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Pro Football Reference Blog

Barry Sanders and Lee Bouggess

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 16, 2007

While Doug was writing about Jimmy Smith a year ago, he used the following stat:

One of my favorite arbitrary-but-interesting stats is Yards Over 1000. We compute it simply by starting to count the yards only after they reach the 1000 mark.

I was wondering how last year's RBs would look under a made-up stat called "Yards Over 3.0." That's derived by subtracting 3.00 from a player's yards per carry average, and then multiplying the difference by his number of carries. This strikes a balance of rewarding players with high YPC averages but a low number of carries, while also letting compilers keep adding to their "YO3.0" as long as they're gaining over three yards per carry. Here's how last year's top 35 RBs look:

2006 RBs

```player			team	rsh	yd	ypc	YO3.0
LaDainian Tomlinson	sdg	348	1815	5.22	771
Frank Gore		sfo	312	1695	5.43	759
Tiki Barber		nyg	327	1662	5.08	681
Larry Johnson		kan	416	1789	4.30	541
Brian Westbrook		phi	240	1217	5.07	497
Steven Jackson		ram	346	1528	4.42	490
Willie Parker		pit	337	1494	4.43	483
Fred Taylor		jax	231	1146	4.96	453
Maurice Jones-Drew	jax	166	 941	5.67	443
Ladell Betts		was	245	1154	4.71	419
Joseph Addai		clt	226	1081	4.78	403
Travis Henry		ten	270	1211	4.49	401
Jerious Norwood		atl	 99	 633	6.39	336
Tatum Bell		den	233	1025	4.40	326
Deuce McAllister	nor	244	1057	4.33	325
Thomas Jones		chi	296	1210	4.09	322
Chester Taylor		min	303	1216	4.01	307
Rudi Johnson		cin	341	1309	3.84	286
Ronnie Brown		mia	241	1008	4.18	285
Julius Jones		dal	267	1084	4.06	283
Warrick Dunn		atl	286	1140	3.99	282
Michael Turner		sdg	 80	 502	6.28	262
Ahman Green		gnb	266	1059	3.98	261
Marion Barber III	dal	135	 654	4.84	249
Laurence Maroney	nwe	175	 745	4.26	220
DeShaun Foster		car	227	 897	3.95	216
Corey Dillon		nwe	199	 812	4.08	215
Willis McGahee		buf	259	 990	3.82	213
Mike Bell		den	157	 677	4.31	206
Leon Washington		nyj	151	 650	4.30	197
Jamal Lewis		rav	314	1132	3.61	190
Cedric Benson		chi	157	 647	4.12	176
Ron Dayne		htx	151	 612	4.05	159
Edgerrin James		crd	337	1159	3.44	148
```

Because running backs are often running in different down and distances and at different points in the game, it's not always fair to make such comparisons. Was Jerious Norwood's season really the 13th best in the league? Would the Falcons have rather had him than Dunn last year? I'm not sure, but I think it's probably easier to find a guy that will run 286 times at 4.0 yards per clip than 99 times at 6.4 yards per carry.

Was Michael Turner about equal to Ahman Green last year? Turner averaged 6.28 yards per carry and Green averaged 3.98. Certainly, you'd prefer Turner to Green if he had only a few less carries. Conversely, you'd clearly prefer Green to Turner if Turner had less than twenty carries on the season. The question is, at what number of carries do your preferences intersect? Is it 186 carries as this formula tells us? That sounds like a lot, but consider this: Turner (or another RB) would have needed to rush for 557 yards on 186 carries, which isn't too tough to find in the NFL. That's why I like having the replacement value of a carry being 3.00; it still rewards compilers, but guys that make big plays can rocket up the chart.

In case you were wondering, two Jets RBs -- Derrick Blaylock (-31) and Kevan Barlow (-23) -- join J.J. Arrington (-23) at the bottom of this list.

How does LT's monster season stack up against some of the all-time greats?

