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Going Deep

Regression Candidates: Big-Play Rushing Stats

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: May 8, 2020, 10:47 am ET

RushingYards

Most runs just end with a handful of yards and a cloud of dust. In fact, the most common result is a two-yard gain, which is followed by gains of three yards, one yard, four yards, and zero yards. Any NFL back can pick up the three yards that are in front of him, but who are the guys that have the juice to pick up chunk gains? In this column, I’ll be breaking down which players picked up gains of 10+ yards on the ground at the highest and lowest rates in the NFL last year. 

 

10+ Yard Rushing Percentage

I’m calling 10+ yard runs “Big Plays” in this column. Minimum 50 carries to qualify.

Rank

Player

Team

Big Plays

Big Play %

1

Lamar Jackson

BAL

43

27%

2

Kyler Murray

ARI

17

20%

3

Russell Wilson

SEA

11

19%

4

Deshaun Watson

HOU

12

17%

5

Gardner Minshew

JAX

9

16%

6

Josh Allen

BUF

14

15%

7

Kenyan Drake

ARI

17

14%

8

Jordan Wilkins

IND

7

14%

9

Chase Edmonds

ARI

8

14%

10

Devin Singletary

BUF

20

13%

11

Derrick Henry

TEN

40

13%

12

Raheem Mostert

SF

18

13%

13

Alexander Mattison

MIN

13

13%

14

Matt Breida

SF

16

13%

15

James Conner

PIT

15

13%

16

Duke Johnson

HOU

10

12%

17

Jordan Howard

PHI

14

12%

18

Nick Chubb

CLE

35

12%

19

Mark Walton

MIA

6

11%

20

Gus Edwards

BAL

15

11%

21

Alvin Kamara

NO

19

11%

22

LeSean McCoy

KC

11

11%

23

Rex Burkhead

NE

7

11%

24

Rashaad Penny

SEA

7

11%

25

Saquon Barkley

NYG

23

11%

26

Adrian Peterson

WAS

22

10%

27

Tony Pollard

DAL

9

10%

28

Ezekiel Elliott

DAL

31

10%

29

Brian Hill

ATL

8

10%

30

Aaron Jones

GB

24

10%

31

Marlon Mack

IND

25

10%

32

Ronald Jones

TB

17

10%

33

Chris Carson

SEA

27

10%

34

Joe Mixon

CIN

27

10%

35

Josh Jacobs

OAK

23

10%

36

Tevin Coleman

SF

13

10%

37

Christian McCaffrey

CAR

27

9%

38

Phillip Lindsay

DEN

21

9%

39

Giovani Bernard

CIN

5

9%

40

Leonard Fournette

JAX

25

9%

41

Carson Wentz

PHI

5

9%

42

Austin Ekeler

LAC

12

9%

43

Mark Ingram

BAL

18

9%

44

Malcolm Brown

LA

6

9%

45

Bilal Powell

NYJ

5

9%

46

Justice Hill

BAL

5

9%

47

Sony Michel

NE

21

9%

48

Boston Scott

PHI

5

8%

49

Dalvin Cook

MIN

21

8%

50

Royce Freeman

DEN

11

8%

51

Miles Sanders

PHI

15

8%

52

Latavius Murray

NO

12

8%

53

Patrick Laird

MIA

5

8%

54

Ty Johnson

DET

5

8%

55

Nyheim Hines

IND

4

8%

56

Todd Gurley

LA

17

8%

57

Devonta Freeman

ATL

14

8%

58

David Johnson

ARI

7

8%

59

Benny Snell

PIT

8

7%

60

Carlos Hyde

HOU

17

7%

61

Melvin Gordon

LAC

11

7%

62

Bo Scarbrough

DET

6

7%

63

Tarik Cohen

CHI

4

6%

64

Kerryon Johnson

DET

7

6%

65

Frank Gore

BUF

10

6%

66

James White

NE

4

6%

67

Jamaal Williams

GB

6

6%

68

Dion Lewis

TEN

3

6%

69

David Montgomery

CHI

13

5%

70

Peyton Barber

TB

8

5%

71

Le'Veon Bell

NYJ

11

4%

72

Damien Williams

KC

6

4%

73

Jaylen Samuels

PIT

2

3%

74

DeAndre Washington

OAK

3

3%

75

Kalen Ballage

MIA

0

0%

 

Lamar Jackson (27% big play percentage) absolutely lapped the rest of the NFL with explosive runs (43) and should be at or near the very top of the leaderboard in 2020. The Ravens' shotgun, outside run scheme plays to his strengths perfectly and will be a nightmare to defend for as long as our MVP is healthy.

Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Gardner Minshew (what?), and Josh Allen are No. 2-6 in 10+ yard run percentage, which is no surprise considering they are some of the top scramblers in the league, and QB scrambles are the most efficient “rushing” play. All five quarterbacks should continue to have high weekly floors and ceilings because of their legs.

Kenyan Drake led all running backs in big play rate (14%) while he was with the Cardinals in the second half of last season. He fits well in the Kliff Kingsbury air raid system, particularly as a runner with Kyler Murray posing a threat himself. Drake should regress some because he was so dang explosive last year, but he has top-six fantasy upside with Kliff Kingsbury. All he needs is a few more targets per game to lock into RB1 status.

Derrick Henry might be the best pure runner in the NFL (if we don’t include Lamar Jackson), and it’s not just because of his size and short-yardage ability. He cranked off a big play on 13% of his runs in his league-leading rushing season in 2019, a number that will almost assuredly negatively regress this upcoming season. While we can’t expect as many big plays, we can still bank on 15+ carries and all goal-line work, enough volume to keep Henry in the RB1/2 mix even in full-PPR leagues. I'm just not drafting him in the first round of fantasy drafts.

Ian Hartitz, if you are reading this… yes, I’m on team #GiveDukeJohnsonMoreCarries. He was a big-play threat as a runner (16th out of 75) last year, and we all know what he can do as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Bill O’Brien just needs to give him a chance. (It won’t happen.)

Dalvin Cook (49th out of 75) and Miles Sanders (51st) are two backs that are positive regression candidates in the big-play department. Cook was slowed by midseason injuries, but he should be fully healthy in 2020 and the Vikings just added quality depth in this recent draft. Sanders wasn’t hurt last year, but his teammates were and that made things difficult for the Eagles’ entire rushing offense. Expect both runners to be in the top half of the league in big-play percentage this fall.

Todd Gurley (56th out of 75), Devonta Freeman (57th), Melvin Gordon (61st), and Kerryon Johnson (64th) may have had too many injuries over the years to have above-average juice from this point forward. Of the four, Gurley has the easiest path to 200+ touches this season. Gordon and Johnson are rightfully in committee backfields. Freeman will likely battle for No. 2 duties somewhere.

I never thought David Montgomery (not so nice 69th out of 75) had the juice to begin with. Yes, he can break some tackles at the line of scrimmage, but it doesn’t matter if he can’t explode upfield. Only 13 of his 242 carries last season went for more than 10 yards. If he has a similar year in 2020, the Bears have to move on. 

Le’Veon Bell (71st out of 75) was brutal last season. On tape, I thought he looked close to normal, but the entire Jets Offense was a total joke in 2019, partially due to injuries, talent, and coach Adam Gase. Luckily for Bell, the Jets addressed the offensive line in free agency and in the NFL Draft -- hello, Mekhi Becton -- so he’s a positive regression candidate this upcoming season. Of course, there’s only one direction to go after only 11 of 245 carries went for 10+ yards.

 

Fantasy Football Content

1. 2019 Yards Per Carry Plus/Minus Rankings

2. 2019 Rushing Efficiency Rankings

3. 2019 Receiving Efficiency Rankings

4. 2019 Expected Rushing TD Rankings

5. 2019 Expected Receiving TD Rankings

6. 2019 Expected Yards After The Catch Rankings

7. 2019 Deep Target Efficiency Rankings

8. 2019 Expected Fantasy Points (WR)

9. 2019 Expected Fantasy Points (TE)

10. Reviewing Late-Season Production - QBs & TEs

11. Reviewing Late-Season Production - RBs & WRs

12. NFL Depth Charts - QB, RB, WR, TE

13. Free Agency Winners and Losers

14. Stop Running It Up The Middle