Tip #1: Monitor the workload
The 300-carry threshold is always a warning sign for me. Basically, if someone hits 300 carries in a season, the next season you are likely to see a drop-off in production.
Let’s start by saying this – two running backs had 300 carries in the 2013 regular season: LeSean McCoy (314) and Marshawn Lynch (301).
Since 2008, players that accumulated 300 carries in a regular season had fewer carries the following season 92 percent of the time. 76 percent of those players had fewer rushing touchdowns the following year. On average, those players had four FEWER 20+ yard attempts for the season.
Does that mean you should completely avoid taking Shady McCoy and Beast Mode? No. But I wouldn’t take them unless they fell to me beyond the first few picks…
Let’s dive a little further into the subject and look at total touches — because a running back that catches passes is getting hit, right?
In 2012, seven running backs had more that 325 total touches — including postseason games: Arian Foster (460), Adrian Peterson (411), Ray Rice (410), Marshawn Lynch (378), Doug Martin (368), Alfred Morris (362) and Frank Gore (361).
Collectively, those seven players had 847 fewer touches in 2013, 44 fewer touchdowns and 5,474 fewer yards. That’s 121 touches per man, 782 yards and 6.3 scores.
Six players had fewer touches, fewer yards and a lower yards per touch average. The only player who scored more was Lynch (18 touchdowns in ’13, 14 in 2012).
Want to know who had more than 325 total touches in 2013?
Marshawn Lynch (403), LeSean McCoy (391), Matt Forte (363), Knowhson Moreno (349), Frank Gore (343), Eddie Lacy (342) and Jamaal Charles (332).
Buyer beware in 2014? Yeah, I think so.