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Factoid

Running backs

Changeover common at running back

Teams don’t tend to pay running backs much nowadays. They also don’t tend to stick with them for long. With injuries and lineup changes, this isn’t a position where you can ever be totally confident you’re picking a player who’ll be the most productive guy on even his own team.

Consider the chart below. It shows each team’s most productive running back in each of the last three seasons (using PPR scoring). Only eight of the league’s 32 teams have been led in production by the same player in each of the last three seasons.

Of those eight backs, six will be with new teams in 2024 (Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler, Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry). That leaves James Conner and Alvin Kamara as the only two backs with the potential to lead the same team in production in a fourth straight season.

In the chart below, I have the three-peaters tagged with black dots.

Another eight teams, meanwhile, have been led by a different running back in each of the last three seasons. I’ve got those guys in bold.

That leaves another 16 teams (half the league) where they’ve been led by one back in two of the last three years.

It serves as a reminder that change comes quick at running back, and also that it makes sense to be sure to throw some later-round picks on second-string running backs with the potential to ascend.

RUNNING BACK LEADERS (PPR, last 3 yrs)
Team202320222021
Arizona•J.Conner•J.Conner•J.Conner
AtlantaB.RobinsonT.AllgeierC.Patterson
BaltimoreG.EdwardsK.DrakeD.Freeman
BuffaloJ.CookD.SingletaryD.Singletary
CarolinaC.HubbardD.ForemanC.Hubbard
ChicagoK.HerbertD.MontgomeryD.Montgomery
Cincinnati•J.Mixon•J.Mixon•J.Mixon
ClevelandJ.FordN.ChubbN.Chubb
DallasT.PollardT.PollardE.Elliott
DenverJ.WilliamsM.GordonJ.Williams
DetroitJ.GibbsJ.WilliamsD.Swift
Green Bay•A.Jones•A.Jones•A.Jones
HoustonD.SingletaryD.PierceR.Burkhead
IndianapolisZ.MossJ.TaylorJ.Taylor
JacksonvilleT.EtienneT.EtienneJ.Robinson
Kansas CityI.PachecoJ.McKinnonD.Williams
LA Chargers•A.Ekeler•A.Ekeler•A.Ekeler
LA RamsK.WilliamsC.AkersD.Henderson
Las Vegas•J.Jacobs•J.Jacobs•J.Jacobs
MiamiR.MostertR.MostertM.Gaskin
MinnesotaA.MattisonD.CookD.Cook
New EnglandE.ElliottR.StevensonD.Harris
New Orleans•A.Kamara•A.Kamara•A.Kamara
NY Giants•S.Barkley•S.Barkley•S.Barkley
NY JetsB.HallM.CarterM.Carter
PhiladelphiaD.SwiftM.SandersK.Gainwell
PittsburghJ.WarrenN.HarrisN.Harris
San FranciscoC.McCaffreyC.McCaffreyE.Mitchell
SeattleK.WalkerK.WalkerR.Penny
Tampa BayR.WhiteL.FournetteL.Fournette
Tennessee•D.Henry•D.Henry•D.Henry
WashingtonB.RobinsonA.GibsonA.Gibson

—Ian Allan

Fantasy Index