The Most Reliable Fantasy Football Running Backs Over the Last 5 Years

Which running backs over the last five years have given fantasy owners the most week-to-week joy?

While compiling data and researching for my recent piece on profiling elite fantasy football running backs, I came across some interesting numbers regarding weekly consistency in fantasy football. You see, I'm a big fan of weekly data -- cumulative numbers can be skewed, and they often don't tell us the entire story about a player's season. If, say, a player scored 100 fantasy points and 99 of them came during three weeks, was that player reliable? Not necessarily.

One way to look at weekly consistency is through what I call "usable weeks", or weeks where a running back (or another position, but we're only talking backs here) finished in the top 24 in scoring (PPR in this case). If you're in a 12-team league, the hope is that your running backs end a week with at least an RB2 score -- at least 24 running backs are being started.

So which running backs, over the last five years, have compiled the most weekly top-24 PPR performances? Take a look.

PlayerTop-24 Performances
LeSean McCoy60
Matt Forte57
Arian Foster55
Marshawn Lynch49
Jamaal Charles45
Steven Jackson43
Ray Rice42
Frank Gore42
Adrian Peterson41
Fred Jackson38
DeMarco Murray38
Ahmad Bradshaw37
Darren Sproles37
Maurice Jones-Drew36
Chris Johnson36
Reggie Bush33
Ryan Mathews32
Darren McFadden31
Pierre Thomas30
Alfred Morris27
Knowshon Moreno26
Michael Turner26
Le'Veon Bell26
BenJarvus Green-Ellis25
Joique Bell24
Danny Woodhead23
CJ Spiller22
Eddie Lacy22
Peyton Hillis21
Rashard Mendenhall21
Donald Brown20
Jonathan Stewart20

There's a lot to analyze here, but here are a few things that I found interesting:

- LeSean McCoy has the most usable performances over the last five years, averaging 12 per season. Not only does that show off his durability, but having 12 usable weeks in a season will generally place you in elite company in fantasy football. Because he's coming off a season where he didn't fulfill his tremendously high expectations, he could be a bargain next year.

- When Arian Foster has been healthy, he's been the best fantasy running back over this time span. McCoy's been great, but in terms of usable week rate (usable weeks divided by the number of weeks played), Foster's 83.3% is a couple of percentage points higher than Shady's.

- Fred Jackson gets no love. He ranks 10th in usable weeks since 2010, but since that year, he's been the 45th, 30th, 16th, 44th and 38th running back off fantasy draft boards according to's average draft position data.

- Jamaal Charles is a monster, but he's not as reliable as McCoy and Foster. Charles is fifth in usable weeks, despite missing nearly the entire 2011 season. He's got a usable week rate of 70.3%, which, again, is over 10 percentage points lower than what McCoy and Foster have compiled.

- Alfred Morris has been really consistent through his first three seasons, and will probably have a fair price tag again during August fantasy drafts. During his breakout rookie season, Morris finished with 10 usable weeks, and he's had 9 and 8 over the last two seasons, respectively.

- Le'Veon Bell already has 26 usable weeks through two seasons, despite missing time to start his rookie year. In 2014, Bell's 15 top-24 performances were the most we've seen by a single running back over the last five years.