Overview

In this article, we are going to breakdown Points Per Rush Attempt or PPRA in fantasy football. First, what is PPRA? PPRA is a metric that shows us how many fantasy points a running back gets per rush attempt. For example, if a running back carries the ball 100 times and generates 60 fantasy points from those rush attempts then his PPRA would be .60. (A running back can generate one fantasy point for every 10 rushing yards and six points for every rushing touchdown).

PPRA Analysis

A question a lot of us might be wondering is, “what is the average PPRA for a running back?”. The answer is roughly .58 fantasy points per rush attempt. Now that number might be more notable for rookie running backs as we try to figure out if they could see an increase or decrease in PPRA next season. Don’t worry, we will break that down in a later article. For this analysis we are more focused on the individual players and how they performed vs. their own career PPRA. To do that we had to review the analysis to see if a player had an outlier year in PPRA, did they bounce back to their career norms? A couple things we want you to know before we go any further.

  1. For a player to improve by one fantasy point per game they needed to average 12.5 carriers per game and increase their PPRA by .08. For example, if a running back had closer to 230 carries or 14.4 carries per game then they would only need to increase their PPRA by .07 to raise their PPG by another point.
  2. We identified outliers as anyone who was -10% or more off their career PPRA. For example, if a running back averaged .6 for their career in PPRA anything lower than .54 would be considered an outlier for the analysis.
  3. Not all running backs in the sample qualified in the next year. Meaning they either retired, got injured or didn’t receive meaningful carries/touches the year after having an outlier season.
  4. We will be looking at the positive regression candidates. Or, the outliers in this analysis which had lower than expected PPRA. A similar analysis can be used for regression candidates or players who saw 10% higher PPRA from their career norms.

 

Avg. # of
Outliers Per Year
Avg. # Who Qualified the Following Year
PPRA Increase of
.08 or More
20.9 15.3 10.8
73% 70%

Chart Key

  • # of Outliers Per Year – The average number of running backs per year in the sample that had an outlier season of -10% or more
  • # Who Qualified the Following Year – The number of running backs per season who saw meaningful touches the next year after having an outlier season the year prior
  • PPRA Increase of .08 or More – This is the number of running backs per year who had an outlier season the year prior then saw at least a .08 improvement in PPRA.

The first question we needed to answer in the analysis was, “do players have outlier seasons in PPRA?”. The first column of the chart above shows on average how many running backs year over year saw an outlier year of at least -10%.

Now that we have confirmed that running backs do have outlier seasons, the next question we had to address was, “when they have those outlier years, do they bounce back closer to their career average?”. That brings us to column two. As you can see, of those running backs who had an outlier year, roughly 73% saw meaningful touches the following season. The good news is, the running backs we will be talking about today (and in future articles) will be in line for meaningful touches in 2021.

This brings us to the third and final column. Of the remaining 73% or 15.3 running backs per year, 10.8 or 70% saw an increase in PPRA of at least .08. That means roughly 70% saw enough of an increase in PPRA to average an additional one PPG more the following year if they averaged 12.5 carries per game.

 

  Outlier Year Next Year
PPRA 0.45 0.61
% increase   36%

 

Chart Key

  • PPRA – Average Points Per Rush Attempt of the running backs who had an outlier year in that metric
  • Outlier Year – This column represents the average PPRA a running back had during their outlier season of -10% or more from their career average
  • Next Year – This column represents the average PPRA a running back had the year after they had their outlier season of -10% or more from their career average

As you can see, the average increase for players who saw an outlier season was .16 which equals roughly two PPG more for running backs who average 200 carries total or 12.5 attempts per game in a season. This increase in PPRA is the equivalent to a running back going from the RB11 to RB5 and RB24 to RB12 in PPG in 2020. Those jumps in fantasy finish can come without any additional increase in usage from the previous season.

 

2020 PPRA Example

Player: Alvin Kamara

2019 PPRA: .64

Career PPRA: .85

 

Year PPRA Carries Per Game PPG
(Rushing only)
Total PPG
2019 0.64 12.2 7.8 15
2020 1.01 12.5 12.6 22.4

 

When comparing Alvin Kamara’s 2019 to 2020 we should point out that he did have an injury in 2019 which had an impact on his effectiveness. However, the benefit of using PPRA to identify players like Kamara is that we don’t need to see an uptick in usage to make big strides for fantasy. According to the chart above, Kamara only saw .3 more rush attempts per game, but was able to generate nearly five more points per game just from his rushing production alone.  This allowed Kamara to go from the RB12 in 2019 to the RB1 in 2020.

In the next article, we are going to review the 2020 PPRA running back outliers to see who has the potential to be a regression (positive or negative) candidate in 2021. Hint: some of the outliers include 2021 first round fantasy picks, 2nd year running backs and a few running back value picks this season.

Analysis Parameters:

  1. Running Back data was collected from 2011-2020
  2. This analysis was conducted in .5 PPR (points per reception) format
  3. Each running back in the analysis had at least one year of 100 touches. If a player fell below 100 touches in a season, that season was included in the analysis as long as they had previous years of 100 touches.
  4. 219 unique running backs qualified for the analysis

Sources: Razzball.com, FantasyPros, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Football Outsiders and FFToday.com