Efficiency Outliers 2020 – Four High and Low Efficiency Running Backs

by Corbin Young · Analytics & Advanced Metrics

We continue trucking along and analyzing a few more efficiency outliers from 2020, but this time it’s at the running back position. We saw a lot of running back turnover in both redraft and dynasty leagues. Part of the reason involved an influx of 2020 rookie running back talent in prime opportunities and situations. We’ve already touched on the 2020 rookie running backs, so we won’t focus on them in this look at the highest and lowest-efficiency RB outliers to note heading into 2021. Hopefully, some of the top 2021 rookie backs don’t muddy up too many of our favorite fantasy situations. 


High-Efficiency Outliers

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Part of this process involves finding bigger-name running backs and some intriguing players heading into 2021. Interestingly, Chris Carson resigned with the Seattle Seahawks for a two-year deal worth up to $14.6 million. At 26.5 years old, he should lead the backfield once again, especially since Carlos Hyde left for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team averaged 25.7 (No. 17) Team Run Plays Per Game with Carson sharing snaps and opportunities. He recorded a 57.9-percent (No. 20 among qualified running backs) Opportunity Share with 156.8 (No. 29) Weighted Opportunities. We expect those opportunities to increase in 2021 since Hyde left and Carson only played 12 games. However, he produced well with a 15.7 (No. 11) Fantasy Points per Game average on 681 (No. 25) Rushing Yards, 287 (No. 20) Receiving Yards, and nine (No. 16) Total Touchdowns due to his efficiency. 


Carson finished the 2020 season with a +30.3 (No. 2) Production Premium, 5.4 (No. 17) Yards Per Touch, and a 21.0-percent (No. 23) Dominator Rating. The +2.02 (No. 6) Game Script and 91.3 (No. 8) Run Blocking Efficiency also contributed to those high marks. As much as we love Rashaad Penny, he hasn’t received many opportunities or stayed healthy. Expect Carson to lead this backfield once again as a high-end RB2 in redraft leagues. On the Dynasty Deluxe Rankings, he ranks No. 104 overall in SuperFlex leagues near notable players like Mark Andrews, Odell Beckham, and Brandin Cooks. He’s a hold for competing dynasty teams, but feel free to shop him if you’re rebuilding. 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

As of now, Chase Edmonds holds down the Cardinals backfield with Kenyan Drake signing with the Raiders. Edmonds is the quintessential satellite back that earned a ton of targets and receiving production, yet barely earned many opportunities. He finished with a 37.6-percent (No. 48) Opportunity Share, 68 (No. 6) Targets, and 165.0 (No. 25) Weighted Opportunities. A reminder that Weighted Opportunities increases the value of targets, which suits a player like Edmonds. In 2020, he totaled a similar 448 (No. 43) Rushing Yards and 402 (No. 6) Receiving Yards with 53 (No. 7) Receptions. Edmonds finished as an RB3 with a 10.5 (No. 33) Fantasy Points per Game average; the receiving production kept him afloat. He ranked highly with a +16.4 (No. 12) Production Premium and  5.7 (No. 7) Yards Per Touch, yet only averaged 0.91 (No. 50) Yards Created Per Touch

The Cardinals likely bring in another running back via free agency or the NFL Draft to pair with him, unless they think Eno Benjamin should suffice as a backup, but that seems unlikely. As much as we’d like Edmonds to hold down a full-time role, his efficiency probably drops down given more touches and opportunities. Outside of James Robinson, Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Dalvin Cook, it’s hard to have high-opportunity running backs with high efficiency unless they’re Alvin Kamara, who earns a ton in the passing game. 

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Just what all of the A.J. Dillon fantasy managers wanted – Aaron Jones resigning with the Green Bay Packers! Jones signed a four-year deal worth $48 million that’s backloaded with about $1 million as a base salary in 2021 and 2022. This should be short since we know that Jones has an RB1 ceiling given his efficiency and explosiveness. He earned 62 (No. 9) Targets and 217.9 (No. 9) Weighted Opportunities with a 60.5-percent (No. 17) Opportunity Share. Jones exploded with 1,104 (No. 4) Rushing Yards, 347 (No. 13) Receiving Yards, 11 (No. 7) Total Touchdowns, and 18.4 (No. 4) Fantasy Points per Game. It’s no surprise that the efficiency followed suit; he recorded a +22.1 (No. 8) Production Premium, 5.9 (No. 4) Yards Per Touch, and 354 (No. 9) Yards Created. Expect more of that efficiency in 2021 with the core of Jones, Aaron Rodgers, and Davante Adams intact.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

Arguably one of the most frustrating running backs in start/sit decisions is Nyheim Hines. It often felt like we sat him when he balled out and started him when he gave us single-digit fantasy points. In Week 8, Hines scored 21.2 (No. 5) Fantasy Points and then 5.8 (No. 47) the following week. Then in Week 10, he exploded for 28.5 (No. 3) Fantasy Points and followed that up with 6.3 (No. 39) in Week 11. He then rewarded his managers with double-digit fantasy points in five out of the final six games. There’s no blaming anyone that struggled with start/sit decisions involving him.  

Colts Running Back Data 2020

Hines is the definition of a satellite running back. He ranked No. 3 in all of the viable receiving metrics, with 77 Targets, 64 Receptions, and 482 Receiving Yards. He had good efficiency metrics even with his 30.4-percent (No. 60) Opportunity Share and 174.3 (No. 19) Weighted Opportunities, averaging 5.6 (No. 8) Yards Per Touch and logging a +24.4 (No. 5) Production Premium. He didn’t create much on his own, with a 16.3-percent (No. 50) Juke Rate and 0.61 (No. 59) Yards Created Per Touch. Even though he received a low Snap Share down the stretch when Jonathan Taylor dominated, Hines still produced in the receiving game. Though he isn’t a check-down king like Philip Rivers, expect the Colts offense expects to have a slight boost with Carson Wentz at quarterback.

