Andre Williams Might Be the Worst Running Back in Our Database

Andre Williams has struggled for the Giants since entering the league. And his numbers are actually historically bad.

For some reason, the Giants can't quit him.

"I look forward to Andre bouncing back this year and having a bounce-back year."

That was from Ben McAdoo, the New York Giants' new head coach. And the Andre he was referring to is Andre Williams, the hasn't-been-good-for-two-seasons New York Giants running back.

You remember Tim Riggins from the show Friday Night Lights? And how he used to bulldoze and dominate high school lineman and linebackers on the football field using his big body? 

That's like Andre Williams, except the opposite.

Through two years, Williams has used his big 6'0'', 230-pound frame on the football field to produce a 3.2 yards per carry average. He's caught 19 passes on 40 targets. 

He's been, in truth, one of the worst running backs in the NFL.

And he might be one of the worst running backs our database has ever seen.

Andre the Giant Bust

If you're newer to numberFire, then you might not be familiar with our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. In essence, NEP measures the number of points -- real points, not fantasy points -- a player contributes for his team based on how he's expected to perform. For instance, most analysis will view all10-yard gains the exact same way: as 10 yards. But, really, we know that a 10-yard gain on 3rd-and-9 is much more impactful than a 10-yard gain on 3rd-and-15, right? One results in a first down, which extends a team's drive and increases their expected point value on said drive, while the other results in (more than likely) a field goal or punt.

You can read more about Net Expected Points in our  glossary.

Because rushing is inherently less effective than passing, NEP numbers at running back are lower than at quarterback or wide receiver. This makes sense intuitively -- running backs are constantly grinding out 3 or 4 yard runs (those are more like 1 or 2 yard runs for Andre Williams), while wide receivers are generally tallying 10 or more yards on a catch. It's easy for them to extend drives, as long as the pass is caught.

Last year, the average Rushing NEP per rush rate, then, wasn't zero. You might expect zero to be expectation, but expectation is different for a running back. The average rate was actually -0.01, which was higher than 2014, where it was -0.02.

Andre Williams' Rushing NEP per rush was -0.23. In other words, he was 23 times less efficient than the average running back in 2015, effectively losing nearly a quarter of a point with every rush.

Among the 72 running backs with 50 or more carries last year, that was third-worst.

Yet, what's so interesting with Williams isn't even his points added per rush or his mediocre 2.9 yards per carry average. It's his Success Rate, or the percentage of positive runs, per NEP, made by a running back.

Last season, Williams finished with a Success Rate of 27.27% -- more than 70% of his rushes were failures. Now, we do see sub-50% Success Rates very often for running backs. As I said, rushing is less impactful than throwing. But Williams' rate was actually worst among all running backs in 2015.

That's amazingly terrible when you consider he's one of the bigger backs in the NFL. It'd be one thing to have a low Rushing NEP per rush rate with a high-ish Success Rate -- that at least tells us a running back had poor efficiency more than likely because he didn't see big plays, like Arian Foster last season (second-worst Rushing NEP per rush, very average Success Rate). 

But Williams couldn't even fall over and make a positive play consistently. Instead, he was the worst. The absolute worst.

Historical Comparisons

Comparing Williams to just 2015 running backs doesn't do this justice, though. 

Our database compares seasons of players to one another and dates back to 2000. Over these 16 seasons, we've seen 168 running backs reach the 300-carry mark. Among these backs, Andre Williams' efficiency -- a career -0.13 Rushing NEP per rush average -- ranks ninth worst.

Name Rushing NEP Per Rush Rank
Jonathan Wells -63.62 -0.17 168th
James Jackson -50.29 -0.15 167th
Jamal Anderson -51.20 -0.15 166th
William Green -82.68 -0.15 165th
Marcel Shipp -87.26 -0.14 164th
Bernard Pierce -51.65 -0.14 163rd
Aaron Stecker -54.86 -0.14 162nd
James Allen -74.82 -0.13 161st
Andre Williams -38.03 -0.13 160th
Jamel White -47.84 -0.12 159th

I'm sure some of these names either bring back fantasy football nightmares, or they're names you've never even heard of.

Here's a look -- and it's even worse -- at the bottom five running backs in Success Rate since 2000. 

Name Rushing NEP Success Rate Rank
James Jackson -50.29 33.85% 168th
Andre Williams -38.03 33.88% 167th
Nick Goings -49.72 34.25% 166th
Bernard Pierce -51.65 34.72% 165th
Jonathan Wells -63.62 35.29% 164th

So, since the turn of the century -- back when Kerry Collins was leading the Giants to the Super Bowl -- Andre Williams has ranked, pretty clearly, as one of the worst rushers in all of football.

You want to know what's crazy, though? We haven't even talked about receiving yet!

On Williams' 40 targets, he has a Reception NEP per target -- or the rate of adding points per look -- of 0.17. To give you some context, the league average within this metric at the running back position last year was 0.36. 

Once again, Williams is completely inefficient.

If you notice, the four players who make both lists above are Jonathan Wells, Bernard Pierce, James Jackson, and Andre Williams.

Only Bernard Pierce, among this group of five guys, had a worse career Reception NEP per target than Andre Williams.


Williams' Future

You may read this and think that I'm trashing a running back's performance just for the sake of trashing it. That's not the case, though.

We've got coaches -- head coaches -- who are continuing to stick by a running back who, for all intents and purposes, has been one of the worst the NFL has seen over the last decade and a half.

Can Andre Williams turn things around? Sure, anything is possible, I guess. I could become a good piano player, after never playing it in my life, if I work hard enough at it.

Is it likely? Not at all.