Quarter Season Stat Check: Running Backs


September 23, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) breaks the tackle of New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung (25) at M

All Week I will be taking a look at the Statistical and on field trends over the first quarter of the season. Today lets take a look at the leagues best running backs.

Total Yardage

As of right now, just one RB is on track for 2000 scrimmage yards, Jamaal Charles. That said, Charles has been helped tremendously by his 288 scrimmage yards against the Saints. Bringing up a close second, and being just 8.8 yards off 2000 yard pace, is Baltimore Raven Ray Rice. Rice Currently is averaging 122.8 yards/game. It would be a surprise if Rice weren’t able to rack up 2000 yards this season seeing as he has broken that mark in two of the past three seasons, only failing to do so when hampered by injury in 2010.

1. Jamaal Charles                           512(128 per/game)

2. Ray Rice                                         491(122.8 p/g)

3. Marshawn Lynch                       472(118 p/g)

4. C.J. Spillar                                    460(115 p/g)

5. LeSean McCoy                             440(110 p/g)

Rushing Yardage

There isn’t a single RB in the NFL right now who is head and shoulders above the competition. The Yardage leader has changed three weeks in a row. Right now the current leader is Marshawn Lynch who has racked up 423 yards on the ground. Jamaal Charles is just 8 yards behind(415) but much of his yardage can be attributes to his 233 yard outing against the leagues worst run defense in the New Orleans Saints. Two weeks ago your leader was C.J. Spillar who had two monster outings the first two weeks but he has been slowed down considerably by a couple of injuries and has fallen all the way to 8th.

1. Marshawn Lynch            423(92 carries)

2. Jamaal Charles                415(72)

3. LeSean McCoy                  384(81)

4. Arian Foster                      380(103)

5. Alfred Morris                     376(82)

13. Ray Rice                         317(64)

Receiving Yardage

Darren Sproles is the receiving yardage king so far this season racking up an impressive 207 yards on 23 receptions. Second place is a pretty big surprise Joique Bell of the Detroit Lions, I quickly skimmed a series of Lions games and never once saw him catch a ball when lined up as a runningback and saw he has never had more than 6 carries in a game. This is a analysis of runningbacks and Bell seems to be a gadget player and a special teamer so I am eliminating him because he is only averaging about 4 yards and 4 touches per game. That takes us to our real number 2, Ray Rice. Rice has been no slouch with 174 receiving yards on 22 receptions. This, like Sproles numbers, is particularly impressive because they both play in wide open offenses. Both the Saints and Ravens have averaged better than 7 receivers with a catch per game. when that many players get involved, it makes it tougher for RBs to get touches.

1. Darren Sproles                       207(23 receptions)

2. Ray Rice                                   174(22)

3. Trent Richardson                  122(15)

4. C.J. Spillar                              119(9)

5. DeMarco Murray                   114(16)


Some Running Backs have huge numbers thanks to a huge number of touches. For example, Arian Foster has 380 yards, but he has taken a whopping 103 carries in 4 games to get there. Foster also has 9 receptions which gives him a total of 112 touches or 28 touches per game .That is on pace for an absurd 448 touches this season, as a general rule you do not want your running back touching the ball more than 370 times as backs who do so are susceptible to a big time decline in the future thanks to wear and tear from such a large work load. The most confusing part of Fosters situation is that Ben Tate is a very good RB in his own right, yet the Texans have only given him 34 touches(8.5 per game). The Texans are blowing teams out, Tate should be running the ball at the end of games to give Foster a break. For any Ravens fans complaining that Rice isn’t getting enough touches, he is right up with the top of the pack with over 21 touches per game. He is currently on pace for 344 touches this season.

1. Arian Foster                                       112(28 touches per/game)

2. Marshawn Lynch                              99(24.75)

3. LeSean McCoy                                    95(23.75)

4. Adrian Peterson                                 89(22.25)

5. BenJarvis Green-Ellis                      88(22)

6. Ray Rice                                             86(21.5)

Yards Per Touch(minimum of 50 touches)

It isn’t about the number of touches you get, it is about what you do with them. Yards per touch might be the most important RB stat of them all. right now C.J. Spillar is way way ahead of the pack with a jaw dropping 9.2 yards per touch(8.1 per carry)

1. C.J. Spillar                                   9.2 yards/touch

2. Jamaal Charles                          6.1

3. Reggie Bush                                5.72

4. Ray Rice                                       5.71

5. Michael Turner                          5.34


And at last we get to the negative stats. Fumbles are killers, plain and simple. The number one job of a Running back is to hold on to the ball. Some backs do this very well, Ray Rice, for example, went almost 2 years without a fumble and has fumbled just twice in the past 46 games dating back to 2009. Other Backs have a reputation as being fumble prone, Adrian Peterson fumbled 4, 9 and 7 times in his first three seasons respectively(in each 2008 and 2009 he fumbled more than Rice has his entire Career). Peterson has since cleaned up his fumbles, but has still never gone a full season without a fumble. BenJarvis Green-Ellis had never fumbled before this year, but he has fumbled 3 times in four games already this season.


1. Toby Gerhart                                 3(2 lost)

2. Benjarvis Green-Ellis                 3(2 lost)

3. LeSean McCoy                             3(2 lost)

4. 5 players tied with 2(both lost)- Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore, Shonn Green, Daniel Thomas, Ryan Williams

The Following players all start and have zero fumbles

Arian Foster

Alfred Morris

Ray Rice

Doug Martin

DeMarco Murray

Trent Richardson

Darren McFadden

Steven Jackson

Chris Johnson

DeAngelo Williams

Matt Forte

Donald Brown

Ahmad Bradshaw

Kevin Smith


Not much to this number, how many times have you gotten into the endzone.

1. Arian Foster  5

2. Alfred Morris                      4

2. Jackie Battle                       4

2. Trent Richardson              4

2. C.J. Spillar                          4

6. Ray Rice                               3


the four driving numbers to decide the rankings for me are total yards per game, yards per touch, touchdowns and fumbles. Only a handful of players were in the top 10 in all three positive categories and had less than 2 fumbles. Those players were Ray RiceC.J. Spillar, Marshawn Lynch and Micheal Turner. I am also going to add Arian Foster to this list because he leads all running backs in touchdowns and is high in overall yardage, if he had averaged .31 more yards per carry he would have made the list anyway. So here is my weighted top 5.

1. C.J. Spillar

2. Arian Foster

3. Ray Rice

4. Marshawn Lynch

5. Michael Turner

C.J. Spillar hasn’t played any good run defenses but even so, he was an unstoppable force before his injury so he is going to take my top spot. Foster hasn’t been very good in terms of yards per carry but in every other category he was extremely high and leading the league in scores has to count for something. Rice comes in 3rd thanks to his excellent yards per touch and receiving numbers and the fact that he has played 3 run defenses ranked in the top ten out of his four games. Rice also gets some credit because he is easily the best blocker on this list.  Lynch is up next, when he is on a role, or in Beast mode if you prefer, he is almost impossible to tackle. Turner makes the list because his blocking is better than it has been the past few years and his averages are pretty high as well.