October 23 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers running backs have been off to an incredible start. It’s not just that both Hearst and Barlow are averaging more than five yards per carry, but that they are being extremely productive too. Twominutewarning.com one of the Internets best sites for analyzing and computing data regarding players production in the NFL, has done an excellent job of demonstrating how effective the 49ers tandem has been so far this season.
I’ll begin with Hearst, and his 544 yards from scrimmage for the season. Hearst is used as a receiver or runner on 29% of the 49ers offensive plays, his number jumps to 37% when the 49ers are in the red zone. As computed by twominutewarning.com Hearst thus has 62 opportunity points, which are points awarded to a player for the amount of opportunities he has to put points on the board. This compared with Hearst’s 78 actual points, which are derived from a ‘fantasy league’ formula give a ratio of 125% - which in effect is Hearst’s productivity rating as an individual.
Kevan Barlow who has 395 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns is used on 19% of the 49ers offensive plays, but his use drops to 10% inside the red zone (mainly due to the increased touches Hearst gets). Barlow’s ratio of opportunity points to actual points is 141% meaning that despite getting into the end zone twice this season, he is being an incredibly productive running back.
That the two backs comprise 48% of the 49ers offensive yards outside the red zone, and 46% of the in the red area, shows just how reliant the 49ers are on their running backs. That the two backs have such a high productivity rating, shows that as individuals they are certainly doing their jobs. However a better indicator may be that the two players are ranked consecutively as 10 and 11 in terms of yards per carry, a number that jumps up to 6 and 7 if you eliminate backs with 10 caries or less, and jumps even higher still if you eliminate backs with 20 or fewer carries, suddenly Hearst and Barlow are ranked as number two and three in the league, only trailing Charlie Garner (who is at an amazing 7.4 yards per carry).
Further - I know that fantasy stats can be somewhat misleading at times, but really they are the best way to analyze the effectiveness of an individual player.