll tell you JC is much stronger than he looks and more than capable of running over a DB but JC knows that if he welcomed contact instead of avoiding it he wouldn’t have a prolonged career and the Chiefs aren’t winning the Superbowl this season probably nor next season and while building their D-line and recover core they’ll need a healthy JC for when they get that front seven and recover core built up to make a Super Bowl run and saying you’ve watched every run play Charles had and have the outcome that he doesn’t make guys miss is crazy to me. I think he’s much more elusive than Lynch, AP, MJD,’Foster and so on. I down think there’s more than two or three RB’s that are more elusive than Charles is. Now you did get one right with CJ Spiller being more elusive because he is and he’s a stud that if he had a better O-line and solid QB could easily carry for over 1500 yards but back to Charles remember he was putting up those numbers while on a snap count and zero QB play with a Matt Cassel who every D-coordinator knew he couldn’t throw further than eight ten yards so they brought the entire defense up and Charles used his patients and vision to still break tackles playing 10 on 11 because Cassel handed it off and got out the way just like every offense but most offenses have a QB that can throw down the field at least a little bit n

        • TheChainsawNinja

          Do you have evidence of this elusiveness? Any statistics or film that support your position?

          I also think you’re misinterpreting “missed tackles” for “broken tackles”, the stat the author is referencing encompasses jukes and stiff-arms alike.

    • TheChainsawNinja

      “This is dumb. Jamaal Charles leads Yards per carry in the history of the NFL. Over Bo Jackson, over Jim Brown, over Barry Sanders, over any RB that has ever played the game at a staggering 5.8 yards per carry. FIVE point EIGHT with 784 rushes demonstrate that this is a legitimate stat for a legitimately historical player.”

      This is entirely irrelevant. The author of this article already clarified that the top 101 is based solely off of the 2012 season.

  • Streak172

    There are 2 major flaws i see with your grading system. First and first most is as the elusiveness rating. It seriously hurts a player with the speed and vision of a player like Jamaal Charles who is hurt because he doesn’t let defenders get near enough to make poor attempts at tackles. If he was just a little slower how many weak arm tackles would he have broken? The other thing your metrics fail to consider is the rest of the offense and the defense they are facing. I would ask you to look at how many players are in the block playing against the run. I would bet serious money no other running back faced as many 8 and even 9 man fronts. This will naturally lower any running backs ypc. You seem to punish him for facing these fronts by putting such a high emphasis on his metric with his break away runs removed. Another point to note however would be that once a back with his speed get past the box players he has a greater chance to break very long runs. The stats for his break away runs show this perfectly. As you stated 42% of his yards came on 19 carries. If he got past the 8 and 9 man fronts chances are he was gone. To get accurate metrics you cannot not only punish a player for his teams strengths (having a good line) as you stated you did and then not reward players for his teams strength (having absolutely no passing game).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. PFF are a bunch of hacks. They claim to be statistically based but their criteria for everything is retardedly subjective and has little to no basis in statistic reality.

    • PFF_Pete

      Good question, and one that motivated us to do some ongoing 8-in-the-box analysis. Surprisingly, 36 RB faced a higher % of 8-man fronts on their runs than Charles did:
      https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/05/08/facing-eight-in-the-box/

  • Aldon

    So the running back who has the highest yards per carry average EVER isn’t even in a top 101 players/stats/whatever this is. This is with god dam Matt Cassel as the QB… This media hate for Jamaal Charles and Chiefs is getting ridiculous.

    I don’t care what the hell this 101 is about; Jamaal Charles should be in it regardless, there is no excuse.

    • PFFSamMonson

      Check the criteria again. It’s about one season only, so his highest YPC EVER is totally and completely irrelevant

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

        Not really since his 2012 YPC is included in his career YPC. You can admit you don’t like him it’s ok. That’s the only logical explanation for excluding him from the list.

        • PFFSamMonson

          It may include it, but that’s the only year that means anything for this list, so bringing up career marks is completely pointless.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

            Pointless? What’s pointless is your attempt to separate the act of blocking from the act of running! They are by nature complimentary and inseparable. And if you still maintain that they are not, please tell me how many yards the Vikings line rushed for and how many yards AP rushed for last year. They feed off each other and you cannot separate the two no matter how hard you try.

        • Steve

          You know who else has had a really great career? Peyton Manning. Should he have been on the Top 101 for 2011?

