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Playing with the numbers: Goal-line carries

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Playing with the numbers: Goal-line carries

Postby The Lung » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:36 pm

Surprisingly decent analysis from ESPN. From:

Playing with the numbers: Goal-line carries
By Ken Daube
Special to

If you are one of those owners who drafted Maurice Jones-Drew or Thomas Jones with your second-round pick this year, you are no doubt disappointed with your back's production this year. Yet you really don't know what went wrong with them.

Both seemed poised for success. MJD was following up a sparkling rookie season, and Jones no longer had to worry about Cedric Benson stealing his carries. So what happened?

First, might I note that based on their draft positions alone, neither should be regarded as disappointments. In live draft leagues, Jones-Drew was drafted, on average, as the 15th running back, and Jones was selected 18th. Currently, Jones-Drew is the 10th-highest scoring running back, and Jones is 22nd. Jones has at least approached his expectation, and MJD has actually exceeded it. And did you MJD and Jones owners know that you are this close to having one of the steals of the draft? I'll explain.

One of the ways to measure a running back's productivity is by examining his production from inside an opponent's 5-yard line. I touched on this earlier this year, but now that 13 weeks are complete, it's easier to quantify the variations of the backs' productivity levels. The following is a table that represents all running backs with five or more carries that started within an opponent's 5-yard line, their touchdown conversion rates for both 2007 and 2002 through 2006, and the impact of the changes in those touchdown conversion rates in relation to how those players would have ranked fantasy-wise if they had maintained their historical rates:

RBs inside opponent's 5-yard line
From 5 or Closer TD Conversion Rates Impacts
Player Rushes TDs 2007.0 2002-2006 Fantasy Points Pos. Rank
Jamal Lewis 21.0 7.0 0.3 0.4 -12.0 -1.0
Joseph Addai 17.0 5.0 0.3 0.2 6.0 -1.0
Willis McGahee 15.0 3.0 0.2 0.3 -12.0 1.0
Maurice Jones-Drew 15.0 3.0 0.2 0.6 -36.0 4.0
Thomas Jones 14.0 1.0 0.1 0.5 -36.0 10.0
Clinton Portis 13.0 5.0 0.4 0.4 0.0 -1.0
Steven Jackson 12.0 3.0 0.3 0.4 -12.0 1.0
LaDainian Tomlinson 12.0 4.0 0.3 0.5 -12.0 1.0
Brian Westbrook 12.0 4.0 0.3 0.4 -6.0 -1.0
Reggie Bush 12.0 3.0 0.3 0.4 -12.0 1.0
Kevin Jones 11.0 6.0 0.6 0.2 24.0 -12.0
Marion Barber III 10.0 4.0 0.4 0.4 0.0 -1.0
Heath Evans 9.0 3.0 0.3 0.0 18.0 -28.0
Ron Dayne 9.0 2.0 0.2 0.3 -6.0 1.0
Laurence Maroney 9.0 1.0 0.1 0.4 -12.0 3.0
Reuben Droughns 9.0 6.0 0.7 0.4 18.0 -10.0
Shaun Alexander 9.0 2.0 0.2 0.6 -18.0 10.0
Larry Johnson 9.0 2.0 0.2 0.5 -18.0 4.0
Kenny Watson 8.0 3.0 0.4 0.0 18.0 -14.0
Justin Fargas 8.0 2.0 0.3 0.5 -12.0 1.0
LaMont Jordan 8.0 2.0 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0
DeShaun Foster 8.0 2.0 0.3 0.2 6.0 -7.0
Willie Parker 8.0 1.0 0.1 0.5 -18.0 5.0
Jesse Chatman 8.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 -12.0 9.0
Edgerrin James 7.0 3.0 0.4 0.3 6.0 -6.0
Travis Henry 7.0 2.0 0.3 0.4 -6.0 0.0
Frank Gore 7.0 1.0 0.1 0.4 -12.0 2.0
Adrian Peterson (CHI) 7.0 2.0 0.3 0.8 -18.0 0.0
Chester Taylor 7.0 2.0 0.3 0.3 0.0 -3.0
Marcel Shipp 6.0 1.0 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0
Brandon Jacobs 6.0 1.0 0.2 0.5 -12.0 6.0
Rudi Johnson 6.0 2.0 0.3 0.4 -6.0 1.0
Warrick Dunn 6.0 1.0 0.2 0.3 -6.0 7.0
Chris Brown 5.0 1.0 0.2 0.3 -6.0 2.0
Sammy Morris 5.0 2.0 0.4 0.5 -6.0 1.0
Greg Jones 5.0 2.0 0.4 0.4 0.0 1.0
Ronnie Brown 5.0 3.0 0.6 0.4 6.0 -7.0


