A couple months ago in an edition of Mind of Miller, I ranked Leonard Fournette as my RB4 in the 2017 rookie class. I’ve since backed off that rather warm take, but when I made it, I had good reason. Both here and on the Twitter machine, I spoke about the counting stat output needed to be an RB1. Using Marshawn Lynch as an example, I showed a 300 carry, 1,400 yard, 12 touchdown, 30 reception back is a top-five runner, but not somebody who belongs in the same breath and David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell.
After the abuse I took for what I thought was a well-made point, I decided I should take a deeper dive into what a high-end running back looks like. Using rushing volume, touchdowns and receptions to paint a picture of RB1s, RB2s, and more, I feel like I have a much greater understanding of what it takes for a player to reach a given level of production. After reading this, you will too.
I conducted my research using the last five years of data from the 50 highest scoring running backs in each season. Unless otherwise stated, every stat I am about to give came from the specific time frame of 2012 to 2016. Using somewhat arbitrary, yet relevant cutoffs, I’ve broken down our subjects into three tiers.
Jeff can be found on Twitter at @FFJeffM
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