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Fantasy Football: Peyton Manning and Aging Running Backs

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Throughout the year, I’ll be posting a lot of my fantasy football content at a new site called rotoViz. Many of you who follow me for fantasy football purposes might know the creator of the site as the “Fantasy Douche.” His name is Frank DuPont and he’s probably the top fantasy football writer I know. The focus of rotoViz is data visualization in fantasy football, and so you’ll see a number of awesome interactive apps being rolled out as the season approaches.

In my first post at the site, I used the QB Similarity Scores app to create ceiling and floor projections for the top four quarterbacks in fantasy drafts. In doing so, I found that Peyton Manning might be a sneaky safe pick.

Using the custom QB Similarity Scores App, I calculated the upside and downside for the draft’s top four quarterbacks—Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Manning—by charting the fantasy points scored by their top four and bottom four comparables, respectively, in each statistical category (minimum of six games played).

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In terms of upside, the quarterbacks are all grouped together pretty tightly. Rodgers has the advantage because of his rushing ability and age, while Brees is right behind him since he could very well become the first quarterback to throw 6,000 passes in one season. For the most part, though, there’s not a massive difference here. Now let’s take a look at the players’ floors. . .

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You can see that Manning’s bottom four comparables in each category have generated a floor that’s nearly two fantasy points per game higher than the comparables for Rodgers, Brees, and Brady. You could argue that Manning has the best offensive weapons of the bunch, and he posted 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns in his first year in Denver. There’s even more upside to be had as Manning’s comfort level with his teammates and new town grows.

Head over to rotoViz for the rest of that article and a whole lot more.

In my latest “According to the Data” article, I took a look at historic running back production based on age.

I recently researched the production for all running backs with at least 100 touches in a season since 2000. Below, I charted those backs based on their total production and efficiency at each age.

Contrary to popular belief, running backs don’t see a dramatic drop in their total production around age 30. Instead, that decline typically occurs after their age 26 season. Yes, the typical running back’s overall production peaks before his 27th birthday. From there, the drop is a steep one, with the average 29-year old back producing only 70 percent of the fantasy points he generated at his peak.

The decline in efficiency is even more amazing. The average NFL running back records the highest points-per-touch at age 22 – usually his rookie season or second year in the league. From there, the drop is pretty steady until age 30, when there’s a slight increase. That small jump is probably due to more talented backs staying in the league while lesser players have been forced out. The rise is short-lived, with the average running back seeing a dramatic decrease in efficiency by age 33.

Looking at the chart, it’s pretty clear that running backs don’t peak at age 30. Actually, if you’re considering drafting a 30-year old back, you can probably expect his production to remain steady for at least a couple of years. That production is nowhere near his past peak, but as long as that’s factored into your decision on where to draft him, you should be fine.

The full post is at RotoWire.

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