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Is There a Correlation Between RB Combine Numbers and Fantasy Football Success?

NFL Combine compressor

Using information from the last five NFL seasons, I examined the top fantasy running back single season performances and those players’ Combine stats to look for trends that may help fantasy football players target certain rookies ball carriers moving forward.

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NFL Combine and Fantasy Success

The stretch from the last whistle of the Super Bowl to the first mock draft of the next season is a lonely one for the fantasy football community. But on a few occasions during this time of utter boredom, the fantasy football fanatics do get a chance to get excited again about football. The first of which is the NFL Draft Combine.

While casual fans get an opportunity to watch the next wave of NFL talent run and jump in t-shirts and shorts, many fantasy footballers try to get the inside track on which soon to be rookie will have a fantasy impact at the next level. So with that in mind, I was curious to which, if any, of the NFL Combine measurables, were predictors of future NFL success.

To explore this potential advantage over my fellow fantasy dynasty/keeper leagues mates, I first started by taking a look at the running back position. More specifically, if any of the measurables done at the Combine could be used to predict fantasy goodness at the next level for the position.

Using information from the last five NFL seasons, I examined the top fantasy running back single season performances and those players’ Combine stats to look for trends that may help Fantasy Football players target certain rookies ball carriers moving forward.

NFL Combine 2017

Full NFL Combine Results HERE

RkPlayerSeasonAgeTeamFantPt
1David Johnson201625ARI327.8
2Jamaal Charles201327KAN308
3Adrian Peterson201227MIN307.4
4DeMarco Murray201426DAL294.1
5Ezekiel Elliott201621DAL293.4
6Le’Veon Bell201422PIT287.5
7LeSean McCoy201325PHI278.6
8Marshawn Lynch201428SEA265.3
9Matt Forte201328CHI263.3
10Doug Martin201223TAM262.6
11Arian Foster201226HOU262.1
12LeSean McCoy201628BUF248.3
13Marshawn Lynch201226SEA246.6
14Matt Forte201429CHI244.6
15Devonta Freeman201523ATL243.4
16Le’Veon Bell201624PIT242.4
17Alfred Morris201224WAS241
18DeMarco Murray201628TEN240.8
19Marshawn Lynch201327SEA239.3
20Knowshon Moreno201326DEN236.6
21Arian Foster201428HOU235.5
22Adrian Peterson201530MIN230.7
23Eddie Lacy201424GNB230.6
24Devonta Freeman201624ATL230.1
25LeGarrette Blount201630NWE225.9
26Ray Rice201225BAL222.1
27C.J. Spiller201225BUF212.3
28Jamaal Charles201428KAN210.4
29Melvin Gordon201623SDG209.6
30Eddie Lacy201323GNB207.5
31DeMarco Murray201325DAL205.1
32Jamaal Charles201226KAN204.5
33Adrian Peterson201328MIN203.7
34Trent Richardson201222CLE203.7
35Justin Forsett201429BAL202.9
RkPlayerSeasonAgeTeamFantPt
36Jordan Howard201622CHI201.1
37Stevan Ridley201223NWE199.4
38Doug Martin201526TAM199.3
39Chris Johnson201328TEN198.2
40Frank Gore201229SFO196.8
41Mark Ingram201627NOR196.2
42DeAngelo Williams201532PIT191.4
43Jay Ajayi201623MIA188.3
44Fred Jackson201332BUF187.7
45Todd Gurley201521STL187.4
46Lamar Miller201423MIA185.4
47Reggie Bush201328DET185.2
48Lamar Miller201524MIA184.9
49Ryan Mathews201326SDG184.4
50Jeremy Hill201422CIN183.9
51Matt Forte201227CHI177.4
52C.J. Anderson201423DEN177.3
53Frank Gore201633IND176.2
54Chris Johnson201227TEN175.5
55Latavius Murray201626OAK175.2
56Frank Gore201330SFO174.9
57David Johnson201524ARI173.8
58Chris Ivory201527NYJ172.7
59Le’Veon Bell201321PIT171.9
60Reggie Bush201227MIA171.8
61LeSean McCoy201426PHI171.4
62Alfred Morris201426WAS170.9
63Matt Forte201530CHI170.7
64Alfred Morris201325WAS169.3
65Shonn Greene201227NYJ167.4
66Giovani Bernard201322CIN166.9
67Isaiah Crowell201623CLE165.1
68Carlos Hyde201625SFO165.1
69Joique Bell201428DET164.2
70Latavius Murray201525OAK163.8

Height

The first NFL Combine measurable that I looked at was the running backs’ height. Of the top-30 fantasy seasons in the last five years, 25 of the running backs measured in at a minimum of 70 inches.

height
And of the top-14 single season running back fantasy seasons in those five years, just one of those running backs (2012-Doug Martin) came in under 70 inches tall. So it appears that the 70-inch mark is the target for elite fantasy running backs.