  • Andrew

    This guy is a complete joke, saying he watched every single snap of every single game. Remember when the Ravens defense went 50 games without allowing a 100 yard rusher? When KC played Baltimore in the playoffs in 2011, Charles had EIGHT carries for 82 yards. If the coaches knew how to use Jamaal Charles, he would have crushed that streak in a pinch. This is the same athlete and player every single god dam season minus the ACL season, and it is just pathetic to see Dwayne Allen over Jamaal Charles. Not to mention Andre Johnson over Calvin Johnson, Drew Brees at 76 and so on.

    The only point you can make from this “advanced stat system” is that it is a complete failure and needs much more improvements to even be considered as legitimate by 10 year old fans.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698462351 Matt Walker

      Precisely! PFF is to football as alchemy is to science lol

      • Jeff

        For the record – I meant 2,000 total yards. I am/was banking on 1,525 rushing and 440 receiving. I think that certainly qualifies as threatening 2,000 total yards. Sorry I wan’t more precise. Even as a huge Charles fan, I can not see a RB rush for two grand under Reid.

        Still, a Top 101 list without Jamaal Charles? In any year other than his injury? I beg Mike (Clay) to weigh in on this.

        • PFFSamMonson

          I can certainly see him threaten 2k yards from scrimmage.

          • JPP

            I despaired reading this debate. In a league in which there are 2700 players currently under contract and about 1600 on regular season rosters all Sam Monson is saying is that while Jamaal Charles is a fine football player, there are 101 others who graded out better over the entirety of one NFL season. 101 is roughly 3.75% of players currently under contract to NFL teams or 6% of the total active players on game day. Charles had an excellent personal season on a two win team. Everyone agrees on that.

            Whatever the methodology used to determine that he’s not one of this top 6% this doesn’t mean that this sites work is the equivalent of alchemy, that their work is a joke, that they hate Jamaal Charles, that he should be in the 101 regardless of what it represents or that they had an agenda in excluding him.

            If you don’t agree with something then say so, describe why that is and tell us what your basis for thinking this is. Try proving that their weren’t 101 better players in the NFL last year. Not I think this cos I do so I’m right. As PFF Pete says, You should question their stats.

    • JPP

      Calvin Johnson likely would have placed much higher if he’d scored more than five touchdowns. For 2011 he had 16 and ranked fourth. Andre Johnson only caught four. I’m guessing Andre dropped less passes, fumbled less and blocked better.

      They aren’t suggesting that one is definitively better than the other, merely that one’s performance graded better over one season. Its not denigrating Calvin Johnson.

      As for Drew Brees, he threw 19 interceptions (up from fourteen), dropped eight points from his completion percentage, fourteen from his passer rating and fumbled five times (up from one the year before). It is only fair to point out that his team rushing for 600 less yards than the season before and the extra burden of trying to overcome an historically bad defense are mitigating circumstances. But he only threw thirteen more passes than he did in 2011 and with a comparative workload his performance didn’t quite meet the previous years heights when he ranked third. This year they have him as the seventh highest ranked QB behind Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Ryan, Russell Wilson, RG III and Roethlisberger. 76th puts him inside the top five percent of NFL players, far from pathetic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Harper/100001120346802 Jim Harper

    Cabrera won the triple crown last year. No easy feat since it had not been accomplished in over 40 years. However since you like to discount the home run, lets take them away from his rbi total then there will be no triple crown winner. Did the Chiefs offensive line you are so high on only block for Charles? If we assume that the line opened holes for the other backs just as well, then why were the other backs not getting big yards? This just looks like another clear case of somebody make the stats serve their purpose. That is a practice I find despicable. Also if you take away Peyton Mannings TD receptions then he was just an average QB.

    • PFF_Pete

      You can (and should) question our stats, Jim. Questioning stats like Yards from Scrimmage is what helped spawn PFF in the first place. But what ulterior motive are you implying when you say we’re making the “stats serve our purpose?”

      • shayaan

        there’s no ulterior motive, you guys just buy into your own narratives by cherry-picking stats to support them. the removal of charles’ best runs being compared to the removal of a smaller percentage of other guys’ best runs is a perfect example of this. at some point, you lose sight of the big picture, and that point has clearly been crossed here.

        • PFFSamMonson

          Cherry picking is the very opposite of what is being done here. We’re using as many things as possible to try and explain the broader point, when YOU cherry pick ones you can argue against easily.

        • PFF_Pete

          I get your point, but our “narrative” comes from hours and hours of objective tape-watching by multiple analysts. We didn’t come to Charles’ grade from some anti-Chiefs bias, as some commenters here have suggested (just like we didn’t grade Charles as our top RB in 2010 because of some pro-Chiefs bias).