Best 60 RB seasons of all-time

```player			year	team	rsh	yd	ypc	YO3.0
Barry Sanders		1997	det	335	2053	6.13	1048
O.J. Simpson		1973	buf	332	2003	6.03	1007
Jim Brown		1963	cle	291	1863	6.40	990
Eric Dickerson		1984	ram	379	2105	5.55	968
Jamal Lewis		2003	rav	387	2066	5.34	905
Barry Sanders		1994	det	331	1883	5.69	890
Walter Payton		1977	chi	339	1852	5.46	835
Terrell Davis		1998	den	392	2008	5.12	832
O.J. Simpson		1975	buf	329	1817	5.52	830
Ahman Green		2003	gnb	355	1883	5.30	818
Earl Campbell		1980	oti	373	1934	5.18	815
Tiki Barber		2005	nyg	357	1860	5.21	789
LaDainian Tomlinson	2006	sdg	348	1815	5.22	771
Shaun Alexander		2005	sea	370	1880	5.08	770
Frank Gore		2006	sfo	312	1695	5.43	759
Jim Brown		1958	cle	257	1527	5.94	756
Larry Johnson		2005	kan	336	1750	5.21	742
Clinton Portis		2003	den	290	1591	5.49	721
LaDainian Tomlinson	2003	sdg	313	1645	5.26	706
Ricky Williams		2002	mia	383	1853	4.84	704
Clinton Portis		2002	den	273	1508	5.52	689
Tiki Barber		2006	nyg	327	1662	5.08	681
Jim Brown		1965	cle	289	1544	5.34	677
Priest Holmes		2002	kan	313	1615	5.16	676
Jim Taylor		1962	gnb	272	1474	5.42	658
Terrell Davis		1997	den	369	1750	4.74	643
Emmitt Smith		1995	dal	377	1773	4.70	642
Garrison Hearst		1998	sfo	310	1570	5.06	640
Eric Dickerson		1983	ram	390	1808	4.64	638
Shaun Alexander		2004	sea	353	1696	4.80	637
Emmitt Smith		1993	dal	283	1486	5.25	637
Robert Smith		2000	min	295	1521	5.16	636
O.J. Simpson		1976	buf	290	1503	5.18	633
Barry Sanders		1996	det	307	1553	5.06	632
Barry Sanders		1989	det	280	1470	5.25	630
Marshall Faulk		1999	ram	253	1381	5.46	622
Tony Dorsett		1981	dal	342	1646	4.81	620
Marcus Allen		1985	rai	380	1759	4.63	619
Otis Armstrong		1974	den	263	1407	5.35	618
Jamal Anderson		1998	atl	410	1846	4.50	616
Ottis Anderson		1979	crd	331	1605	4.85	612
Jim Brown		1960	cle	215	1257	5.85	612
Eric Dickerson		1986	ram	404	1821	4.51	609
Jim Brown		1964	cle	280	1446	5.16	606
Marshall Faulk		2001	ram	260	1382	5.32	602
Corey Dillon		2004	nwe	345	1635	4.74	600
Marshall Faulk		2000	ram	253	1359	5.37	600
Mike Anderson		2000	den	297	1487	5.01	596
Emmitt Smith		1992	dal	373	1713	4.59	594
Earl Campbell		1979	oti	368	1697	4.61	593
Deuce McAllister	2003	nor	351	1641	4.68	588
Curtis Martin		2004	nyj	371	1697	4.57	584
Walter Payton		1985	chi	324	1551	4.79	579
Jim Taylor		1961	gnb	243	1307	5.38	578
James Brooks		1989	cin	221	1239	5.61	576
Warrick Dunn		2005	atl	280	1416	5.06	576
William Andrews		1983	atl	331	1567	4.73	574
Priest Holmes		2001	kan	327	1555	4.76	574
Roger Craig		1988	sfo	310	1502	4.85	572
```

With almost any study you do, it's hard to avoid having Barry's 1997, O.J.'s 1973, or Jim Brown's 1963 pop up at the top of the list. They remain the only three to ever average over 6.00 yards per carry in a season with at least 150 carries. Mercury Morris ranks 4th in carries by a RB with a 6.00+ YPC average, when he rushed 149 times for 954 yards (6.40 YPC) in 1973. Morris and Simpson might have had something to do with the Patriots awful run defense that year.

What about from the other side? What RBs kept getting carries but not much else? Look at Jack Holmes, second on the list. He's got more than double the number of carries of any RB to average 0.50 or fewer yards per carry in a season (Jim Stinnette, not shown below).

