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For more from Chase and Jason, check out their work at Football Perspective and The Big Lead.

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.