5 Running Backs Who Drastically Outperformed Their Teammates in 2016
When discussing fantasy football, it's almost always impossible to discuss an individual running back's talent. There are so many factors -- offensive line, quarterback, even game flow -- that can mask talent that it's hard to get a true read on which players are duds and which are struggling simply due to a bad situation.
The one exception to that rule is players on the same team. If we've got Le'Veon Bell dusting DeAngelo Williams in the efficiency department while they're both playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we can likely say that Bell's the more talented back. Spoiler alert: he is.
Now, you probably don't need any help noticing that Bell's the superior running back when compared to Williams. But spotting other situations throughout the league in which a player out-performed his own teammates can help us find players who may be due for increased outputs in 2017. If the team recognizes talent, they may be inclined to give that player more volume and thrust them up the fantasy totem pole.
We can locate these discrepancies using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), the metric we use to track the efficiency of both teams and players with the team totals being adjusted for strength of opponent.
Here's how NEP works. Prior to each play, there's an expected number of points the offense will score on its current drive. A two-yard rush on 3rd and 1 picks up a first down and increases those expected points, meaning the player will gain positive NEP for the play. That same two-yard rush on 3rd and 3, however, will likely result in a punt, and NEP helps quantify the difference between those two outcomes.
Using NEP, let's find some running backs who may have flashed superior talent in 2016 by outperforming guys facing the same conditions as they did.