Worst 20 RB seasons of all time

```
player			year	team	rsh	yd	ypc	YO3.0
Eddie Price		1953	nyg	101	206	2.04	-97
Jack Holmes		1980	nor	 38	 19	0.50	-95
Abner Haynes		1966	den	129	304	2.36	-83
Lee Bouggess		1970	phi	159	401	2.52	-76
Ron Johnson		1974	nyg	 97	218	2.25	-73
Don Allen		1960	den	 30	 18	0.60	-72
Odell Lawson		1970	nwe	 56	 99	1.77	-69
Dub Jones		1953	cle	 31	 28	0.90	-65
Larry Schreiber		1975	sfo	134	337	2.51	-65
Robert Holcombe		1998	ram	 98	230	2.35	-64
Dick Christy		1961	nyj	 81	180	2.22	-63
Jonathan Wells		2002	htx	197	529	2.69	-62
Louis Carter		1977	tam	 59	117	1.98	-60
Larry Brown		1974	was	163	430	2.64	-59
Natrone Means		1999	sdg	112	277	2.47	-59
Donnell Bennett		2000	kan	 27	 24	0.89	-57
Tony Collins		1986	nwe	156	412	2.64	-56
Harold Green		1993	cin	215	589	2.74	-56
Benny Malone		1979	was	176	472	2.68	-56
Tom Moore		1967	atl	 53	104	1.96	-55
```

How about a career list? I think you know who's going to top this one.

Best 30 RBs of all time

```
player			rsh	yards	YPC	YO3.0
Barry Sanders		3062	15269	4.99	6083
Jim Brown		2359	12312	5.22	5235
Walter Payton		3838	16726	4.36	5212
Emmitt Smith		4409	18355	4.16	5128
Eric Dickerson		2996	13259	4.43	4271
O.J. Simpson		2404	11236	4.67	4024
Tony Dorsett		2936	12739	4.34	3931
Tiki Barber		2216	10448	4.71	3800
Marshall Faulk		2836	12279	4.33	3771
Curtis Martin		3518	14101	4.01	3547
Thurman Thomas		2877	12074	4.20	3443
Corey Dillon		2618	11241	4.29	3387
Fred Taylor		2062	9513	4.61	3327
Franco Harris		2949	12120	4.11	3273
Jerome Bettis		3479	13662	3.93	3225
Marcus Allen		3022	12243	4.05	3177
Joe Perry		1737	8378	4.82	3167
LaDainian Tomlinson	2050	9176	4.48	3026
James Brooks		1685	7962	4.73	2907
Ahman Green		1871	8491	4.54	2878
Earl Campbell		2187	9407	4.30	2846
Priest Holmes		1734	8035	4.63	2833
Edgerrin James		2525	10385	4.11	2810
Shaun Alexander		1969	8713	4.43	2806
Ricky Watters		2622	10643	4.06	2777
Jim Taylor		1941	8597	4.43	2774
Warrick Dunn		2256	9461	4.19	2693
Freeman McNeil		1798	8074	4.49	2680
Terrell Davis		1655	7607	4.60	2642
John Riggins		2916	11352	3.89	2604
```

I'm surprised to see Tiki Barber and Curtis Martin so high on this list. I figured Barber didn't have enough carries, and Martin didn't have a high enough YPC average. But seeing them both crack the top ten makes me confident that this list doesn't penalize the workhorses too much, or prevent great players with shorter careers from ranking highly.

And, of course, let's end it with the co-star of today's title:

Worst 15 RBs of all time

```
player			rsh	yards	YPC	YO3.0
Lee Bouggess		271	697	2.57	-116
Odell Lawson		 70	130	1.86	 -80
Don Allen		 30	 18	0.60	 -72
Willie Spencer		104	247	2.38	 -65
Tony Jordan		144	371	2.58	 -61
Jack Holmes		117	293	2.50	 -58
Gary McDermott		 54	108	2.00	 -54
Jim Tiller		 31	 43	1.39	 -50
Tom Smiley		120	312	2.60	 -48
Harry Jones		 44	 85	1.93	 -47
Walt Kowalczyk		103	264	2.56	 -45
Fred Bukaty		 76	187	2.46	 -41
Reggie Evans		 16	 11	0.69	 -37
Travis Prentice		187	525	2.81	 -36
Sam Gash		121	327	2.70	 -36
```

All I can say is that Lee Bouggess sure must have been a pretty good receiver, blocker and teammate to stick around for three years.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2007 at 12:44 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.