As established previously, the pass-catching positions have a high level of volatility. However, that is just one part of an offense. The next two episodes will delve into running back volatility.
Similar to the wide receiver position, there are typically two starting running backs on a fantasy football team. With that in mind, this episode will focus on how volatile the running back ones (RB1) are.
Although passing and rushing offenses are vastly different in the NFL, there is one stark similarity in fantasy football: volatility affects both.
Who were the top-12 running backs in fantasy football in 2022?
The top-12 fantasy football running backs in 2022 were: Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, Rhamondre Stevenson, Tony Pollard, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette, according to fantasy data. Similar to wide receivers and tight ends, there is running back volatility.
Each year, some top-end players do not return to the realm of RB1. However, there is a question that needs answering. Just how much running back volatility is there amongst the top-12 at the position?
While passing and rushing offenses are different, using the same method to extract data from previous years in fantasy football has painted good pictures for pass catchers heading into the 2023 campaign.
That said, we will look at the last 10 fantasy football seasons to extrapolate some expectations for 2022’s season’s top running backs.
Running back one volatility rates:
A couple of things can be taken away from these statistics immediately. The first is that the top six spots are players to draft in the following season. The second is essentially each top-six spot is a coin flip to return to the RB1 ranks next year.
There is plenty of volatility to go around at the running back position. At a 62.5% turnover rate, not everyone is safe. As a matter of fact, over each of the last 10 years of fantasy football, a minimum of half of the field was not an RB1 in the following season.
Who are the safest bets to return to RB1 glory in the 2023 fantasy football season?
By collecting the above data set it became evident that players in the bottom half of the RB1 spots were more susceptible to not return as an elite running back in the following season. However, no spot is particularly safe.
The safest picks this year, based on the statistics, are Ekeler and Barkley. These players finished in the top and fifth spots, respectively. Historically speaking, these are the spots with the least running back volatility, at a 40% rate of change. While these are not the most favorable odds, they are the best in terms of RB1 volatility.
The virtual coin flip bunch of RB1s:
The next group of players clock in at a true 50-50 or 60% rate of change, they are: McCaffrey, Jacobs, Henry, Chubb and Pollard. The first two men on this list have the same statistical chance of returning to the RB1 brass as calling a coin flip correctly.
Meanwhile, the latter three players have a 60% possibility to drop from the top running back ranks in 2023. While these are not the safest players, they do not have the worst odds to repeat as an RB1.
The most dangerous running backs to draft next season:
The players with the worst chance to have repeat RB1 seasons, according to the findings, are: Stevenson, Jones, Mixon, Cook and Fournette. Each of these players has a 70% turnover rate, at best, over the last 10 fantasy football seasons. To say these players are skating on thin ice would be appropriate.
There is no thinner ice than the one that Mixon is skating on. He statistically has a 90% chance to drop out of the RB1 ranks come this time next year.
Keeping up with the trend of a 50%, or higher, rate of change over the last 10 years, RB1s are a volatile bunch, much like tight end and wide receiver.
The data strikes again and paints another stunning picture. Running back volatility exists and can derail an entire season if you draft the wrong guy too early.