For all the attention the Browns' passing attack gets, would you believe that Jamal Lewis not only leads the NFL in carries in this portion of the field, but he does so in a dominating way. Remember, he missed one game due to injury, and left another game after just one carry.

Thomas Jones would rank among the top 12 running backs if it wasn't for his regression in this area. If this is an aberration, which I think it is, Jones is going to make one heck of a fourth-round selection next year because the rest of his skill set equates to a second-tier back.

Kevin Jones has been somewhat useful only because of his increased proficiency inside the 5. If he reverts to his historical average, his value will plummet.

Those who think Joseph Addai will eventually join LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson as elite backs should note Addai's performance within this metric. It's eerily similar to Edgerrin James' mediocre production from inside the 5 during his time with the Colts. I'm beginning to think that their level of performance in this region is more as a result of the Colts' play calling than the backs' actual skill levels.

Speaking of James, someone needs to explain to me why Marcel Shipp is brought in for goal-line situations. His productivity in this zone is worse than James', so it's not like the Cardinals are upgrading their goal-line personnel.

Willie Parker has scored on just one of his eight carries in this section of the field. Read that sentence again and you'll figure out why he's not living up to preseason expectations.

I don't care if Brandon Jacobs runs like a truck or not, when the Giants reach this portion of the field, Reuben Droughns should be their No. 1 option. He converts two out of every three carries inside the 5-yard line. That's ridiculous.

Laurence Maroney: 1-for-9. Just adds to the disappointment.

Raise your hand if you thought Travis Henry's production in this area would decrease as he moved from Tennessee to Denver.

Since rookies -- and some other players -- couldn't be included in the above table because they don't have a historical basis for comparison, I've included them below:

RBs inside opponent's 5-yard line
From 5 or Closer TD Conversion rates
Player Rushes TDs 2007
LenDale White 15.0 6.0 0.4
Marshawn Lynch 14.0 2.0 0.1
Earnest Graham 12.0 3.0 0.3
Ryan Grant 11.0 2.0 0.2
Selvin Young 5.0 0.0 0.0
Kenton Keith 5.0 2.0 0.4


LenDale White is resurrecting his career, just as it looked like it might get buried. Remember, the Titans spent an early-round draft selection on Chris Henry in hopes of finding their running back of the future. White's production in this area is off the charts and bodes well for long-term fantasy relevance.

Marshawn Lynch has made a dramatic impact this season, but his owners should be frustrated by below-average production in this area. As Trent Edwards becomes a reliable starter, this could change, but don't spend an early-round selection on Lynch next year until you see more production in this area.

Earnest Graham has come out of nowhere to be a fantasy surprise. He's producing in all areas of the field, including this metric. Look for his fantasy impact to remain constant the rest of the season.

Ryan Grant was 1 for his first 10 in this area before scoring from inside the 5 last Thursday. He has been impressive, but his production here must improve for the Packers to make some noise in the playoffs.

Selvin Young: 0-for-5. Really?

Some good stuff here. I wouldn't use a 4th rounder on Thomas Jones next year, but maybe a 5th rounder as a RB3 in yardage leagues. You've also got to love LenDale White's conversion rate.


The Lung

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Re: Playing with the numbers: Goal-line carries

Postby Atog » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:53 pm

$#!#^&*^@!&^ Maroney and Willie Parker :-C
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Re: Playing with the numbers: Goal-line carries

Postby latsprewell20002000 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:22 pm

Yeah nice thread. Just another reason to remind myself NOT to keep FWP another year. I mean how can they not get this dude in the endzone??? Good thing i have Westbrook and Romo to keep for a few more years i hope...
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Re: Playing with the numbers: Goal-line carries

Postby JasonSeahorn » Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:07 am

jamal lewis for rb1 status!

Thanks to deluxe_247 for sig, he is welcome to sail with the Captain too!

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