Fantasy Football: What happens the season after a running back gets 400 touches? | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections

There’s an idea in the fantasy football community that running backs are poised to crumble the season after handling a particularly large workload. Some have pointed to 370 carries as the threshold, but others say 400 touches is the point of no return for the position.


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Recent examples of Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry collapsing due to injuries after high-volume seasons have particularly added fuel to this fire. The lifespan of highly productive running backs is certainly shorter than other positionsso perhaps squeezing multiple years’ worth of usage into one single season accelerates the decline of running backs.

We’ll go ahead and roll with the 400-touch number because it truly is out of the ordinary. Workhorse running backs are less common than ever in the year 2021but even then there’s only been an average of 6.8 running backs clear 300 touches in the regular season since 2010.

Elevating the touch count to 400 will also cover the overwhelming majority of 370 rush attempt cases — differentiating carries from receptions seems rather arbitrary. We’ll also include the playoffs in each year’s total considering, you know, hits hurt the same — if not more — in January as they do in September.

PFF data stretches back to 2006, so we will, too. Going back further threatens to take us into a different time medically. It’s tough to put much stock into how a running back bounced back from a large workload in the 1980s after Cam Akers just returned from a freaking Achilles injury in half a year.

The following table denotes all 21 backs with 400 touches since 2006 along with their PPR fantasy rank, as well as their following season’s games, touches and PPR rank.

Year Yam Team touches PPR Rank Next-Year’s Games Next-Year’s Touches Next-Year’s PPR Rank
2020 Derrick Henry titans 418 3 9 257 23
2019 Derrick Henry titans 409 5 17 418 3
2019 Christian McCaffrey panthers 403 one 3 76 54
2018 Ezekiel Elliott cowboys 433 5 16 355 3
2017 Le’Veon Bell Steelers 431 two 0 (hold out) 0 N/A
2016 Le’Veon Bell Steelers 405 3 16 431 two
2014 DeMarco Murray cowboys 497 two fifteen 237 fifteen
2013 marshawn lynch Seahawks 403 5 19 385 4
2012 Arian Foster Texans 460 3 8 143 46
2012 Adrian Peterson vikings 411 one 14 308 10
2012 Ray Rice ravens 410 4 fifteen 272 22
2011 Ray Rice ravens 414 one twenty 410 4
2010 Rashard Mendenhall Steelers 412 eleven fifteen 246 22
2010 Ray Rice ravens 411 5 18 414 one
2009 Chris Johnson titans 407 one 16 360 7
2008 Michael Turner falcons 401 4 eleven 183 3. 4
2007 LaDainian Tomlinson chargers 410 two 17 349 5
2006 Larry Johnson chiefs 475 3 8 188 36
2006 Steve Jackson rams 435 two 12 274 fifteen
2006 LaDainian Tomlinson chargers 428 one 19 410 two
2006 Tiki Barber giants 413 6 0 (retired) 0 N/A

Some Key Takeaways

Just five of the 19 applicable running backs failed to play at least 14 games

This doesn’t mean each and every player was as productive the following year, but this 26% rate of anything resembling a major injury, alone, seems like enough to fade the idea of ​​a single-season workload cliff at the position.

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