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Factoid

Older running backs

Elliott, Fournette continue to wait

Tomorrow is Ezekiel Elliott's 28th birthday, and he's still looking for a new employer. He's one of several veteran running backs of about that age without a job, another big name being Leonard Fournette (who recently worked out for New England). It's an increasingly suspect age for production from the position.

It didn't use to be that way, but now it's fair to say that 28 is the new 30. Squeezing another strong season out of a 28-year-old or older running back is less likely than it used to be.

I pulled all the 28-plus running backs out of our big file since 2000. From 2000 to 2012, there were 95 running backs at least that age who put up top-25 numbers (PPR scoring); about 8 per season. Curtis Martin, Eddie George, LaDainian Tomlinson; those guys were thriving at that age.

But in the last 10 years -- 2013 to 2022 -- Just 51 running backs have put up top-25 numbers (5 per year). And it's been a steady downward trend each year. Thirty-one of those seasons (0ver 60 percent) came in 2013, 2014 and 2015. And it's been especially lean lately.

In the last five years, only 8 running backs aged 28 or older have finished with top-25 numbers (less than 2 per season). Those are the odds working against Fournette or Elliott being a significant back in 2023.

TOP-25 RBS, AGED 28 OR OLDER (2013-PRESENT)
YearPlayerAgeAttRunNoRecTDPPRRk
2022Derrick Henry, Ten.2834915383339813308.84
2022Aaron Jones, G.B.282131121593957254.67
2022Jerick McKinnon, K.C.30722915651210198.320
2021Cordarrelle Patterson, Atl.301536185254811234.610
2021Melvin Gordon, Den.282039182821310201.118
2020David Johnson, Hou.29147691333148181.521
2019Mark Ingram, Balt.3020210182624715246.510
2018Adrian Peterson, Was.332511042202088193.019
2017Mark Ingram, N.O.2823011245841612284.06
2017LeSean McCoy, Buff.292871138594488265.67
2017Frank Gore, Ind.34261961292454173.620
2017DeMarco Murray, Ten.29184659392667173.521
2017Marshawn Lynch, Oak.31207891201517166.223
2016LeSean McCoy, Buff.2823412675035614298.34
2016DeMarco Murray, Ten.2829312875337712295.95
2016LeGarrette Blount, N.E.30299116173818234.99
2016Frank Gore, Ind.332631025382778216.212
2016Bilal Powell, NYJ28131722583885199.017
2016Matt Forte, NYJ31218813302638185.621
2016Darren Sproles, Phil.3394438524274162.524
2015Adrian Peterson, Min.3032714853022211266.72
2015Danny Woodhead, S.D.3098336807559243.13
2015DeAngelo Williams, Pitt.322009074036711235.45
2015Matt Forte, Chi.30218898443897216.78
2015Darren McFadden, Dall.282391089403283201.713
2015Frank Gore, Ind.32260967342677199.414
2015James Starks, G.B.29148601433925172.321
2015Rashad Jennings, NYG30195863292964168.922
2015Jonathan Stewart, Car.2824298916997166.823
2014Matt Forte, Chi.29266103810280810350.63
2014Marshawn Lynch, Sea.2828013063736717306.34
2014Arian Foster, Hou.2826012463832713277.65
2014Jamaal Charles, K.C.2820610334029114256.47
2014Justin Forsett, Balt.292351266442638246.98
2014Joique Bell, Det.28223860343228200.213
2014Fred Jackson, Buff.33141525665013188.616
2014Frank Gore, S.F.312551106111115162.721
2014Darren Sproles, Phil.3157329403878159.622
2014Ahmad Bradshaw, Ind.2890425383008158.523
2013Matt Forte, Chi.2828913397459412341.32
2013Reggie Bush, Det.282231006545067247.27
2013Chris Johnson, Ten.2827910774234510244.29
2013Adrian Peterson, Min.2827912662917111238.710
2013Fred Jackson, Buff.322068904738710234.711
2013Danny Woodhead, S.D.28106429766058227.412
2013Pierre Thomas, N.O.29147549775135213.216
2013Frank Gore, S.F.302761128161419196.918
2013Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac.28234803433145189.119
2013Darren Sproles, N.O.3053220716044177.423
2013Rashad Jennings, Oak.28163733362926174.524
2013DeAngelo Williams, Car.30201843263334167.625

It's a young man's game, especially at running back. Fantasy starters at 28 or 29; good luck. A cautionary note for the three guys who did it last year (Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones and Jerick McKinnon, who was more receiver than runner anyway), too.

--Andy Richardson

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