  • Tra

    lets be logically here people. We know what Jamaal Charles has done with the talent around him…. What this article does not take into context is the historically bad passing game that charles had to counter balance and lets not even begin with the issue of the predictable play calling…. run, run, pass, punt…. run, run, interception…. Cj spiller who you continue to refer to has a great number two running back and a quarterback suitable enough to move an offense down field (so a balanced attack)…. The same with marshawn lynch…. So when a defense knows you are running and you still can hit a home run which he did its not like “if you take that away” that is just okay…. there is a vague area that pff can not account for and thats what the defense was doing prior to the play call… did they think it was gonna be a run, did they blist gaps, how many men were in the box…. tally those up and then try to say Charles was not exceptional in what he did last year…. the point of this argument is to try to find out who to start a franchise with and this all pro running back under 27 is not one of the top 101 then you need to question all of your calculation or how you determine this…. this is why you are not a gm because you are essentially saying he wouldn’t be a starter on most NFL teams. This is the problem with analytics is they lose track of the true impact a player has on the game and break plays down by 3.3 yards to 3.7 yards. Ask the players if they feel he is not in the top 101 player and this article would be thrown off the internet …. to stay in the mind frame of numbers “which he led the afc in rushing yards” it doesn’t take in account when a player tackles cj spiller does it hurt him or is it worse to take down a jamaal charles? does Jamaal have the toughness to him where a player knows i am going to hate to tackle this player again so maybe he may not try as hard to get to Jamaal than to attack cj spiller over aggressively and miss him for that reason…. Then instead let Jamaal hit a home run…. which is why he is up there with an adrian peterson because again adrian just like jamaal were one and two in long runs and you have to asked yourself analyzer why are there such big runs from these two running-backs? Don’t just take away the runs for an argument sake because then you are taking away from what a running back is supposed to be doing and in the process leaving him off of the list because of the major stat you left off breaking a big play with no number two spelling you a shuffle offense of line due to injuries and an anemic passing game…. put J.C. on any other team you mentioned seahawks, he crushes the stats marshawn or cj spiller puts up because of his supporting cast…. well see what cj spiller does with that rookie quarterback manuel and kevin kolb instead of having a qb who can manage a game, throw over 3000 yards three years straight with a qb rating over 79…. just like if wilson goes down i hope brady quinn steps in and again well see if marshawn does as well as that YPC 3.7…. that’s why barring an injury to J.C. or Alex smith he is only gonna add to his YPC and continue crushing the record he has been dominating since his second year….

  • K.C. Fire

    This article is the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever read. What about the fact that Charles was the only offensive threat the Chiefs had last year and every defense knew it? What happened? He ran for over 1500 yards, but I see your point anyone could do that.
    Sam you’re an idiot!

  • Chiefs25gotgame!

    Ridiculous reasoning… If you watched the chiefs you would understand that the long runs were because he was too quick to the hole and just way faster then everyone else… Bc he doesn’t make someone miss? Ya well all 11 players missed quite a few times… Charles was a top 50 player this year easily… You suck at evaluations… Go chiefs

  • Jesse

    Shout out to PFF in general here, love the articles, I read them daily. I dig the more meaty and substantial work being done here, it shines a whole new light and perspective on almost everything football related in general. So thank you for your work, I appreciate everything y’all do to make this possible. And as for the rest of the folks waging some phony dissent against this particular post and the folks who made it happen, considering that they’ve probably put in countless hours of work and film study to get their stats and hammer out this list, I’d take their word on Charles here, and try to be objective. Thanks again folks at PFF, I love what ya do, and man, I love ya for it.

  • NewEnglandChief

    This article fails the eye test, smell test and the taste test. What I got from this pile of stuff is that when you take away someones best work then they are just average. Its like saying that if you disregard Obama’s two term run for president, he’s just an ordinary Chicago politician.

  • Guest

    So, it’s “kind of sad” that an author responds to questions and criticisms of an article? Isn’t that just showing respect for your readers? And when he gives a long, logical, thorough explanation, that’s evidence of a weak argument? Where are you people from? I especially like the guy making “bar arguments.” You know, the obnoxious guy that says anyone who doesn’t agree with him is “ridiculous,””a complete joke,” or “complete bs.” Um, go ahead and MAKE an argument, and let other readers decide who is right. It’s especially hilarious to criticize the author for “not realizing” or “overlooking” or “discounting” THINGS HE HAS SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSED IN HIS EXPLANATION. Not sure if you have a reading disability or a logic disability.

    Anyway, feel free to disagree. But insults and unsupported assertions don’t make you right.

