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Narrative Street: Fantasy running backs in their contract years

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off of the field after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Last week, Narrative Street examined whether wide receivers really play better in their contract years.

This week, we’ll explore whether that’s true for running backs.

The narrative: Players perform better during contract years because they are extra motivated.

As noted before: “The thought process is simple: The player is set for a big payday the following offseason, so they will play better during their contract year in order to maximize their worth on the open market.”

So is it true for running backs?

The research

As I did with wideouts, I took all relevant running backs who played during a contract year every season since 2010. This gave me a list of 39 seasons to study.

I examined each player’s performance before, during, and after their contract seasons is four key efficiency categories: Points Per Snap (PPS), Points Per Opportunity (PPO), Yards Per Carry (YPT), and Fantasy Points Per Game (PPG). (See full list below.)

PPS, PPO, and YPC give us the most importance efficiency metrics for running backs, while PPG gives us a look at raw output.


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