Carlos Hyde: Fantasy Football Stock on the Rise
For 10 years, Frank Gore was the face of the San Francisco backfield. With his tough, gritty style of running, Gore helped establish a hard-nose mentality in San Francisco.
With a new regime established in San Francisco, Gore wasn't retained, and the future is now for second-year runner Carlos Hyde.
Aside from Gore's departure, Jim Harbaugh is now in Michigan and reports indicate that veteran defensive staples Patrick Willis and Justin Smith are retiring. Suddenly, the San Francisco 49ers have an identity crisis.
One player that can keep the 49ers afloat as a contender in the NFC West is Hyde, who has a prime opportunity to take the starting job in San Francisco. And fantasy owners who invested in him in keeper and dynasty leagues last year could not be more excited.
Hyde vs. Gore
The initial thought would be that Carlos Hyde has some big shoes to fill. Frank Gore is far and away the 49ers all-time leading rusher, averaging over 1,100 yards across his 10 seasons with the team. But how good has Gore really been lately?
Looking at the metrics, the decision to move on from Gore shouldn't be all that surprising, considering his recent Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) totals. Rushing NEP indicates how many points above or below expectation a player nets his team based on his cumulative carries. You can read more about Net Expected points in our glossary.
NEP factors in game variables (like down and distance) to differentiate between plays that would otherwise appear identical in game logs. For example, a one-yard carry netting a first down inside the red zone adds expected points to a team. A one-yard carry on third-and-nine that results in a punt doesn't.
Gore's Rushing NEP has fallen off the map since the 49ers 2012 Super Bowl run. In 2013, Gore's Rushing NEP was a meager -17.29, down from 12.00 in 2012. Last year, it was nearly as poor, at -14.84. Among 200-plus attempt rushers in 2013 -- 22 of them -- Gore ranked 18th within the metric. Last year, he ranked 15th of 17.
Our own Brandon Gdula highlights more information and relevant metrics on Gore in his most recent article on Gore.
Hyde wasn't incredibly strong last season, as his per rush NEP sat below Gore's. But what's a little more telling -- considering Hyde didn't have nearly as many carries, his rate fluctuated more with each play -- was his 44.58% Success Rate, which was more than two percentage points higher than Gore's. Success Rate measures the percentage of rushes that contribute positively towards a player's NEP -- it's a binary metric that shows us how often a player is successful.
The Big Picture
Looking at the team data for the 49ers, some bigger issues come into focus. During their Super Bowl run in 2012, the 49ers were dominant in the run game. Their 58.50 Rushing NEP score was second in the NFL, behind only the RGII-led Redskins.
Since then, the performance has spiraled downward quickly, as reflected in Gore's metrics.
In 2013, they fell to 19th in schedule-adjusted Rushing NEP, and in 2014, they fell to 21st. Was it Gore's decline? Was it Kaepernick's poor play? The offensive line?
The entire offensive unit needs to shoulder some of the blame, but the recent downward trend should be the biggest concern for Hyde's fantasy value. Losing an effective run blocker like guard Mike Iupati won't help matters, either.
But nonetheless, the opportunity is there for Hyde to produce, and opportunity is a huge part of fantasy football. His stock, regardless of the players around him, is clearly rising.