Analyzing Running Back Hit Rates by Draft Round: A Comparison to Wide Receivers

In this series, we’ll aim to find some clarity in the hit rate of each position by their draft capital. In the wide receiver article, it was clear that day three receivers have an almost impossible small hit rate. For every Puka Nacua, there are almost 50 receivers that never sniff fantasy rosters or the average fan’s mind. Let’s take a look at how this compares to running backs from 2011 through 2021.

Note: Hit rate is extremely subjective, but to try and make sure that no one hit wonders or fluky backs were considered hits, I used two or more top 24 fantasy finishes for a running back.

Running Back Hit Rates by NFL Draft Round

First-Round Running Back Hit Rate

In a move that is surprising to nobody, running backs in the first round have the highest hit rate. They hit a 12/16 clip in the ten years examined, 75% for those that prefer percentages. What’s interesting is their hit rate compared to wide receivers, as they’re a considerably better bet. This is likely due to the mantra that targets are earned, and volume is king. If a receiver can’t earn targets, they won’t get them. While a running back can just have the role, get a ton of carries due to the commitment from the team and hit minimum thresholds.

Day Two Running Back Hit Rate

Second round running backs actually hit at a higher clip than first round wide receivers. They’ve been steady at exactly 50%, while first round receivers are a touch under that. The drop off to the third round is a bit more steep than one would expect, with a 10/31 rate. Still ahead of receivers selected in the same range, even with the higher threshold to be considered a hit (top 36 vs top 24).

Day Three Running Back Hit Rate

There’s an implied strategy to take a day three running back before taking a day three receiver or running back. Across all of day three, receivers were six out of 211. There were more hits for running backs in the sixth and seventh round alone, so the strategy rings true. Broken out by round:

  • Fourth round 8/50
  • Fifth Round 3/34
  • Sixth Round 3/48
  • Seventh Round 2/46

That puts day three at 16 out of 178, so still a longshot but a better swing than receivers. Another advantage to running backs in this zone is their week to week usage as a handcuff. They may never be the number one in their backfield, but at the most injured position with some of the least depth on our fantasy teams, drafting day three running backs to plug and play is a strategy worth considering.

Last Word on Running Back Hit Rates by Round

Running back hit rates are fairly clean. It slowly tapers off by round, from 75 percent in the first all the way down to under 5 percent in the seventh. After the first three rounds of the NFL draft, the numbers show that swinging on running backs later is the best course of action.

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Main Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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2024-04-12 15:01:03
#Running #Hit #Rates #NFL #Draft


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