Frank Gore Is Still Relevant in Fantasy Football
He's been a Pro Bowl player five times, has topped 1,000 yards rushing in nine seasons, and currently ranks eighth on the all-time career rushing list. If he manages to collect over 1,036 yards this yea, he'll find himself in fourth place, which is ahead of Curtis Martin and behind Barry Sanders.
Sure, that all makes him a legit Hall of Fame candidate, but how does that translate to fantasy football? He's entering 2017 as a 34-year-old and is fresh off averaging below four yards per carry in each of the last two seasons. Is it time to start fading him in fantasy drafts?
This discussion starts with cost versus performance, and in fantasy football drafts, cost is expressed as a player's average draft position (ADP). We'll use our in-house numberFire projections to set performance expectations.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Gore is currently being drafted as the 33rd running back in standard scoring leagues, and the 35th RB in point per reception (PPR) leagues. Over the past five seasons, the RB33 in standard leagues has averaged 105.3 fantasy points, and the 35th RB in PPR leagues has averaged 136.3 points. Our projections give Gore 103.2 points and 174.2 points in standard and PPR formats, respectively, which can also be seen in the table below.
|Format||ADP||Expected Points||numberFire Projected Points|
Gore's ADP makes him a fair value in standard leagues and a bargain in PPR leagues, according to our projections. Now, let's explore how realistic these projections are.
The concern most people have about Gore isn't what kind of running back he has been -- it's what kind of running back he'll currently be at his age. We've all heard that Father Time is undefeated, and at a grueling position like running back, it's typical to expect production to decline as a player ages.
Let's go under the hood and compare Gore's actual production from last year to our projected production for 2017.
|Year||Ru Att||Ru Yds||Ru TDs||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec TDs|
As you can see, we've already projected a sizable decline in production, and Gore still comes out as a value at his ADP. Let's not stop there, though -- let's use some of our advanced metrics to analyze Gore's career trajectory: Rushing and Receiving Net Expected Points (NEP), along with Success Rate.
NEP is a metric that describes the positive or negative contribution a player makes to their team’s chances of scoring, while Success Rate describes the number of plays that produced positive NEP. For more info on NEP, check out our glossary.
The below table shows how Gore's production in these advanced metrics have changed over the years compared to what he accomplished in 2016.
|Year||Rushes||Rushing NEP per Attempt||Success Rate||Rec||Reception NEP per Target||Reception Success Rate|
|2005 - 2015||245.7||-0.04||40.2%||34.2||0.31||63.7%|
|2011 - 2015||266.6||-0.05||40.5%||21.2||0.27||60.4%|
|2013 - 2015||263.3||-0.08||39.4%||20.3||0.28||56.5%|
His Rushing NEP per attempt and Receiving NEP per target were both slightly better than the prior career periods listed above, as were each of his Success Rates. While we can probably expect some regression moving forward (which is already accounted for in our projections), there's no evidence here that Gore's production is significantly slowing down. His performance in terms of volume and efficiency remains consistent, if not flat-out impressive.
Looking ahead toward competition on his own roster, there aren't many real threats at running back.
If last season was any indication, Gore will see considerably more touches than backup Robert Turbin, and while we like Marlon Mack, don't expect him to unseat the vet this season. Andrew Luck's shoulder injury might mean some more rushing early in the season, too, although the quarterback could return sooner than expected.
Gore is competing against age, but we haven't found any evidence of a massive age-related decline. Despite already discounted Gore's rushing production by about 27 percent, he's still a good value at his current ADP, so you should feel confident in drafting him in the mid to late rounds.