It should be noted that even as you move down the list into the 31-75 top running back fantasy performances of the last five years, a majority of the running backs continue to be above the 70 inch cut off. Just 15 of those ball carriers measure in under the mark.
With it looking like that height does matter for a running back in terms of success, this information does help eliminate some of these soon to be rookie running back from fantasy consideration at the next level. Just 22 of the 33 running backs tested at the NFL Combine this year hit the 70-inch mark.

Running Backs at 2017 NFL Combine who are less than 70 inches tall
PlayerSchoolHeight
Cohen, TarikNorth Carolina A&T State66″
Dayes, MattNorth Carolina State69″
Henderson, De’AngeloCoastal Carolina67″
Jones, AaronUTEP69″
Logan, T.J.North Carolina69″
McGuire, ElijahLouisiana-Lafayette69″
McNichols, JeremyBoise St.68″
Pumphrey, DJSan Diego St.68″
Redding, DevineIndiana68″
Thomas, JahadTemple69″
Williams, StanleyKentucky67”

Weight

After examining the top 75 single season fantasy performers over the last five season, it appears that weight is similar to height. There is some insight into predicting fantasy success by taking a look at the weight of the ball carriers at the Combine.

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs

While it is not as predictive as the height measurement, 38 of the top 75 single-season fantasy rushers over the past five seasons weighed between 215 and 225 pounds at the Combine. The next closest range was the 195-200 pounds, that included just eight of the top fantasy runnings over the last five seasons.

This year’s rookie running back class is not loaded with players in the ideal fantasy range of 215 to 225 pounds. In fact of the 33 ball carriers to attend the NFL Combine, just six of them weighed in this 215 – 225 lbs range.

 

RB’s at 2017 NFL Combine who weighed between 215-225 lbs
PlayerSchoolWeight
Carson, ChristopherOklahoma St.218 lbs
Clement, CoreyWisconsin220 lbs
Gallman, WayneClemson215 lbs
Hill, BrianWyoming219 lbs
Hunt, KareemToledo216 lbs
Smith, De’VeonMichigan223 lbs

This isn’t to say that these running backs will be the only ones of the 33 to provide fantasy success in the NFL but the data suggests this weight range has provided the most success by running backs over the last five seasons.

40 Yard Dash

All of the pre-draft hype associated with the 40-yard dash is for good reason. The data is very predictive of fantasy success for running backs in recent years.

Starting at 4.35 and advancing in 0.05 increments there is not much of a difference in the number of players in each range. The largest range is 4.6 – 4.65, which has 11 of the top-75 players. But each 0.05 increment from 4.35 – 4.65 has at least six players. While there is not one dominate 0.05 range to pick from, there is still a strong trend if you expand out the increments to 0.10. With that in mind It may be best to target running backs from the 4.4 – 4.7 range as the majority of the top fantasy running backs from the last five seasons fell between this range.

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs 1

[the_ad id=”63198″]Of the 75 running backs being examined here, 17 of them did not run the 40-yard dash at the Combine. This leaves only 58 running backs in which to evaluate. 48 of those ball carriers ran a 40-yard dash at the Combine between the 4.4 – 4.7 range.
While that is a vast majority of the running backs, this information does not help us decipher through this year’s crop of soon to be rookie runners. Of the 28 running backs to run the 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine, 24 of them ran between a 4.4 and a 4.7. Only Devine Redding, Sam Rogers, Rushel Shell and Freddie Stevenson failed to be clocked at that speed.

Bench Press

Of the top 75 single season fantasy running backs of the last five years, just 47 of them participated in the bench press event at the NFL Combine. Those that missed the bench press includes three of the top five running backs in this span. But the majority of those top fantasy ball carriers that did participate finished in the 18-24 rep range.

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs 2

29 of the 47 top fantasy running backs over the last five seasons who lifted at the Combine, fell into this range.

This year’s rookie crop landed 16 of the 33 running backs at the 2017 NFL Combine within the 18-24 range. It should be noted that of 17 that failed to hit this mark, two of them did not lift and one exceeds the mark with 30 reps.

RB’s at 2017 NFL Combine who did not do 18-24 reps

PlayerSchoolReps
Cohen, TarikNorth Carolina A&T State11
Leonard FournetteLouisiana State DNP
Hill, BrianWyoming15
Jones, AaronUTEP16
Kamara, AlvinTennessee15
Logan, T.J.North Carolina17
Mack, MarlonSouth Florida15
McCaffrey, ChristianStanford10
McGuire, ElijahLouisiana-Lafayette15
McNichols, JeremyBoise St.DNP
Ogunbowale, DareWisconsin14
Perine, SamajeOklahoma30
Pumphrey, DJSan Diego St.5
Redding, DevineIndiana16
Thomas, JahadTemple11
Williams, JamaalBrigham YoungDNP
Williams, JoeUtah14

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Vertical Jump

At first thought you may not think that the vertical jump measurement would be predictive of future fantasy success, but there were some strong trend discovered with this NFL Combine event.

