Punch Drunk Wonderland

Fantasy Analysis: 2013 RBs vs. WRs (Points-Per-Opportunity)

Jamaal CharlesIn 2013 we saw running back numbers get off to a very very slow start. Through the first four weeks wide receivers were dominating the fantasy stat sheets, and the typically common running back front runners were lagging behind. Now with an entire season in the books we can see that the running backs finished out just fine in comparison, and they actually were right on par with previous seasons in most respects. Surprisingly, so were the wide receivers.

The biggest trend that 2013 showed us is that running backs who are strong receivers out of the backfield are invaluable and can play huge roles in the modern pass happy NFL. This season we saw 5 running backs with 60+ receptions. As a comparison, that’s more RBs with 60+ receptions in 2013 than 2012 and 2011 combined.

A decent metric to use when comparing the productivity of the two positions is Points-Per-Opportunity (PPO). PPO is a metric that the great folks over at Pro Football Focus put together that is calculated by taking a player’s total fantasy points scored, and dividing it by his carries plus his pass routes run.

Total Fantasy Points  /  (Carries + Pass Routes Run) = PPO

Obviously, PPO favors those players with the most statistical opportunities. For this reason players like Jamaal Charles who are very involved in both the run and pass game are very big scorers in terms of PPO. For receivers, those who receive a great deal of opportunities in the form of targets and receptions are going to be key PPO contributors. The range of PPO distribution for the Top 25 running backs of 2013 was from 0.47 in standard formats (0.58 in PPR) to 0.28 (0.37 in PPR) and for wide receivers it was from 0.40 in standard formats (0.56 in PPR) to 0.25 (0.37 in PPR). These numbers are actually very similar to previous years with only a slight dip in the low end for RBs. The average PPO for the Top 25 running backs was 0.36 in standard formats (0.45 in PPR) and for wide receivers it was 0.30 in standard formats (0.45 in PPR).

What we can see from this is that while running back production has dipped in some respects, they still remain fantasy viable as top producers. The trick is finding which RBs are worthwhile amid a league full of committees. As mentioned above, it’s a passing league and fantasy success favors those with the opportunities. Finding RBs that can be involved in the passing game will be key going forward. In terms of receivers, there are opportunities aplenty. The trick in finding the cream of the crop will be separating those players with the most opportunities in the form of targets and successful receptions. Again, obvious stuff…..PPO can only favor those with the opportunities.

Player (RB) Pts (Std) PPO (Std) Pts (PPR) PPO (PPR) PPO (PPR) Pts (PPR) PPO (Std) Pts (Std) Player (WR)
Jamaal Charles 309.30 0.47 379.30 0.58 0.56 304.40 0.40 220.40 Calvin Johnson
Ryan Mathews 184.80 0.44 210.80 0.51 0.51 314.40 0.37 227.40 Josh Gordon
Marshawn Lynch 239.80 0.42 275.80 0.49 0.53 246.00 0.35 161.00 Anquan Boldin
Knowshon Moreno 236.10 0.40 296.10 0.51 0.49 268.90 0.34 186.90 DeSean Jackson
DeAngelo Williams 140.10 0.39 166.10 0.46 0.48 318.50 0.34 226.50 Demaryius Thomas
DeMarco Murray 205.90 0.39 258.90 0.49 0.49 306.10 0.33 208.10 A.J. Green
LeSean McCoy 280.20 0.39 332.20 0.47 0.50 301.50 0.33 201.50 Brandon Marshall
Fred Jackson 186.20 0.39 233.20 0.48 0.48 294.50 0.33 201.50 Dez Bryant
Eddie Lacy 208.50 0.39 243.50 0.46 0.49 302.70 0.31 192.70 Antonio Brown
Adrian L. Peterson 207.20 0.38 236.20 0.43 0.45 282.10 0.31 193.10 Alshon Jeffery
Alfred Morris 174.80 0.38 183.80 0.40 0.44 223.80 0.30 152.80 Keenan Allen
Rashad Jennings 138.50 0.37 174.50 0.47 0.44 280.80 0.30 193.80 Eric Decker
Danny Woodhead 150.80 0.37 226.80 0.55 0.44 241.90 0.30 163.90 Vincent Jackson
Giovani Bernard 168.90 0.36 224.90 0.48 0.44 210.80 0.29 137.80 Wes Welker
Joique Bell 166.00 0.36 219.00 0.48 0.46 279.70 0.28 170.70 Andre Johnson
Matt Forte 263.80 0.36 337.80 0.47 0.41 264.40 0.28 179.40 Jordy Nelson
Reggie Bush 190.70 0.36 244.70 0.46 0.39 166.20 0.28 120.20 Jerricho Cotchery
Zac Stacy 159.20 0.34 185.20 0.40 0.45 279.00 0.27 166.00 Pierre Garcon
Frank Gore 179.40 0.34 195.40 0.37 0.39 145.50 0.27 99.50 Denarius Moore
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 118.80 0.32 122.80 0.33 0.41 186.40 0.27 122.40 Golden Tate
Mike Tolbert 96.50 0.31 123.50 0.39 0.41 220.90 0.26 138.90 T.Y. Hilton
Chris D. Johnson 201.00 0.30 243.00 0.37 0.36 159.60 0.26 112.60 Eddie Royal
Pierre Thomas 135.70 0.30 212.70 0.47 0.39 237.70 0.26 155.70 Larry Fitzgerald
Le’Veon Bell 174.00 0.30 219.00 0.38 0.39 196.30 0.25 123.30 Victor Cruz
Maurice Jones-Drew 141.20 0.28 184.20 0.37 0.37 158.40 0.25 108.40 Doug Baldwin

 


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...

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