Goal Line Savvy and Not-So-Savvy Running Backs

I was wondering about effectiveness of running backs near the goal line so I took a look-see at, well, effectiveness of running backs near the goal line. Seems to make sense. I think.

Here is a list of running back carries over the last three years inside the five yard line, the number of touchdowns they scored on said carries and then the number of attempts it took that player for each touchdown. So take a look and then I’ll take a look and show you what I looked at.

NAME Att TD TD%
Michael Turner 64 25 0.39
Adrian Peterson 59 29 0.49
Rashard Mendenhall 51 23 0.45
Maurice Jones-Drew 48 14 0.29
Arian Foster 41 19 0.46
Marion Barber 39 13 0.33
Cedric Benson 39 12 0.31
Chris Johnson 37 13 0.35
Mike Tolbert 36 15 0.42
Michael Bush 36 15 0.42
Frank Gore 36 12 0.33
Brandon Jacobs 36 12 0.33
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 35 18 0.51
Ray Rice 35 12 0.34
Matt Forte 33 3 0.09
LeSean McCoy 32 13 0.41
Marshawn Lynch 30 13 0.43
Jonathan Stewart 30 8 0.27
Peyton Hillis 28 9 0.32
Steven Jackson 28 8 0.29
Willis McGahee 27 11 0.41
Knowshon Moreno 26 10 0.38
Chris Wells 25 13 0.52
Ahmad Bradshaw 24 15 0.63
Ronnie Brown 24 10 0.42
Joseph Addai 22 8 0.36
Tashard Choice 21 5 0.24
John Kuhn 20 8 0.40
Tim Hightower 18 10 0.56
Fred Jackson 18 8 0.44
Pierre Thomas 18 6 0.33
Jason Snelling 17 4 0.24
Ryan Grant 15 8 0.53
Justin Forsett 15 4 0.27
Donald Brown 15 4 0.27
Kevin Smith 13 7 0.54
Shonn Greene 13 4 0.31
DeAngelo Williams 13 3 0.23
Jamaal Charles 12 7 0.58
Darren Sproles 12 2 0.17
LeGarrette Blount 11 4 0.36
Felix Jones 11 2 0.18
Maurice Morris 10 6 0.60
Derrick Ward 10 4 0.40
Ryan Mathews 10 4 0.40
Darren McFadden 9 7 0.78
Reggie Bush 9 5 0.56
Jackie Battle 9 3 0.33
Isaac Redman 9 1 0.11
Javarris James 8 5 0.63
Jahvid Best 8 3 0.38
Anthony Dixon 8 3 0.38
Ryan Torain 8 2 0.25
Chris Ivory 7 3 0.43
Ben Tate 7 2 0.29
Daniel Thomas 7 0 0.00
Steve Slaton 6 3 0.50
LeRon McClain 6 3 0.50
Roy Helu 6 1 0.17
Bernard Scott 5 2 0.40
Jacquizz Rodgers 5 1 0.20
DeMarco Murray 5 1 0.20
Stevan Ridley 5 0 0.00
Toby Gerhart 4 2 0.50
Danny Woodhead 4 2 0.50
C.J. Spiller 4 1 0.25
Delone Carter 3 2 0.67
Lex Hilliard 3 2 0.67
Rashad Jennings 3 2 0.67
Mark Ingram 3 1 0.33
Mike Goodson 3 0 0.00
Montario Hardesty 3 0 0.00
Marcel Reece 2 1 0.50
Shane Vereen 2 1 0.50
LaRod Stephens-Howling 1 0 0.00
Mewelde Moore 1 0 0.00
James Starks 1 0 0.00
Matt Forte: He’s by far the worst goal line back in all of football. Yes, others have scored big fat zeroes (hide your head in shame Daniel Thomas, Stevan Ridley, Mike Goodson and Montario Hardesty) but those dudes didn’t have nearly the carries of Forte. Three for 33 is, well, not good. That’s a whopping 9% chance of scoring a touchdown from inside the five yard line.

So in steps Michael Bush. He is a much better 15 for 36 inside the five and there is little doubt that he’ll be the goal line back. But the good news is that Matt Forte was the sixth ranked fantasy running back before he was injured and he had a total of ZERO touchdowns from inside the five. So, if Michael Bush takes all the goal line carries from him, well, he’s taking away nothing. He actually rushed for negative two yards from inside the five, so, maybe he’ll help him out some.

Darren McFadden: You know that goal line vulture Michael Bush? Yeah, he’s gone and our man Run DMC has had no trouble walking this way to the end zone. His seven for nine touchdowns inside the 5 is pretty damn good. With Bush gone, McFadden will have a prime opportunity to rack up good touchdown numbers.

Oh, and if you think Cedric Benson might come in and hurt his numbers, well, his 14 attempts inside the five last season resulted in three touchdowns. And I think his yards per carry was around negative two.

Tim Hightower: Hightower has little value as a running back, but he has had good luck near the goal line scoring 10 touchdowns in 18 tries. I only highlight this because of Roy Helu’s one touchdown in six tries. Of course that is not a very big sample size, but it does give some pause for Helu enthusiasts like myself.

Daniel Thomas: Mr. Thomas was not good near the goal line. Zero for seven is very much not good. And on the other hand, Reggie Bush scored three touchdowns in six tries while with the Dolphins. Will Thomas, who is built better for between the tackles running, turn things around this year? He has a chance, but I’m not going to bet my life on it.

Michael Turner: He has the most attempts inside the five yard line over the last three seasons. That’s pretty impressive, but what’s more impressive is that he only had 10 in 2009. So over the last 2 seasons he has a whopping 54. The guy has to be wearing down some, but if he can get even half the looks inside the five that he has been, he’s still in line for a decent fantasy season.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The Law Firm has had a good deal of success around the goal line in his career, getting into the end zone 50% of the time he runs inside the five. I’ve ripped him a few new ones whenever I’ve had the chance, but he does know how to sneak over the line. Can he do this in Cincinnati instead of New England? Good question. I don’t think he will be as successful, but if the Bengals offense can get him down near the goal, he could have some production.

Beanie Wells: Last season Wells put on a nice goal line show with eight touchdowns in 13 attempts. He played through pain unlike in previous seasons and is now the “veteran” running back. Coach Whiz likes himself some veterans and if Wells can stay on the field, he’ll get the main chunk of the playing time and most likely all goal line carries over the “rookie” Ryan Williams.