Visualizing the Ascendance of Pass-Catching Backs

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to test my belief that pass-catching backs are significantly more important to fantasy football today than just a few years ago. Back in January, I examined the specifics of the trend we are all pretty aware of – the league’s continued shift toward more and more passing. I followed that up examining the actionability of said trend, though the data I was using – and my approach – led to a somewhat confusing conclusion about the rise of pass-catching backs. Still, I’ve been confident in that conclusion, despite not really knowing the best way to present it. When I saw a popular chart from the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective floating around Twitter recently, it gave me an idea. I did a little digging through the numbers, and the visuals I came up with tell the story of the rise of the type of backs whose usage is best defined by what our Eternally Guiding Light1 recently dubbed the Sproles Line. Here, now, is a story told in three visuals.
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By Ben Gretch | @YardsPerGretch | Archive

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  1. Really enjoyed this article Ben, Thanks!

    I could definitely see going after pass catching backs (almost exclusively) in later rounds as a viable way to employ Zero RB, even if others use Zero RB or know its coming.

    Can we expect to see more on the "value of the pass catching back" idea?

  2. Thanks, I appreciate that! Definitely expect more on this as the offseason goes on, from myself or others. Seems too obvious to not get more discussion.

    One thing I'd love to see is injury rates for RBs with a higher ratio of receptions to carries. Have often wondered about the legitimacy of the old narrative about being tackled by DBs more than D-Linemen leading to fewer injuries. Is that something you've ever looked at?

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