RB Value According to the Intersection of Opportunity and ADP

Over the last couple of days, I’ve done a fair amount of research relating to running back points per opportunity.  In a previous post, we used the metric as a way to identify running backs that are likely to experience negative regression in the coming season.  For our purposes, opportunity refers to the total of rushing attempts and passing targets that a back accrues over the course of a season.  As we all know, opportunity is everything for fantasy running backs.  Check out just how strong the relationship has been between opportunity and point totals, over the last three seasons, for the top 50 fantasy RBs.

Fantasy Points by Opportunity

No surprise there, but keeping this relationship in mind we can assign an expected workload to running backs based on averages and ranks.  For example, between 2013 and 2015, the PPR RB10 saw an average opportunity of 271.  As of June 8th, Mark Ingram is the 10th running back drafted.  As such, the market is assuming that Ingram will merit approximately 271 total opportunities to earn fantasy points in 2016.

In the below table, I have included the average opportunity for each RB rank and the player currently belonging to the corresponding ADP.  Additionally, I have included the 2015 opportunity that each player earned, normalized for a 16 game season.  Let’s review the list and then identify players with projected opportunity vastly different from what is currently being assumed by drafters.

Rank Player Based on ADP Team AVG OPP Normalized ’15
1 Le’Veon Bell PIT 373 371
2 Todd Gurley LA 401 314
3 Adrian Peterson MIN 326 363
4 David Johnson ARI 325 182
5 Devonta Freeman ATL 305 385
6 Jamaal Charles KC 277 323
7 Lamar Miller HOU 290 251
8 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 269 Rookie
9 Eddie Lacy GB 275 229
10 Mark Ingram NO 271 301
11 Thomas Rawls SEA 266 194
12 Doug Martin TB 277 332
13 Matt Forte NYJ 270 340
14 LeSean McCoy BUF 285 337
15 Jeremy Langford CHI 248 190
16 Dion Lewis NE 228 226
17 CJ Anderson DEN 262 188
18 Carlos Hyde SF 224 297
19 DeMarco Murray TEN 271 265
20 Latavius Murray OAK 234 319
21 Matt Jones WAS 254 208
22 Jonathan Stewart CAR 220 324
23 Danny Woodhead SD 204 204
24 Jeremy Hill CIN 204 242
25 Jay Ajayi MIA 179 107
26 Ryan Mathews PHI 195 166
27 Giovani Bernard CIN 241 220
28 Duke Johnson CLE 173 178
29 Melvin Gordon SD 201 253
30 Justin Forsett BAL 211 307
31 Ameer Abdullah DET 172 181
32 Chris Ivory JAC 191 284
33 Frank Gore IND 155 318
34 TJ Yeldon JAC 176 304
35 Karlos Williams BUF 173 156
36 Theo Riddick DET 180 142
37 Arian Foster HOU 179 364
38 Charles Sims TB 133 177
39 Rashad Jennings NYG 165 235
40 DeAngelo Williams PIT 163 247
41 Tevin Coleman ATL 141 131
42 Isaiah Crowell CLE 118 207
43 Darren McFadden DAL 140 292
44 Javorius Allen BAL 158 199
45 Charcandrick West KC 169 207
46 Bilal Powell NYJ 177 193
47 Darren Sproles PHI 104 166
48 LeGarrette Blount NE 188 229
49 Alfred Morris DAL 150 215
50 Jerick McKinnon MIN 116 81

I recognize that as we make our way down the list, drafters are not necessarily selecting players based on expected workloads, but rather, potential workloads.  Nonetheless, I still believe this to be a useful exercise for identifying over or under valued rushers.  Here are some of the names that stood out to me:

Doug Martin

In 2015, Martin accounted for 72% of Tampa Bay’s 401 rushing attempts.  Even if Charles Sims were to see an increase in rushing workload, bringing down Martin’s share to 65%, Martin could still see over 260 carries.  He was targeted 44 times in the passing game last season, so he could definitely outpace the opportunity tied to where he is being drafted.  Assuming his passing targets remain stagnant, Martin could lose a full 14% of his 2015 rushing opportunity and still finish at levels commensurate to where he is being drafted.

Carlos Hyde

Chip Kelly’s Eagles ran the ball 411 times in 2015 and 418 times in 2014.  During the 2014 campaign, Lesean McCoy alone recorded 315 rushing attempts.  Let’s make things easy and assume that Kelly uses the rush in a similar capacity in San Francisco, calling 400 rushing plays in 2016.  Carlos Hyde would only need to control 56% of these carries in order to justify his ADP and that’s without even factoring in passing targets.  Hyde is clearly the RB1 in the Niners’ backfield and it’s more than fair to assume that he could see well over 60% of the team’s carries.  Add in a little cushion for a conservative 30 or so targets and it’s clear that he’s being undervalued at an ADP of RB18.

Latavius Murray, Jonathan Stewart and Frank Gore

All three of these backs are being drafted as if something happened to their situation that will radically change their opportunity or output in the coming season.  Yet, as far as I can tell, not much has changed.  Latavius Murray’s talent has been questioned by some, but who cares that has no impact on his fantasy prospects.  The Raiders’ front office doesn’t seem overly concerned either.  Stewart and Gore are a year older, but both are the lead back for their respective teams and will see workloads well beyond the levels that their ADP’s would lead you to believe.

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