I starting doing the research on the starting AFC South Running backs: Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and Vick Ballard and I wanted to compare their on field production. This article will point out a variety of statistic...
I starting doing the research on the starting AFC South Running backs: Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and Vick Ballard and I wanted to compare their on field production. This article will point out a variety of statistics as I don't have the time to watch every snap. I know stats don't always tell the whole truth. But a reoccurring trend occurs, which may suggest the NFL community has been underrating one RB in the AFC South.
Before I look at stats though, let's see how Matt Miller ranked the RBs:
At 54, Vick Ballard, with a grade of 69/100. Maurice Jones-Drew received a 83/100 grade, ranking 14. Chris Johnson was ranked at 12th best, and scored 83/100 too. And the winner here was Foster, ranking 9th overall and scored 85/100. So, yeah, that is what Miller thinks after looking at the tape.
So, without further ado, I will analyze the various stats and declare who I believe the RB in the AFC South I'd want on my team.
Arian Foster kills it here. A staggering 1,424 yards, 15 rush TDs, 4.1 yards rushing average, 2 receiving TDs and only 1 fumble per 130 touches (130.333 to be more precise). Chris Johnson too had big plays. 1,243 yards rush yards, 6TD- including a 94 yard TD home run, 4.5 rushing yards average and fumbled every 62.4 carries. Jones-Drew was largely inactive last year, but hey, durability is a major determinant in being a top player. To be a little fair towards him, i'll average out his 2011 and 2012 stats here: 1010 yrds/yr, 4.71/carry and an average of 6.5 total TDS/yr. Finally, Vick Ballard had 3 total TDs, 3.9 yards/carry and 814 rushing yards (8.9 yrds/reception too: the most of the AFC South RBs). All in all, it seems Foster or Johnson wins these statistics. Moving on..
Foster too wins here, receiving a Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement score ("DYAR means a running back with more total value") of 105 (he ranked 20th/play), ranking 13th of the 42 players that had 100+ carries. Ballard had 10 DYAR value (he ranked 27th/play- fairly close to Foster's rank), ranking 27th/42 overall. CJ had a disappointing -30 grade, 33rd/42 overall (he ranked 32nd/play). Jones-Drew qualified for another group (the 20-99 rushing category), scoring a DYAR of 27. Of the three AFC South rushers that qualified in the 100+ carries category, Vick Ballard had the best Success Rate (representing consistency) at 48% (10% lower than McGahee, who was ranked #1 in this category). Foster's success rate was close to Ballard's at 47% and CJ disappointed again, as his 41% ranked 38/42 of those who qualified. Lastly, the Effective Yards, which is "DVOA into a yards per attempt figure.... players with more Effective Yards than standard yards played better than standard stats would otherwise indicate"). Foster had a monster 1461 EYards (approximately 40 more than his raw yards). Johnson had a dramatic dip between his raw yards and his EYards, having only 895 (351 under his raw yards). Ballard saw a slight dip, having 767 EYards. MJD too dipped from his raw yards, scoring 347 EYards. To compare their EYards more fairly (as Foster and CJ had much more carries than MJD and Ballard), Foster had 4.162 EYards/rush. MJD had 4.035 EYards/ rush. Ballard had 3.635 EYards/rush. CJ had 3.243 EYards/rush (Football Outsiders really contradict CJ's standard stats). Thus, I can tell you Football Outsider statistics rank Foster the best. Followed by MJD (before he got injured) and then Vick Ballard. Which leads us to CJ, whose advanced stats here painted a much different picture than his raw stats painted (Raw stats: 4.5 yards/carry. EYards: 3.243 only!). Moving on...
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS
Let's first look at a (so to say) less important aspect of being a runningback: receiving ability. Ballard ranked first of the three AFC South RBs that qualified (MJD didn't qualify), as he scored .88 Yards per Route Run (YPRR), ranking #37/50 as he had 1.11 YPRR than the receiving RB master: D. Sproles. CJ h