Do you have your snorkel and fins? Because we’re diving deep in this article.
What are we looking for? Yards created per carry (YCPC) from the running backs.
Yards created per carry is a stat that averages out how many yards a rusher compiled after the first evaded tackler per rushing attempt. This will enlighten us about the players who were able to gain extra yards and the players who were stopped at first impact.
This stat won’t tell you who the best runner is. You may realize that someone who gets 250 carries may not be as high as someone who only had 100 carries. Yet, this stat does provide the useful knowledge of which running backs are trending upward.
Before we get into who led the league, let’s first dive into some of the names that found themselves on the bottom tier.
45. Christian McCaffrey – CAR – .86 YCPC
46. Lamar Miller – HOU – .81 YCPC
47. Rob Kelly – WAS – .68 YCPC
48. Jamaal Williams – GB – .67 YCPC
49. James White – NE – .59 YCPC
This sequence of names stuck out to me most after examining this list. McCaffrey’s .86 YCPC isn’t the worst, but being a shifty back, I was hoping for a bigger average. Falling into the bottom of the 40’s will need to be addressed. With Stewart leaving, it’s a great time for CMC to get a full workload and get his YCPC up.
Jamaal Williams and Lamar Miller have red flags going into this season. The Texans are getting ready to move on to D’Onta Foreman, and the Packers are not sure who’ll be their starter moving forward. Along with the fact that neither of these running backs showed his worth in YCPC, the alarms are going off, and these two will be staying off of my draft board.
But I’m not here to talk about the players who underwhelmed after their first run-in with a tackler. I’m here to pump the top guys, the rushers that you needed to send an army after to tackle. There’s a few names that may surprise you, so hold your hats, because here we go.
#15 – LeSean McCoy – BUF – 1.47 YCPC
Another year older, another year wiser. McCoy is nicknamed ‘Shady’ for a reason. His elusiveness is still top of the league, even with 30 fast approaching. I’ll continue to assume continued success from Shady and will be targeting him in the second round.
#14 – Peyton Barber – TB – 1.52 YCPC
SLEEPER ALERT! Mark your calendars right now. I’ve already written about Barber being the top RB sleeper heading into the 2018 season. His 1.52 YCPC is fantastic, and he ran for his job in the latter half of the 2017 season. Hopefully he won it.
#13 – Joe Mixon – CIN – 1.54 YCPC
The main topic of many debates this offseason. Joe Mixon wasn’t the most impressive last year, but he proved he can run the ball and be successful towards the end. He has a lot to learn, but the talent is there and the inside stats are there, too.
#11 (Tied) – Marlon Mack – IND – 1.55 YCPC
Now that Gore has gone south for the season, it’s looking like it’s Mack’s turn to shine. There are reports floating around that Indianapolis isn’t sure about Mack being an every down back. The Colts are also in prime position for Saquon Barkley. Though, if the Colts go defense or offensive line with the 6th pick, then it’s Mack who will be breaking out this year.
#11 (Tied) – Isaiah Crowell – NYJ – 1.55 YCPC
Now that Crowell has joined the Jets, he’s the first of three Jets running backs on this list. Crowell ran well in 2017, despite a lack of touchdowns, finishing 11th in YCPC to go along with 853 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, the Browns weren’t winning many of their games and had to leave Crowell on the sideline in favor of pass-catcher Duke Johnson. With Crowell now in New York, there could be a chance of 1,000 yards in 2018.
#10 – Mike Davis – SEA – 1.7 YCPC
The best running back on Seattle, Mike Davis, proved he could be a monster when healthy. The Seahawks were sure to snag him back up during free agency, releasing Lacy and Rawls and making it seem to be Davis’s job for the foreseeable future. Averaging 1.7 YCPC shows that Davis is among the top in the NFL at getting a few extra yards. That’s something Seattle will rely on heavily.
#9 – Alex Collins – BAL – 1.78 YCPC
The most underrated running back in the league. Collins was top-ten in runs over ten yards, runs over ten yards per carry, yards created, yards created per carry, yards per carry vs stacked defenses. This guy was an elite runner and helped a lot of teams through the season, and possibly the best waiver wire transaction along with Dion Lewis (foreshadow). Ken Dixon will be coming back to Baltimore this season, but that doesn’t make me hesitate on Collins.
#8 – Derrick Henry – TEN – 1.81 YCPC
This isn’t even the best Titan on this list. However, let’s not jump any guns. Henry was a beast on his own last season and really came through in the playoffs for Tennessee. The Titans changed their uniform and their head coach, but still look like a team that will run it out most of the time. I like Henry and his 12.8 ypc against stacked defenses and his 1.81 YCPC.
#7 – LeGarrette Blount – DET – 1.83 YCPC
Not shockingly, Blount is a top-ten rusher when it comes to YCPC. He’s a monster when running the ball. He throws age away like it’s a banana peel and then looks to hit a defender. Blount has been on the last two Super Bowl teams and will now go to a Detroit team that’s hungry for a power runner.
#6 – Bilal Powell – NYJ – 1.85 YCPC
Another runner who is facing the 30-year-old mark. Another Jets running back, but maybe not the one you’d expect to be second of the three Jets on this list. Powell seems to have limited time in New York with the signing of Crowell. Yet, if YCPC tells us anything, it’s that Powell might be on the verge of 30, but he’s got legs that work.
#5 – Kareem Hunt – KC – 1.94 YCPC
Hunt blew up the scene on opening day of the NFL season in 2017. He hit a rookie wall towards the end, or maybe just wasn’t being utilized properly. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter, because Hunt still managed to lead the league in rushing yards, win rookie of the year, and is only expected to get better and used more in the coming season.
#4 – Kenyan Drake – MIA – 1.98 YCPC
Yet another player who will be debated quite a lot over the offseason. Drake finished the season very strong last year and has a lot of momentum. He ran the ball very well and more lanes should be opening up with the comeback of Tannehill. Drake will be a running back that people will reach for and it will either work out very well or bite them in the ass.
#3 – Marshawn Lynch – OAK – 1.99 YCPC
As close as you can get to averaging 2 or more YCPC. Lynch wasn’t great when he was in, nor did he emulate his signature ‘Beast Mode’ run. Yet, Lynch was a low-end reliable fantasy back. Jon Gruden has already said he wants Lynch as their guy, but also signed Doug Martin and still rostered Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Lynch might still be hard to bring down, thus averaging 1.99 YCPC. However, I’ll be looking elsewhere for running back depth come draft day.
#2 – Elijah McGuire – NYJ – 2.0 YCPC
The third and final Jet on this list is the youngster who is getting a lot of hype (mostly from me). McGuire looks to be a really talented runner, and his elusiveness and stubbornness to not go down has him second on a very important list. Something that people will need to evaluate is if McGuire will get touches. It’ll be hard for the Jets not to utilize his talents. So when the the time comes, and it will, make sure to snag McGuire up from the waivers.
#1 – Dion Lewis – NE – 2.56 YCPC
You read that right. Not only was Lewis one of the best running backs last season, not only did he probably help your team make the playoffs, not only is Lewis one of the waiver wire champions from last season, but he also cleared every other running back when it came to YCPC. His 2.56 is a madden stat when you think about it. It was almost guaranteed that Lewis wasn’t going to go down with the first tackle attempt. Now that he’s gone to Tennessee, it seems the Titans might have the best rushing tandem in the NFL.