News & Analysis

Fantasy stat leaders across the last 2 seasons

Dec 24, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) before the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday, I looked at two-year composite fantasy football scoring and found that looking at point-scoring over a two-year span goes a long way toward eliminating the career year blip in our analysis. Correcting for players who don’t play both seasons, points per game over two years matches up with our expectations for the coming year to an impressive degree.

But that’s fantasy points. That’s examining the process by the outcome. So today, I’m looking at some of our PFF signature stats over the last two years to try to weed out the blips and discover the guys who have performed well over a longer range of time.

(I’m ignoring quarterbacks today, because while two years is a significant sample in the short careers of the skill players, and going longer than that will de facto incorporate aging and skill change, starting quarterback careers have a longer shelf life and warrant a look of longer than a couple years. We’ll get to quarterbacks down the road.)

Running backs

Rushing yards

RB rushing yards
2016 2017 Combined
1 Ezekiel Elliott 1631 Kareem Hunt 1327 Ezekiel Elliott 2614
2 Jordan Howard 1313 Todd Gurley 1305 Le'Veon Bell 2559
3 DeMarco Murray 1287 Le'Veon Bell 1291 Jordan Howard 2435
4 Jay Ajayi 1272 LeSean McCoy 1138 LeSean McCoy 2415
5 Le'Veon Bell 1268 Mark Ingram 1124 Todd Gurley 2190
  • To be as successful as Elliott has been while only totaling 70 targets over two seasons, you basically have to be running like crazy. That’s reflected in the fact that he has a 55-yard lead over second-place Bell despite missing six games to suspension in 2017 and sitting out the final game of 2016.
  • Bell, Howard, and McCoy are three of the only four backs (Mark Ingram is the other) to top 1,000 rushing yards each of the last two seasons.

Elusive rating

Elusive rating
2016 2017 Combined*
1 Jalen Richard 90.7 Alvin Kamara 108.5 Kenyan Drake 83.6
2 Kenneth Dixon 87.3 Kenyan Drake 96.3 Jay Ajayi 68.7
3 Jay Ajayi 76.0 Dion Lewis 73.2 Duke Johnson 68.6
4 Rob Kelley 61.5 Kareem Hunt 73.1 Theo Riddick 62.3
5 Jonathan Stewart 59.6 LeGarrette Blount 72.8 Dion Lewis 61.4

(*min. 100 total carries, at least 1 each season)

  • Drake — who had the majority of a full-time workload in 2017 after a handful of carries in 2016 — does well here, but it feels like cheating, with him carried by his impressive 2017. Unfortunately, there’s no real threshold that would exclude him that wouldn’t also weed out other good candidates. Still, Drake has looked good in what work he has gotten, even if the team appears determined to keep his overall workload limited.
  • Lewis is the owner of the best career elusive rating since 2006 — it’s actually almost 20 points higher than his 2016-2017 numbers.

Breakaway percentage

Breakaway percentage
2016 2017 Combined*
1 Isaiah Crowell 47.5 Tarik Cohen 50.3 Kenyan Drake 45.0
2 LeSean McCoy 44.5 Kenyan Drake 47.7 LeSean McCoy 40.6
3 Mike Gillislee 43.3 Marlon Mack 45.8 Tevin Coleman 40.1
4 Jalen Richard 40.9 Bilal Powell 45.1 Isaiah Crowell 38.2
5 Tevin Coleman 40.5 Alvin Kamara 41.5 Jalen Richard 37.5

(*min. 100 total carries, at least 1 each season)

  • Hey, there’s Drake again. If his 2017 is a sign of what’s to come, he could be impressive to watch.
  • A high breakaway percentage is a mixed bag — it can be a sign that a player is explosive, but it can also indicate a guy whose work is too dependent on a single play or two. You can determine which side Crowell is on and which side Richard is on, but I have my guess.

