Punch Drunk Wonderland

It’s Ameer Abdullah Time in Your Fantasy Football League

Detroit Lions rookie running back Ameer Abdullah received some hyperbole fueled hype during the preseason when Jets coach Todd Bowles compared the back to Barry Sanders. Ok, pump the brakes. I’m excited about the rookie, but let’s give him a chance before we over hype him.

There’s plenty to be excited about. In Week 1 he saw the majority of touches and put together some solid production for his first NFL regular season game. 7 carries for 50 yards, 4 receptions for 44 yards, and a rushing touchdown is not too shabby. Especially on a day when the Lions offense only ran 47 plays. But, let’s dig deeper. Our friends at numberFire have taken a look at why now is the time to get excited about Abdullah.

Shedding the Label

It’s okay if you’re hesitant to get “Fear Ameer” tattooed on your bicep. You’re not alone. Others have been slow to warm to Abdullah, as well.

Abdullah grew up in Alabama, smack dab in the middle of football crazy SEC country. Rivals rated him as a three-star recruit out of high school, and a lot of the SEC big boys came calling. Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas all wanted Abdullah — to play defensive back.

You see, at 5’9″, 177 pounds, Abdullah couldn’t survive at running back in the meatgrinder that is the SEC. At least that was the assumption.

So, Abdullah turned down his self-proclaimed dream school, Auburn, to play his dream position, running back, at Nebraska.

All he did in Lincoln was break the Cornhuskers’ career record for all-purpose yards with 5,762. His size didn’t prevent him from being a workhorse back as he racked up 226, 281 and 264 carries in his final three collegiate seasons.

Abdullah didn’t just log a bunch of carries: he went buck wild with them.

From 2012 to 2014, his three seasons as Nebraska’s bell cow, Abdullah had more 100-yard games (23) than any running back in college football. He also had the third-most 100-yard games with a touchdown (17). For his career, Abdullah carried the rock 813 times for 4,588 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 39 touchdowns, including back-to-back 1,600-yard campaigns in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 alone, he erupted for four 200-yard games and scored 22 total touchdowns.

He also showed the ability to be a quality receiver out of the backfield, catching 73 balls for 690 yards and 7 scores in his career.

In short, the dude did it all at Nebraska.

Aside from dominating on the field, Abdullah changed his body. In four years, he went from a slender 177-pound high school recruit to a 205-pound ball of force and muscle. That transition allowed him to put on a show at the NFL scouting combine.

Lighting a SPARQ

In today’s day and age, it’s hard to have an impressive combine with a mediocre showing in the 40-yard dash, the combine’s headline event, but that’s exactly what Abdullah did. Despite running a 4.6-second time in the 40, Abdullah shredded the agility and burst drills, showing he has elite explosion and change-of-direction ability.

In the broad jump, vertical jump and 20-yard shuttle, Abdullah tested in at least the 97th percentile in each event. That’s the percentile ranking among all running backs tested at the combine over the years, not just 2015, so that’s mighty impressive.

Playerprofiler.com — a really neat site, by the way — can further quantify those measurements with their agility score and burst score metrics, which line up well with the traits a running back must possess to be successful. The agility score takes into account a player’s times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard short shuttle to measure a players short area quickness and balance. The burst score equally weighs a player’s vertical jump and broad jump distances to measure zero-inertia explosiveness. Abdullah’s agility score and burst score are each in at least the 97th percentile, with his burst score totaling 137.3. According to the site, any score over 130 is considered “extraordinary” for a running back.

Okay, just one more metric.

Abdullah’s SPARQ rating is through the roof, too, checking in at 138.7, which — again — puts him in the 98th percentile. SPARQ is a Nike-invented metric that’s an acronym for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness — all kind of important for running backs. It’s a standardized test meant to measure all-around athleticism.

Abdullah’s test scores tell us — loud and clear — he’s explosive, but as staggering as those combine numbers are, it’s more meaningful (and fun) to see that athleticism in action.

Let’s go back to the glorious run against the Jets this preseason. Sure, what he does in the backfield to that linebacker — who we won’t name out of respect for his family — is nasty, but look at the way he erupts upfield after making that move. That’s what playing running back in the NFL is all about — finding a crease and hitting it.

In that same game, Abdullah again shows off his elusiveness by dancing around another would-be tackler (second run in that clip), this time a safety filling the box, to turn a short gain into a seven-yard pickup.

In his first regular season carry, he undressed the Chargers on a 24-yard touchdown. Abdullah took a handoff going right, hit a cutback lane to his left and then beat Weddle with a supernatural move, leaving the five-time All-Pro defensive back grabbing at air. Weddle was beaten so badly in a 1-on-1 situation, not only did he not get a hand on Abdullah, he almost didn’t even dive. It was like Weddle had the turf pulled out from underneath him.

Again, it was Abdullah’s first NFL carry.

Efficiency

In his first NFL game, Abdullah carried the ball 7 times for 50 yards and a touchdown. He also hauled in 4 passes (on 4 targets) for 44 yards as a receiver out of the backfield. In the preseason, he totaled 12 carries for 82 yards, adding one reception for 21 yards. In all, Abdullah has 19 carries for 132 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown to go with 5 catches for 65 yards. That’s 197 yards on 24 touches — or 8.2 yards per touch.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)

 

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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