Carlos Hyde: Most Valuable Handcuff?
The way to win your fantasy league is relatively simple: Get value from each and every pick that you make. This sounds simple, but if it were everyone would do it. For example, selecting a late round running back that has the opportunity to be a starter is a game changer that could win your league. Every season there is a player that jumps out and becomes fantasy gold. This season that running back is Carlos Hyde.
Andy Reid: The Running Back Coach
Andy Reid has been a top offensive coach throughout his time in the league. He certainly has had some impressive running back performances. To try and quantify that, FFStatistics has a tool that allows you to look at the previous performances of positions under a particular coach. The coaches tool gives a direct comparison to the league average as well.
Looking at the RB1 under Andy Reid shows that he has been able to get solid production from the position, averaging RB1 performance. That average would be even more impressive if you discount some clunkers (Where Reid had three years outside of RB2 production). However, the general trend is that Reid gets reliable production out of his RB1, which is promising for fantasy owners.
Hyde vs Williams: Yearly Finishes
Yearly finishes are one metric to consider when looking at who the lead running back will be. FFStatistics has a tool that enables you to plot yearly finishes to compare different players. Below I have shown the year on year performances from that tool.
Looking at the yearly finishes, it is easy to see that Hyde has consistently been the more productive running back. The exception being last season where they finished at a near tie.
One of the main differences between the two is that Hyde has been given the opportunity to be a lead back before. In contrast, Williams has long been a rotation running back brought in on passing downs. Hyde has demonstrated that he has been able to shoulder a lead back role. Being involved in early-down work as well as on passing plays.
Hyde vs Williams: 2018 Season
Let’s dive into the 2018 season, where both players ended with similar fantasy finishes. Hyde started his season with the Cleveland Browns and was able to showcase his ability to be highly effective on the ground. He was an effective scorer, able to get into the end zone five times in four games.
Unfortunately, Hyde was not very productive in the passing game. Attracting just nine targets in the opening five weeks of the season. Part of that limitation was mobile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor’s, unwillingness to make short passes to the backfield. In fact, in 2018, Taylor targeted a running back just 13 times (15% of targets), and only five of those targets went the way of Hyde, with Duke Johnson receiving the other eight.
After that productive start, Nick Chubb & Baker Mayfield marked a change in the way the team attacked opponents. Ultimately Hyde was traded to the Jaguars. In Jacksonville, he was only given limited work behind Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, with Fournette preferred on running downs, and Yeldon on passing downs. In his time with the Jaguars, he never carried the ball more than 13 times, with a maximum of just three targets in any given week.
William’s Strong Finish
Damien Williams was with Kansas City all season but was fantasy relevant only in the final four weeks. Williams was extremely limited until Week 14, receiving a total of just 12 touches, seven of which came in Week 13 alone. However, towards the end of the season, Williams was given his opportunity and took it with both hands. From Week 14 onwards, Williams was highly productive, with 61 touches for 352 yards and six touchdowns.
What is reinforced by the combination of Williams, Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware last season, is the value of being the RB1 in an Andy Reid offense. Prior to his suspension, Kareem hunt scored double-digit fantasy points in 10 of his 11 games. Scoring 15 or more in nine games, and 20 or above in five games. In his two weeks as the number one, Ware had 12.2 and 17.9 fantasy points. Arguably, Williams outperformed Ware as the number one in Week 14, with 19 fantasy points in PPR. Whichever way you look at it both running backs were valuable that week. Add in the finish of Williams and it was a good season for the Chiefs RB1.
Using the FFStatistics consistency data, over the same time span as above. It is clear to see that the 2018 season is an outlier for both players. Hyde has been historically far more effective and consistent compared to Williams.
Hyde vs Williams: Opportunity Ratio
After considering the historical finishes of the players, it is worth considering if there is anything that can be gleaned from looking at the ability of both players to convert their opportunities that they are afforded into fantasy points.
One of my favorite tools on FFStatistics showcases this data;
As a side note, this is a fantastic tool to identify players with unsustainable runs. Players that can be sold high or bought low based upon the ability to score fantasy points from their touches.
From this it would appear on the face of it that Williams is the more effective back, averaging generally above 1 point for each touch of the ball he is given.
However, as noted above, Williams was used in the passing game far more than Hyde had been due to the role he was given. This gives Williams a massive advantage on his points per touch, as he scores points upon catching the ball.
If we re-run the data for standard scoring, then the double effect of catching passes changes things slightly.
Here, the comparison is far closer than in PPR scoring. The difference being in 2018 where Williams was able to be productive in the Chiefs offense. Therefore the ability of both running backs based on the above is roughly equal. One thing to note, is the limited touches that Williams was historically given. An expectation is that efficiency would decrease with an increased workload.
In my opinion, Carlos Hyde is the most valuable handcuff to own in fantasy this season. Williams was recently named the starter and will get the first crack at the starting gig. However, the talent gap is not as wide open in this backfield as in others. For example, the Dallas Cowboys backfield is locked in for the season with Ezekiel Elliot as an every down back.
The opportunity for the lead back in Kansas City is massive. With the route to being the starter shorter for Hyde than other running backs being taken around the same area in drafts. He is certainly a player that I would be targeting.