Wide receiver

Receiving yards

WR receiving yards
2016 2017 Combined
1 T.Y. Hilton 1448 Antonio Brown 1533 Julio Jones 2853
2 Julio Jones 1409 Julio Jones 1444 Antonio Brown 2817
3 Odell Beckham Jr. 1367 Keenan Allen 1393 T.Y. Hilton 2414
4 Mike Evans 1321 DeAndre Hopkins 1378 Michael Thomas 2382
5 Antonio Brown 1284 Adam Thielen 1276 DeAndre Hopkins 2332
  • Jones and Brown are both a solid third of a season ahead of the field here. If you subscribe to the “touchdowns are largely luck” belief, these two are pretty clearly the class of the league.
  • With Andrew Luck apparently throwing the ball again, Hilton’s stock is on the rise.

Yards per route run

Yards per route run — WR
2016 2017 Combined*
1 Julio Jones 3.12 Julio Jones 3.08 Julio Jones 3.10
2 A.J. Green 2.86 Antonio Brown 2.87 Keenan Allen 2.59
3 Taylor Gabriel 2.45 Keenan Allen 2.55 Antonio Brown 2.56
4 T.Y. Hilton 2.35 DeAndre Hopkins 2.39 A.J. Green 2.39
5 Tyreek Hill 2.30 Michael Thomas 2.39 Tyreek Hill 2.33

(*min. 100 total targets, at least 1 each season)

  • Next time somebody tells me Jones isn’t that good I’m just going to poke them.
  • Like Drake at running back, Allen is kind of cheating here, as the vast majority of his production came in 2017, with the addition of about half a game in 2016. Unlike Drake, we have more of an overall track record for Allen to believe that, while he might not be “second-best in the league” good, this is far more real than not.
  • Here’s where efficiency stats help. I picked on him a little in my Tuesday piece as well, but I’ll circle back on Tyrell Williams. He has 1,787 receiving yards the last two years. Hill has 1,776. Williams needed 1,088 routes to get his yardage; Hill 764.

Tight end

Receiving yards

TE receiving yards
2016 2017 Combined
1 Travis Kelce 1125 Rob Gronkowski 1084 Travis Kelce 2163
2 Greg Olsen 1073 Travis Kelce 1038 Rob Gronkowski 1624
3 Jimmy Graham 923 Zach Ertz 824 Delanie Walker 1607
4 Kyle Rudolph 840 Delanie Walker 807 Jimmy Graham 1443
5 Zach Ertz 816 Evan Engram 722 Kyle Rudolph 1372
  • Yes, Kelce has the benefit of not having missed the time Gronkowski missed in 2016, but health is a skill. Either way, only 13 tight ends even had as many yards as the lead Kelce has over second place.
  • If you want some optimism that Graham still has more than touchdown upside, it’s in the fact that he was No. 3 in tight end yardage only a year ago, and it was only 2017 where he was an end-zone weapon.

Yards per route run

Yards per route run — TE
2016 2017 Combined*
1 Rob Gronkowski 3.18 Rob Gronkowski 2.43 Rob Gronkowski 2.63
2 Ladarius Green 3.01 Hunter Henry 2.05 Travis Kelce 2.13
3 Travis Kelce 2.23 Travis Kelce 2.03 Hunter Henry 2.02
4 Greg Olsen 2.08 Zach Ertz 2.00 Delanie Walker 1.85
5 Vernon Davis 2.05 O.J. Howard 1.85 Greg Olsen 1.83

(*min. 75 targets, at least 1 each season)

  • When he’s 100 percent, the level to which Gronkowski is ahead of the field at tight end is still remarkable.
  • Henry seemed so primed for a true breakout season that we’re all going to mourn that ACL tear for a while (and I’m betting he’s already cemented a spot on my year-end what-if column).
  • Olsen’s YPRR of 2.08 in 2016 fell to 1.09 in 2017, though in limited time. His bounceback candidacy rests heavily on how much of that inefficiency was because of injury.
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