At What Age Should You Fade A Running Back in Fantasy?

 

The previous intro worked so well for the wide receiver age analysis article we decided to use it again. 

Whether it is dynasty or redraft understanding when the cliff typically comes for a fantasy asset is key to staying ahead of the game. What we did was review the last 10 seasons of running back production by age to see when the drop off comes for the position. A couple key nuggets that you need to know before we get started.

  1. The years sampled were 2011-2020 for the running back position only
  2. The analysis benchmark we will be discussing today is 100 touches. Every running back ages 21-37 had to have at least 100 touches to qualify
  3. The points and points per game (PPG) are in half point (.5) points per reception (PPR)
  4. When conducting the analysis, it was important to have a baseline for touches as many players who don’t make it typically only play 3-4 years in their early 20s. That means if you don’t have a touch baseline in the analysis then you’re including a lot of young running backs who don’t pan out. This would prevent us from getting a better idea of how age becomes a factor since we want to identify the running backs who were able to sustain some level of relevance throughout the years

Like we always promise we will give you the high-level data first and you can take it for what it is worth. The first chart will include the running backs (RB) age, the average total fantasy points those running backs had at that age and the average points per game (PPG) those running backs had at that age.  If you want a deeper dive, we have included more information later.

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Enter Best Ball Drafts. A format growing closer to my heart by the year. No lineups to set. No waivers to run. You draft your team and the best possible lineup of your starters is automatically entered each week. A true paradise for those who love the draft room experience and are looking for buy-in. I have also found the auto-drafters, early exiting participants, and obscure first round picks aren’t as prevalent. Since making the switch, the largest difference I have seen is the percentage of my teams making the playoffs. More teams in the playoffs equates to more championships. A winner is you!

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B_Don takes a look at Donkey Teeth’s QB rankings as DT tries to narrow down his rankings and tiers. DT doesn’t have Mahomes #1, well, that’s just crazy  talk, but he’ll try and make sense of it. DT’s love affair with speed has him taking Jalen Hurts at a position that may be uncomfortable (like the backseat of a VW?). Maybe B_Don can talk him down on the young Philly QB.

Why do the guys hate Dak Prescott? Where is it worth taking Aaron Rodgers if you’re forced to draft soon? Why is Baker Mayfield a starter? If you turned into a delicious pastry, would you eat yourself? These are the important questions that will help you find the right signal caller for your team. 

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It’s been an eventful offseason for the quarterback position. I know, I know, it’s too soon to joke about Masseuse Gate. But as I read over one massage therapist’s account of an interaction with Deshaun Watson back in 2019, my immaturity got the best of me as visuals entered my mind. I’ll just leave this here:

“Watson developed an erection, she says, and also began clenching and slowly ‘thrusting the air.'”

Regardless of  maturity level, it’s difficult to read that Sports Illustrated article and not find it both very credible and extremely concerning for the future of Watson’s NFL career. I don’t see many paths to him playing football in 2021. And then we have the whole, slightly less mind boggling, Aaron Rodgers saga. Will the Packers hall of famer hang up the cleats to pursue a career as Jeopardy host? If I have to take a hard stance today, I’m saying neither of these elite fantasy QB options touch the field this season. And thus, you will not find either among my top 10 quarterbacks for 2021 fantasy football:

*Note: These rankings are geared toward standard QB scoring with 4 points per passing touchdown. Projections provided in this season’s rankings are not my own, they come from Rudy Gamble’s World Renowned 2021 Fantasy Football Projections.

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When Is It Time To Officially Fade A Wide Receiver In Fantasy?

Whether it is dynasty or redraft understanding when the cliff typically comes for a fantasy asset is key to staying ahead of the game. What we did was review the last 10 seasons of wide receiver production by age to see when the drop off comes for wide receivers. A couple key nuggets that you need to know before we get started.

  1. The years sampled were 2011-2020 for the wide receiver position only.
  2. The analysis benchmark we will be discussing today is 100 targets. Every wide receiver ages 21-37 had to have at least 100 targets to qualify
  3. When conducting the analysis it was important to have a baseline for targets as many wide receivers who don’t make it typically only play 3-4 years in their early 20s. That means if you don’t have a target baseline in the analysis then you’re including a lot of young wide receivers who don’t pan out. This would prevent us from getting a better idea of how age becomes a factor since we want to identify the wide receivers who were able to sustain some level of relevance throughout the years

Like we always promise we will give you the high-level data first and you can take it for what it is worth. The first chart will include the wide receivers (WR) age, the average total fantasy points those wide receivers had at that age and the average points per game those wide receivers (PPG) had at that age.  If you want a deeper dive, we have included more information later in the article.

