Scouting RBs in a Keeper League Tip #1 – The RB Mileage Meter

One of the most effective ways to scout for new running backs in a dynasty or keeper league is to monitor this chart from pro-football-reference.com.  The all-time rush attempts chart, or what I like to call the “RB Mileage Meter”, is the most accurate leading indicator for decline in production by running backs.

Physical ability and offensive line are also key indicators, but total rush attempts should be one of the first things you look for when scouting RBs in a keeper league format.

These are the current players among the top 200 all-time rush attempt leaders in the NFL:

All-time Rush Att Rank Player Yrs in NFL Att Yds TD G GS Y/A Y/G
7 Edgerrin James 10 3003 12180 80 145 135 4.06 84
15 LaDainian Tomlinson 8 2677 11830 127 129 127 4.42 91.7
20 Fred Taylor 11 2473 11472 64 144 136 4.64 79.7
21 Jamal Lewis 9 2424 10202 58 124 119 4.21 82.3
28 Clinton Portis 7 2124 9483 72 104 95 4.46 91.2
31 Thomas Jones 9 2010 8044 51 136 91 4 59.1
34 Ricky Williams 10 1973 8019 53 103 77 4.06 77.9
81 Willis McGahee 5 1369 5444 43 78 63 3.98 69.8
90 Larry Johnson 6 1315 5827 55 72 48 4.43 80.9
93 Steven Jackson 5 1307 5658 37 73 57 4.33 77.5
95 Brian Westbrook 7 1273 5837 36 101 78 4.59 57.8
102 Willie Parker 5 1207 5148 24 68 57 4.27 75.7
133 Julius Jones 5 1100 4433 21 72 61 4.03 61.6
162 Frank Gore 4 978 4682 25 62 46 4.79 75.5
170 Chester Taylor 7 953 4107 21 111 32 4.31 37
190 LaMont Jordan 8 889 3698 28 109 29 4.16 33.9
198 Ronnie Brown 4 853 3802 27 55 46 4.46 69.1

Source:  http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/cSUu2

Some of the guys in the chart will be great for another couple years, but it seems clear that around 2,200 career rush attempts (that’s 19 rushes/game for 7 years after all) is the maximum number to be a dynasty/keeper league viable RB.  It’s simple wear and tear.

Some greats like OJ Simpson (2,223) and Jim Brown (2,359) had fewer total rush attempts than current players Fred Taylor (out now), Jamal Lewis (ques.) and LaDanian Tomlinson.  The point is to trade off the information, so what do you do?

You can profit from the mileage meter in two ways (1) trade anyone you have with around 2,200 carries for whatever you can get, and (2) grab their backups.

Soon no one will want to trade for LaDanian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis or Thomas Jones so get rid of them now and take whatever you can get (I’m assuming you already can’t trade Jamal Lewis or Fred Taylor).

Next, keep an eye on San Diego to see whether they replace LDT thru the rookie draft in April.  If they pick an RB, he will be the top fantasy rookie prospect in 2010. Yes, Sproles and Bennett are there for 2009.  Shonn Greene and Leon Washington appear to be in line to take over a great situation in New York.  Jerome Harrison will probably get every opportunity to prove himself in 2009.  But, James Davis is back in 2010 and it’s Cleveland…. best to stay away.  Ladell Betts may finally get a featured role in Washington, but he’s never impressed in the past.  Snyder will be forced to find an RB by next season.

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