Low-Efficiency Outliers

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

Oh my, what one season of lackluster production does to a fantasy player’s outlook. After much hype heading into 2020, Miles Sanders didn’t explode like we expected, partly due to the Eagles offense struggling as a whole with their offensive line and Carson Wentz. Sanders only played in 12 games in 2020, producing about 300 fewer yards yet averaging almost identical Fantasy Points per Game compared to 2019. That said, he could’ve outproduced his 2019 rookie season if he had stayed healthy. Even in 2020, he dominated the running back opportunities with a 76.3-percent (No. 6) Opportunity Share and 180.0 (No. 17) Weighted Opportunities.


Sanders fell into the low-efficiency outlier group with his -3.5 (No. 45) Production Premium. However, he averaged 5.6 (No. 8) Yards Per Touch and 1.67 (No. 10) Yards Created Per Touch, which indicated he showed explosiveness with his opportunities. Jalen Hurts at quarterback should help Sanders and the run game, but may result in fewer RB targets. His mid-thrd-round FFPC ADP tells us sharp fantasy managers expect a bounceback since he should dominate the opportunities once again.

Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders

We already wrote up Kenyan Drake  as a dynasty player to sell-high on at running back. In an odd signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, he expects to eat into Josh Jacobs‘ value. Oh, and this cool site with beautiful Dynasty Deluxe Rankings noted Jacobs as the biggest faller (insert sad face here). It’s a bit too late to shop either back given their drops in value.

Drake earned a 66.0-percent (No. 13) Opportunity Share and 192.1 (No. 15) Weighted Opportunities, yet only averaged 12.8 (No. 24) Fantasy Points per Game, boosted by his 955 (No. 12) Rushing Yards and ten (No. 10) Total Touchdowns. Unfortunately, Drake wasn’t efficient with his opportunities and ended with a -16.3 (No. 68) Production Premium, 4.1 (No. 57) Yards Per Touch, and 0.66 (No. 55) Yards Created Per Touch. Expect all the opportunity, productivity, and efficiency metrics to plummet in 2021 unless Jacobs suffers an injury that boosts Drake’s value.

Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

Before the Kenyan Drake signing, Josh Jacobs fell near other low-efficiency outliers like Malcolm Brown and Alexander Mattison, both of whom received much fewer touches. Similar to the next guy in Ezekiel Elliott, Jacobs earned a ton of opportunities with 67.2-percent (No. 11) Opportunity Share and 234.5 (No. 7) Weighted Opportunities, primarily boosted by his 273 (No. 3) Carries. Although Jacobs had 45 (No. 24) Targets, 238 (No. 25) Receiving Yards, and 33 (No. 24) Receptions, he only earned more than four targets twice in 2020. With Drake in town, we expect Jacobs to lose touches and opportunities in 2021, meaning his dynasty and redraft stock takes a hit.

Even though he finished with 12 (No. 4) Total Touchdowns and 15.4 (No. 12) Fantasy Points per Game, he relied on opportunities in 2020. He lacked efficiency with a -13.6 (No. 61) Production Premium and averaged 4.3 (No. 53) Yards Per Touch, but had a 27.5-percent (No. 12) Juke Rate. High volume and more opportunities can lead to more Evaded Tackles and Yards Created while helping bolster the Juke Rate


Like the song by Jay Sean and Lil Wayne, baby, are you down, down, down? Why yes, we’re down, down, down on Jacobs in dynasty and redraft heading into 2021. He ended up as the biggest faller in the Dynasty Deluxe Rankings, now ranked No. 45 overall in Superflex leagues behind D.J. Moore. He’s still within the top-50 overall and a ripe 23.1 years old, so decide whether you’re buying, selling, or holding in dynasty leagues. Just recently, the Podfather and Marcus Mosher recommended him as a player to hold. Oh my, how things quickly change. 

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Before we overreact to Ezekiel Elliott‘s 2020 season, it’s difficult to fault him after the injury to Dak Prescott, which impacted the entire offense. Elliott dominated opportunities and touches once again, and he typically relies on volume instead of efficiency. The numbers back it up; he earned a 72-percent (No. 9) Opportunity Share and 261.0 (No. 4) Weighted Opportunities. Meanwhile, he finished with 979 (No. 10) Rushing Yards and 338 (No. 15) Receiving Yards. However, due to the unfortunate Prescott injury and offensive line woes, he didn’t compile the kind of total yardage he managed in 2019 with similar opportunities. The most notable dip in efficiency involved a lower average Yards per Touch, Production Premium, and Dominator Rating. However, he still ranked highly in Yards Created and Juke Rate, but not nearly as well as he did the year prior. 

Ezekiel Elliot 2020 Efficiency Data with and without Dak Prescott

Elliott should bounce back in 2021 assuming Prescott’s health and offensive line improvements from the 67.7 (No. 51) Run Blocking Efficiency rating managed last year. On the Dynasty Deluxe Rankings, he ranks No. 32 overall between Miles Sanders and Nick Chubb in SuperFlex leagues. At 25.7 years of age, he is close to the potential age-26 decline, though it’s not a hard and fast rule. If you’re competing in a dynasty league, then hold or trade him away for Antonio Gibson, even if you need to toss in a small piece. Although the purpose of this article wasn’t dynasty-related, we’ll always touch on it with the rich dynasty content and rankings.