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Breaking down RBs 4-9!

Past PPR Finishes 2016 2015 2014
LeSean McCoy 4th 19th 12th
Devonta Freeman 6th 1st 49th
DeMarco Murray 5th 15th 2nd
Melvin Gordon 7th 45th N/A
Jordan Howard 10th N/A N/A
Jay Ajayi 11th 86th N/A


Freeman and Murray stick out here as they each have 2 top 6 finishes at the position in the last three years, but this category isn’t quite as fair to Howard, Gordon, and Ajayi who haven’t yet finished 3 seasons.


2016 Volume Touches
LeSean McCoy 284
Devonta Freeman 281
DeMarco Murray 346
Melvin Gordon 295
Jordan Howard 281
Jay Ajayi 287


Melvin Gordon averaged 20.9 touches per game if you exclude week 13 when he suffered his injury.

Jordan Howard averaged 20.2 touches per game beginning week 4 when he became the starter.

Jay Ajayi averaged 21.9 touches per game over the Dolphins final 12 games.


YPC 2016 Career
LeSean McCoy 5.4 4.7
Devonta Freeman 4.8 4.3
DeMarco Murray 4.4 4.6
Melvin Gordon 3.9 3.7
Jordan Howard 5.2 5.2
Jay Ajayi 4.9 4.7


McCoy’s 5.4 YPC from 2016 is pretty incredible when you consider it’s .7 higher than his now career average (which was raised by that phenomenal season) and he did it at age 28.


Career Touches (Including Playoffs)
LeSean McCoy 2,327
Devonta Freeman 763
DeMarco Murray 1,736
Melvin Gordon 512
Jordan Howard 281
Jay Ajayi 362


McCoy’s workload is slightly concerning considering he’s now a 29 year old back with over 2,300 career touches. He’s dealt with nagging injuries the past two years and it’s reasonable to think he could begin to break down. However, due to the amount of touches that McCoy and Murray have, we have an extremely large sample size to judge them from. We know that these guys will produce if on the field. When we’re looking at guys with around 500 or less career touches in Gordon, Howard, and Ajayi, there’s slightly more uncertainty about their ability.


RZ Rushing Attempts Inside 10 Inside 5
LeSean McCoy 24 9
Devonta Freeman 27 16
DeMarco Murray 26 12
Melvin Gordon 27 17
Jordan Howard 16 8
Jay Ajayi 15 7


It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that some of the most coveted backs in fantasy were also the most active in the red zone. Freeman and Gordon tied for the 3rd most attempts inside the 10 yard line, with Murray and McCoy right behind them. Gordon’s numbers are easily the most impressive and encouraging of the group considering he really only played 12 games last season. With about the same games played as Ajayi and Howard he had significantly more work close to the endzone.


PFF Offensive Line Rankings
LeSean McCoy 10th
Devonta Freeman 6th
DeMarco Murray 4th
Melvin Gordon 21st
Jordan Howard 5th
Jay Ajayi 26th



The Chargers have already lost projected starter Forrest Lamp for the season which isn’t exactly encouraging for their already 21st ranked line. Maybe the big surprise to some would be the Bears line coming in 5th which is a big part of Jordan Howard’s success last season. Their interior line is monstrous and gave Howard the opportunity to succeed even in a bad offense. The Dolphins rank is interesting as they were arguably one of the better units in the league when they had their 5 starters together, but they’ve now lost Branden Albert and Mike Pouncey’s health remains a constant question mark. Pouncey hasn’t played 16 games since 2012. In games where Mike Pouncey played, Ajayi stat lines were… 10-42-1, 25-204-2, 28-214-1, 24-111-1, 19-79. When Pouncey played, Ajayi was elite.


Vegas Win Totals
LeSean McCoy 6
Devonta Freeman 9.5
DeMarco Murray 8.5
Melvin Gordon 7.5
Jordan Howard 5.5
Jay Ajayi 7.5


Courtesy of Ray Summerlin of Rotoworld (http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/73635/446/good-backs-on-bad-teams?ls=roto:nfl:gnav) - "Teams with running backs who finished in the top-12 at the position have averaged a little fewer than nine wins per season over the last five years. Of those 60 performances, only 13 played on teams with fewer than seven wins, and only seven came from teams with five wins or fewer.“ This is extremely concerning for Jordan Howard, and even LeSean McCoy to an extent. It’s hard to say that either will bust because of their teams because of what we saw from both last season, but that stat puts it pretty plainly that RBs on teams that fail to reach 7 wins are rarely fantasy RB1s.


LeSean McCoy 7th 8th 6th
Devonta Freeman 11th 11th 8th
DeMarco Murray 14th 18th 14th
Melvin Gordon 10th 13th 11th
Jordan Howard 15th 16th 13th
Jay Ajayi 16th 21st 18th




It’s surprising to me how late some of these RBs are lasting on average on ESPN as every one of them have their lowest ADP on that site.


I’ve tried to keep this mostly free of my potentially biased opinions and presented just as facts/rankings among these 6 to keep in mind when deciding between them. I’m curious to know what you guys find valuable among this information and if all of it being laid out at once like this changes anything for you. What makes you prefer one of these guys over the others?


Only thing missing to really do a unbiased post is Touchdowns. Howard didn’t have that many touchdowns outside of one game. That stat would rank him lower with such a bad team and low opportunities to score.

In my opinion I would switch the ADP of Howard with Ajayi =]


Only thing missing to really do a unbiased post is Touchdowns. Howard didn’t have that many touchdowns outside of one game. That stat would rank him lower with such a bad team and low opportunities to score.

Totally agreed that Howard is likely limited in TDs by the offense he plays in. I think that’s mostly covered by the RZ attempts inside the 10 and 5 though. With how fluky TDs can be (LeSean McCoy followed a season of 17 rushing TDs in 15 games with a season of 2 rushing TDs in 12 games) it’s difficult to say who will score the most in 2017. What we can look at though is RZ usage and see that Gordon had the most opportunities per game close the end zone, and Freeman and Murray were given plenty of opportunity as well.