Of the top 75 single season fantasy running back performances of the last five years, only 50 of those running backs participated in the vertical jump at the Combine. But 42 of the 50 jumped in the 30 and 38 inch range. And 34 percent of those that did jump were measured between 34 and 36 inches.

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs 3

10 of the 33 running backs to participate in this year’s NFL Combine failed to reach 30 inches in the vertical jump, with three of those being because they did not participate.

And eight of the 33 soon to be ball carriers land in the 34-36 range that was the most populated by the top fantasy running backs over the last five years.

RBs at 2017 NFL Combine who reached 34-36 range in Vertical Jump
PlayerSchoolVJ
Henderson, De’AngeloCoastal Carolina34”
Hill, BrianWyoming34”
Mack, MarlonSouth Florida35.5”
McGuire, ElijahLouisiana-Lafayette36”
McNichols, JeremyBoise St.35.5”
Ogunbowale, DareWisconsin35”
Williams, JoeUtah35”
Williams, StanleyKentucky36”

Broad

Like many of the measurables not named height and weight, a number of the top 75 single-season fantasy running backs of the last five years sat out the Broad Jump at their respective NFL Combine appearance.

Only 50 of those runners participated at their respective Combines. Of those that jumped, 33 of them finished in the 115-125 range. 19 of the ball carriers jumped between 115 and 120, while 14 jumped from 120-125.

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs 3 1

20 of the 33 running backs at this season’s NFL Combine fell within the 115-125 range. With 14 of them falling into the more heavily populated 115-120 range. Just these 13 college players failed to be within the coveted range for fantasy success:

 

RBs at 2017 NFL Combine who didn’t reach 115-125 on the Broad Jump

PlayerSchoolBJ
Carson, ChristopherOklahoma State130
Connor, JamesPittsburgh113
Davis, JustinUSCDNP
Dayes, MattNorth Carolina State109
Foreman, D’ontaTexasDNP
Fournette, LeonardLouisiana StateDNP
Hood, ElijahNorth CarolinaDNP
Jones, AaronUTEP127
Kamara, AlvinTennessee131
Rogers, SamVirginia Tech114
Shell, RushelWest VirginiaDNP
Smith, De’VeonMichigan108
Stevenson, FreddieFlorida State111

3-Cone

Only 44 of the top 75 fantasy single season running backs of the last five years participated in the 3-Cone event at their respective NFL Combines. The distribution of the results of these times presents an interesting situation. When looking at the times broken down by 0.1 seconds the two most populated slots are the 6.8-6.9 and the 7.0-7.1. But the 6.9-7.0 is one of the least populated with just two of those 44 players falling into that range.

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs 4

While looking at this year’s NFL Combine results only 15 of the 33 running backs ran the 3-cone drill. And of the 15 that did, only three were able to fall into one of the two trends of past successful running backs. Those three were: Brian Hill, Aaron Jones and Stanley Williams.

20 Yard Shuttle

Using the successful running backs of the last five seasons as the benchmark, the 20-Yard Shuttle run appears to be a great predictor of fantasy excellence by ball carriers. Of the top 75 fantasy ball carriers of the last five years, 43 of them ran the short shuttle at their combine. And 31 of them finished between the 4.1 – 4.3-second range

Using Combine Numbers to Find Future Fantasy Success Google Docs 5

With 72 percent of these top running backs landing between 4.1 and 4.3 seconds these seem like the times to target when looking at future running backs for fantasy purposes.

Only 15 of the running backs at this season’s NFL Combine ran the short shuttle. Six of them were able to record a time within the desired range in which most of the top fantasy running backs of the last five season fell.

 

RBs at 2017 NFL Combine who ran the 20 Yards Shuttle between 4.1 – 4.3

PlayerSchool20 Yard Shuttle Time
Gallman, WayneClemson4.28
Jones, AaronUTEP4.2
McCaffrey, ChristianStanford4.22
McNichols, JeremyBoise State4.28
Williams, JoeUtah4.19
Williams, StanleyKentucky4.18

Conclusion

Admittedly this look at the past five years of Fantasy success by running backs and their NFL Combine numbers was not a scientific study. But instead, it was an opportunity to find trends among the top fantasy running backs of recent history and their measurable numbers from the Combine.

So this look into the measurables is not an end all be all for determining which soon to be NFL running backs will be successful. Instead, it is another tool to use in determining if one of these running back should be a part of your future fantasy teams.

In order to help condense all of this information in an easy to read format, below is a chart that shows how each running back stacks up against the trends found for each of the NFL Combine measurables from the top 75 single season fantasy performances by running backs over the past five season. If the cell is highlighted green they fit the trend. Gray means the running back did not participate in that event. Finally, red means that the ball carrier did not fit within the trend discussed.

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