How Much Does Draft Age Matter for Running Backs? – The Wrong Read, No. 30
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Welcome to the 30th installment of the “The Wrong Read,” an article series that reflects on recent podcast episodes, pushing the ideas discussed on the podcasts to their logical conclusions and offering some further thoughts on the topics broached by the guests and hosts. Given all the players who’ve changed teams lately, it might be worthwhile to revisit how those players should be expected to perform. Here’s what I wrote about WRs who change teams. The issue of whether a player’s draft age influences his chances for success at the NFL level has come up on a few RotoViz podcasts. In previous articles, I explored the importance of draft age, or a player’s age during his rookie season, for both wide receivers and tight ends. In both cases I found that draft age is extremely important—that WRs and TEs who play as 21-year-old rookies drastically outperform their older peers. Is this also the case for running backs? That’s what the article you’re reading will try to determine. A future article will do the same for quarterbacks. We know that draft age is important for WRs and TEs. Let’s quickly review exactly what that means and how we determined this. Looking at every player-season since 2000, I calculated each player’s draft age his age on December 31 of the year he was drafted, or basically the end of his rookie season. Then I compared the fantasy production for each age group. Results from the previous two studies were even more striking than I could have imagined. Rookies who play WR or TE at the age of 21 have historically produced more top-ranked seasons with more average fantasy points than any other group—and it’s not even close. Now let’s apply the same methods to the RB position to see if this trend holds.