At the halfway point of the season, the league’s most effective short-yardage runner is … Joe Flacco? Well, that’s what the numbers say.

Once per week, I like to look at the overview stats from one of the areas we track – usually passing, rushing or receiving around the end zone. For this week, I’m looking at key rushing plays. That is, when a team needs to pick up 1 yards on either third or fourth down to keep a drive alive, or has the ball on the 1-yard line of an opponent, who does it tend to give the ball, and is that player effective?

Turns out Joe Flacco is the current clubhouse leader. They’ve used him 9 times on quarterback sneaks, and he’s converted all of them. Similarly, Marcus Mariota is 8 for 8 on such plays.

Nine players have handled the ball at least 4 times on such plays and converted every time, and all but one of those players is a quarterback. Phillip Lindsay is the running back leader, hitting on all 5 of his plays.

Three other running backs have converted over 80 percent of such plays: Alvin Kamara, LeGarrette Blount and Derrick Henry.

Five players have run the ball on at least 13 such plays, and they’re all running backs: Todd Gurley, Ezekel Elliott, James Conner, Sony Michel and Jordan Howard. (While Michel has had a lot of those carries, he hasn’t been that effective – 7 of 13.)

Two others have double-digit short-yardage carries, but neither has been that effective. Carlos Hyde has gone 6 of 11, while Alfred Blue has converted 5 of 10. We tend to think of Lamar Miller as Houston’s starting, featured running back, but he has only 1 carry all year when the Texans were looking for a yard – Blue has had 10 times as many attempts.

Other observations.

In Buffalo, Chris Ivory has gone 3 of 5 on these plays, while LeSean McCoy just 0 for 1.

Jordan Howard looks like the main goal-line choice for the Bears. He’s gone 8 of 13 when they’ve been looking for a key yard, while Tarik Cohen is just 0 for 1.

You might logically figure Mark Ingram would be the goal-line back in New Orleans. He’s more of grinder than Alvin Kamara. But Ingram is just 2 for 2 on these kind of plays since coming back for their last four games. With Kamara, they can use Taysom Hill has a zone-read quarterback. Hill is 3 for 3, while Kamara is 6 of 7.

For the Eagles, they’ve used a league-high 8 different players for these kind of plays. Carson Wentz is the only one with 3 attempts.

"AND ONE" RUSHING (individual leaders)
J.Flacco, BAL991.000
M.Mariota, TEN881.000
A.Smith, WAS551.000
B.Bortles, JAX551.000
D.Brees, NO551.000
P.Lindsay, DEN551.000
S.Darnold, NYJ551.000
B.Roethlisberger, PIT441.000
M.Trubisky, CHI441.000
A.Kamara, NO76.857
D.Henry, TEN65.833
L.Blount, DET65.833
S.Barkley, NYG65.833
C.Newton, CAR54.800
M.Gordon, LAC54.800
K.Hunt, KC86.750
A.Peterson, WAS43.750
D.Prescott, DAL43.750
J.Allen, BAL43.750
K.Cousins, MIN43.750
M.Mack, IND43.750
T.Coleman, ATL43.750
E.Elliott, DAL1511.733
J.Conner, PIT1410.714
C.Carson, SEA75.714
R.Freeman, DEN75.714
T.Gurley, LAR1712.706
A.Collins, BAL64.667
M.Lynch, OAK85.625
J.Howard, CHI138.615
C.Ivory, BUF53.600
E.Manning, NYG53.600
J.White, NE53.600
T.Yeldon, JAX53.600
A.Morris, SF74.571
J.Mixon, CIN95.556
C.Hyde, CLE-JAC116.545
S.Michel, NE137.538
A.Blue, HOU105.500
D.Johnson, ARI63.500
I.Crowell, NYJ42.500
K.Drake, MIA42.500

Here are the team totals. Tampa Bay is the only team that’s converted on all of its running plays, but it has a league-low 3 attempts (only three other teams don’t have at least double-digit carries).

Only two teams have converted fewer than half of these kind of running plays – Raiders and Texans. Everyone else is over 54 percent.

"AND ONE" RUSHING (team totals)
Tampa Bay331.000
New Orleans1816.889
Kansas City1310.769
NY Giants129.750
NY Jets129.750
San Francisco1813.722
LA Rams2417.708
Green Bay64.667
New England2414.583
LA Chargers116.545

—Ian Allan