Earlier this week, we went through aging for wide receivers and challenged some wisdom that said they peaked at 27 and fell off from there. Now, we’ll take the same look at running backs.
With several well-established star running backs getting up there in years, this topic has some special importance this season in fantasy. Whether it’s Indianapolis’ Frank Gore entering his age-33 season, or the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and new Jet Matt Forte entering their age-31 seasons, fantasy owners need to know what to expect. In short, the results are quite different from those of the wide receivers.
To qualify for this, a running back needed to be between the ages of 21 and 34 and have a minimum of 50 touches in a given season. By those parameters, 702 player-seasons were taken into consideration, dating back through 2007, the earliest year we have PFF data.
Limited upside for the older guys
When a running back reaches the age of 33, his upside is minimal. In the last nine seasons, there have been only 30 running backs who have taken the field at 33 or older, no matter the minimum number of carries. None finished inside the position’s top 24 that season. As a matter of fact, just two of them broke into the top 36 at their position. Considering Gore’s history of top-20 finishes, it’s tempting to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he would be defying odds if he remains a RB2 or better.