Ryan Mathews, Shane Vereen, and Running Back Dissonance


This is part two of this series. See the WR version here.

Fantasy drafts are in full swing, and we’ve written a lot recently about our draft strategies and targets at various positions. For this article, I’m taking a look at the running backs with the most variability in their rankings. These are guys the experts disagree on. Some love ‘em, some hate ‘em. But at some point on draft night, you’ll have to make a decision about these guys: take them at their current ADP, look for them if they drop, or skip them all together. Are these guys great targets for your team or not? Let’s find out.

To begin, I took Fantasy Pros PPR Projections and pasted them into a table. I focused on the top 50 ranked backs, minus rookies. Then I added some analysis, research, and commentary from Rotoviz. Hopefully this exercise helps distill your thinking about these backs. Here’s what the table tells us.

  • Rank – The Expert Consensus Rank.
  • Standard Deviation – The amount of variability in how the experts rank the player. For the top 50 ranked RBs, the average deviation was 5.34. All of these players have a higher deviation, meaning there’s less agreement among the experts. The higher the number, the less agreement.
  • ADP – The player’s current RB ADP.
  • Vs. ADP – The difference between the player’s ADP and their Expert Consensus Rank. Positive numbers are good (the player is expected to outperform their ADP), negative numbers are bad.
  • Volatility – I used the Volatility metric developed by Jonathan Bales to highlight the variability present in our WR App projections for the player. The formula is (High Projection – Low Projection) / Median Projection. Lower scores indicate a more stable projection.
  • Median Projection – The median PPR points/game projection from our WR App.
  • Research – Links to awe inspiring, jaw dropping RotoViz content about the player.
  • Target? – Would I target the player at their current ADP? Feel free to disagree!
Rank Player StDev ADP Vs ADP Volatility Median Projection Research Comment Target?
23 Ryan Mathews 5.6 24 1 0.59 11 Ryan Mathews? Ryan Mathews. 15th-best median projection for all RBs. Very productive on per-snap basis. Was on RB18 pace last year All Day. Not as volatile as you might think, great projection.
24 Shane Vereen 5.8 29 5 1.1 5.4 An X’s & O’s Look at Vereen Opportunity is important for RBs, & Vereen seems almost certain to have expanded role. Very volatile projection, inscrutable head coach. I’ll pass.
25 Daryl Richardson 5.9 30 5 1.7 4.6 It’s Time to Buy on Daryl Richardson Has some really, really good comps. Pead not impressing. A Rob Deer pick: home run or strike out? Very volatile, high risk/reward. I’m out.
30 Rashard Mendenhall 5.3 31 1 0.72 5.7 Mild Post-Hype Appeal Best bet in ARI backfield. Uh. Hard to get excited about a 5.7 p/g projection.
32 Andre Brown 5.3 33 1 1.2 6.9 Underrated, RB Rankings Complementary Backs are usually flex plays in Coughlin’s offense. I like him, but nah. I like the next 2 better.
33 DeAngelo Williams 8.1 36 3 1 8.4 Underrated, RB Rankings Stewart looks iffy. More opportunity for D-Willy. Aging, volatile. I can relate. I’m in.
35 Mark Ingram 5.7 35 0 0.74 8.9 Can Ingram be a RB2 in 2013? Healthy & in best usage situation of career. Closest to consensus amongst experts, decent projection, great offense. But Pierre is cheaper. Not for me.
36 Danny Woodhead 8.2 43 7 0.69 7.4 A Fontaine Fave Don’t think he has upside if Mathews injured, like Ingram would if Sproles/Thomas injured. Also Brady > Rivers Nope.
37 Pierre Thomas 6.9 45 8 0.6 7.3 Shawn Siegele likes him. Less volatile projection, cheaper than Ingram. Sure.
38 Fred Jackson 6.8 41 3 0.8 5.9 Uh, we don’t have any. Possibly the worst set of comps, ever. Move along.
39 Ronnie Hillman 8.8 38 -1 0.91 4.7 Overrated, RB Rankings Three preseason fumbles. Nah.
40 Jacquizz Rodgers 7.3 48 8 0.99 9.1 How to Lose a Draft in 10 Picks. Volatile projection, little consensus. Why?
41 Ben Tate 7.2 37 -4 1 5.4 So You’re Saying There’s a Chance? Guys lower down make better handcuffs with higher projections Nyet.
42 Vick Ballard 7.8 40 -2 0.71 10.9 Vick Ballard, Fantasy Sleeper Opportunity counts, and Bradshaw’s injury history might catch up. Served well last year, good projection. Yup.
44 Jonathan Stewart 8.5 44 0 0.55 6.2 Ain’t got none. Injured, questionable to start season. No way.
45 Bernard Pierce 5.8 39 -6 0.93 8.4 Second Year Sim Scores With losses elsewhere on offense, should see regular usage. Great upside if Rice goes down. Me likey.
46 Isaiah Pead 7.8 51 5 0.89 4.6 Rams Backfield, Isaiah Pead Hasn’t done much to improve outlook this preseason. Low projection. Not a chance.
47 Bryce Brown 6.5 42 -5 0.57 10.8 Second Year Sim Scores Low volatility, solid projection, likely a run-based offense, upside if McCoy goes down. Yeah.
48 Jonathan Dwyer 12.3 50 2 0.78 10.2 Saved by the Bell (Injury) Who gets the carries? When does Bell return? I’ll pass.
49 Joique Bell 10.5 63 14 0.69 7 Gold vs. Fool’s Gold Has well & truly passed Leshoure. Flex play with upside if Bush goes down. Man crush.
50 Mikel Leshoure 9.8 46 -4 0.6 13.4 ADP Arbitrage See above. Nevah.

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By James Todd | @spidr2ybanana | Archive

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