  • zaktmundo

    pff+pro football outsiders r by gar thev smartest analyzers of nfl.I admire your moxie in allowing/inviting comments re jamaal charles exclusion,but both of tyour sites rely on too much quantitative analysisC.J. Spiller in top 25 + charles not in top 100 is absurd.your analysis punishes charles 4 having greart instincts on where to take a run i.e. running 2 daylight.My own puny website[in beta last year + not updated since superbowl ] nflalternative.com uses the only empirical quantitative analysis there is in nfl…beating the pointspread.Top 100 lists r fun + drive traffic but r silly like Fox news ‘body language experts’Still I remain a huge fan of your site;keep up the good work+thanks

  • mike

    what I didn’t see was the fact that other than jamaal, we had nothing offensively. the whole league knew this, stacked against the run, and he still had 1500 yards.why isn’t this taken into consideration?

  • Kisersosay

    Well you forgot to factor in the rest of the story. Like the fact that EVERYone knew that JC was the only offense the Chiefs had and put 8 in the box regularly. Or the fact that the Chiefs played with a lead in regulation one time. Yet he still was able to gain the yards even though the defense knew he was getting the ball. You should factor in yards after a big lead for all the RB’s since you don’t seem to have enough measures to get it right yet. By the way Charles yards after a big lead were ZERO last year….

  • Brad

    So much ad hominem. Have any of you insulting posters even considered that this is not some sort of anti-Charles indictment, but is simply showing that he doesn’t grade out using their statistical analysis? The arguments that you guys are making are the same arguments that Al Davis and Jerry Jones used/use on draft day, and the arguments these guys are using established a Patriots dynasty. How many of you picked up Chris Ivory after one play last year? Keep up the good work guys. You folks have the market cornered on advanced NFL metrics, and the fantasy sports fans here want you to keep them coming.

  • FaAmos

    Grading RB’s isn’t as tricky as PFF is making it and there’s different running styles obviously and you can’t say one style is better than the other. AP and Lynch are backs who don’t avoid taking unnecessary hits and are strong runners while Charles is a smarter runner who wants to prolong his career and avoid unnecessary hits and to down grade Charles for playing smart is hypocritical because QB’s who slide before getting the first down are commended for not taking a hit while QB’s who dive are lower the shoulder to get the extra yard are called an idiot and that’s because your afraid they’ll get hurt and to prolong you QB career you must slide before the hit so why should a top five RB get diminsished for doing the same thing as a QB that slides. Both are important to their teams; example take Charles away from KF this season and see how well the offense does without him. Now QB’s are more important but when you have a RB like Charles you want him for as long as possible so downgrading him for outrunning Tacklers is stupid. Just like there’s different QB styles there’s different RB styles and Charles isn’t built as a bruiser instead more of a speedster and as much as I love seeing Lynch run over a Safety in the open field it also puts him at a higher risk for injury than when Charles out runs that same Safety or runs out of bounds when no more yards are to be had but don’t be fooled Charles is strong. Ask his football peers who’ve played against him and they’ll all tell you they were amazed at how strong Charles was and when it comes down to fighting for a first down or TD he’s not afraid to lower his shoulders and run over a defender. Charles should get bonus points for playing smart football that will prolong his career instead of discounted because he runs by defenders avoiding unnecessary hits.

  • Andrew

    The only thing I can think of why Charles wouldn’t be on here is he doesn’t carry the ball as much as the top guys.

  • CrisBenson

    This list is flawed and the reason is football simply has too many variables that cannot all be entered into this equation. The NFL top 100 list is clearly a better scope to who are the best players, even if the list is completely subjective with biased opinion. Statisticians cannot do what a scout, coach, and player dose and that is figure out what really matters. No amount of mathematical calculation can supersede what a scout, coach, or player can do in a moment. Subjective opinions are biased but I would even argue that a biased opinion could be as effective as an analytical breakdown that places top four runningback, that carried his offense, off this list. Clearly the criteria to be on the list is flawed and the NFL’s Top 100 list, as biased as it may be, passes the eye test.

  • Stormbringer

    I have to disagree as well. Jamaal Charles is a top 5 RB easy. He should do even better now that he has a decent QB and won’t face stacked boxes 90% of the time. I like to think I know a little about football and FF since I’m a 7x champion and multiple top 3 finisher playing in the last 13 years. Charles is the real deal, evenmore so in PPR

  • Anthony Akers

    Understandable.

  • ski12568

    Good thing my league doesn’t score extra for any of this:

    “If we look at the Elusive Rating we see another area where Charles doesn’t quite stack up. This rating was an attempt to look at what a runner does with the ball in his hands isolated from the blocking he receives. It looks at yards after contact and how many tackles the runner forced defenders to miss. Charles forced 24 missed tackles last season in total. C.J. Spiller can match that figure with his best three games and forced a massive 66 in total, on fewer touches than Charle”

    Just all yards and TDs