Fantasy Running Back Consistency April 29, 2012  |  Chet

Here are the fantasy stats for the top 10 running backs from 2002 through 2011. I wanted to just get a small look at the consistency of backs from year to year when it comes to fantasy finishes. In most leagues you will start 2-3 running backs and the chances of winning your league without a top 10 running back are slim. Below, you’ll see the way a running back finishes one year doesn’t always correlate with how they finished the year before. You’ll also notice that on average 4.1 running backs repeated a top 10 finish and lately his name was Adrian Peterson.

Of course there are many variables here that I can’t quantify, but injuries are probably the most common reason for a back not repeating. Running backs are hit more than any other fantasy player and they are also worth more than any other fantasy player. On average the top backs put up more points than wide receivers and are more volatile from year to year due to injuries. Of course quarterbacks put up the most points, but your chance of drafting a top quarterback when your competitors and yourself are filling one QB slot on the starting roster are actually pretty good. Your chances of drafting multiple top 10 RBs for those 2-3 slots aren’t nearly as good.

So looking at these somewhat discouraging numbers below doesn’t tell me that RBs are too risky to use a top pick on, it tells me you better pick a top 10 RB no matter what it takes. Are Ray Rice and Arian Foster‘s chances of repeating top 5 numbers slim? Not really. You can see that guys do repeat. Good players in positions for full workloads have to be taken early. And players that have the potential for full workloads also have to be taken early. Will you kick yourself if Ryan Mathews or Darren McFadden‘s ACL/MCLs are annihilated on the first play of the season? Yes, but you still drafted Mathew Stafford in the second round and stocked up on sleeper/back up running backs later in the draft because you knew one of you big guns was going to misfire.

So take the inconsistency of running backs as a sign to take as many as you can because of their inconsistency and do your due diligence in taking safe QBs and WRs at the right moment.

The yellow shaded players are those that repeated a top 10 finish from the year before:

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