Reviewing Points and Points Per Game (PPG)

WR Age Points PPG
21 177.7 11.3
22 182.9 12
23 183.5 12
24 174.5 11.3
25 191.3 12.2
26 205.5 13.3
27 185.3 12
28 191 12.6
29 194.1 12.6
30 177.6 11.5
31 182.5 11.6
32 171.4 11.6
33 179.4 11.5
34 183.2 11.6
35 154.4 10.1
36 131.9 8.5
37 144.9 10.4

 

As you can see for the wide receiver position there is no major drop off. What we end up seeing is a lot of stability over the years. Wide receivers age 25-29 peak at age 26 but they remain stable up until their age 30 campaign. Meanwhile once they hit 30 instead of a steep decline, we find a slight drop in fantasy production, but it quickly stabilizes similarly to wide receivers in their late 20s. When you breakdown the production 25-29 vs. 30-34 wide receivers age 30-34 still produce at just over 92% in points and PPG vs. their late 20 counterparts.

Overall, only a few wide receivers make it to age 35 let alone reach 100 targets at that age. However, when they do, we can still see some level of production as they produce at roughly 75% vs. age 25-29.

Finally, the drop off isn’t as steep as we might have thought. This slight dip in production followed by a stability period does show that wide receivers in their early 30s who are still producing at a high level probably have a few more years left in the tank. 

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What’s the easiest thing you can do to increase the odds of success for your fantasy football roster, no matter the type of roster you draft? Grab yourself a fine tight end. No, not that kind of grabbing; I don’t want you in jail. In most formats, fine tight ends are about as scarce as a workhorse receiving running back. Meet me after the jump and we’ll talk about some tight end options that you can target in your early drafts.

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What is it that makes drafting rookies so much fun? I’m told humans don’t like change. Yet each season a new crop of players enter the NFL and us fantasy footballers are mesmerized by their shine. Captivated by the the unknown. Resistance to the changing of the fantasy football guard is feeble to non-existent. Maybe it’s the lottery factor at play. Humans resist big life changes, but not when those changes are the result of winning the lottery. And what’s a rookie if not a lottery ticket. I remember scratching off my Sony Michel ticket expecting to reveal Jamaal Charles. And that Laquon Treadwell quick-pick I hoped would result in a Randy Moss-like windfall. But now the savings are all gone and I’m eating two meals a day from dumpsters just to be able to afford my next rookie fix. Ahhh yes, just one more hit of the shiny stuff. Rondale Moore is sure to fill the cavernous spiritual void in my soul. Anyway, here’s my top 10 rookies for 2021 PPR dynasty leagues:

*Note: these rankings are geared towards half PPR, 1QB dynasty leagues

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We are now in the thick of summer when baseball is just treading water until the NFL preseason starts. Have no fear! I have my top 10 running backs post-draft.  

Without getting too technical, my process heavily weighs volume for running backs. It has been shown that usage in college projects usage in the pros, with the occasional exception. Other college production metrics come into play such as efficiency AND volume is better than volume alone and of course draft capital equals opportunity which must be considered. Finally, yes, I do turn on the tape and see what traits jump out and how they convert their skills into the production the stats show.

This list reflects who I would prefer in a vacuum on talent alone. Landing spot is a bigger consideration for me at the running back position than it is for quarterbacks or receivers. So, there will be a higher likelihood of shuffling post draft on this list compared to other positions. Still, I think we should pick players mostly on talent first and the other factors are more like tie-breakers rather than a major consideration. See my pre-draft article for additional insight. 

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I’ve been watching this QAnon docuseries on HBO this week, Q: Into the Storm. I’ll confess, I haven’t been plugged into the Qverse until now. But it turns out there’s a bunch of politicians and movie stars who murder babies and drink their blood. Allegedly. I mean, it kind of makes sense. I won’t get any further into the political weeds here, but if you showed me footage of Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell eating babies together it wouldn’t be the most shocking video I’ve seen this year. Those cats playing the piano blew my mind. Where am I going with all this? Not quite sure. Something convoluted about Pat Fitzmaurice and Rich Hribar scooping up babies like evil Illuminati brethren in our recent superflex dynasty best ball draft. Take a look at how many rookies each of our esteemed analysts selected in the draft:

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What is up everybody!? How are you people doing in the back? Good? There’s no back to the internet? OK! Now, huddle up: you’re going into fantasy football mode and there’s a secret you need to know that will win you the most leagues with the least effort and I’m going to tell you all about it. Right after this word from our sponsor! Donkey Teeth, take it away! 

[camera cuts to DT eating ice cream out of the container with his hands] 

Aw crap, we really suck at this advertising thing. Maybe that’s why we here at Razzball just give you the facts without the gimmick. We’re here to be in a community with you, help you win your leagues, and have a bunch of fun while we do it. So, meet me after the jump and we’ll talk about the best way you can set up your teams for fantasy victory. And if you want the TL;DR, here it is: just draft and have fun. 

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