Fantasy Football: The 5 Most Efficient Pass-Catching Running Backs in 2018
You may have heard it mentioned once or twice, but the NFL is a passing league these days. As such, even players who are primarily employed to run the ball are growing increasingly important as receivers. While true every-down backs are few and far between, the top backs in the NFL last season all played their part as pass catchers. But who were the best receiving backs in 2018?
It is not enough to simply point at Saquon Barkley and declare that he was great catching passes. He was heavily involved for sure, seeing more targets than all but two backs: Christian McCaffrey and James White. But does volume automatically beget efficiency?
Yes, a team can funnel target after target to a running back, giving him a mass of counting statistics (not to mention a ton of value in points per reception formats), but which running backs had the most positive impact on their offense whenever they were targeted and caught the ball? In order to try and identify the most efficient pass catching running backs last season, I focused on two of the key metrics we use at numberFire: Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per target and Target Success Rate (If you want to learn more about NEP and Success Rate, check out our glossary). For reference, the average Target NEP per target of the sample was 0.16, and the average Target Success Rate was 48.22%.
I also looked at running backs who saw at least 30 targets in 2018. With these parameters in place, I narrowed it down to backs who ended the year in the top 10 in both of the aforementioned metrics, and with that, arrived at a top five.
Who are they? Let's get to it.