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  1. #1
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    100 Greatest Running Backs ALL-TIME

    *Ranked by "RB SCORE", a hybrid of "RB RATE" an LWS efficiency metric and "WAA x 1.5" a LWS volume production metric.
    *Playoff stats included
    *All GP for 12, 14-game RS, strike-shortened RS, and PS normalized to 16-game RS and 2019 PS format
    *All receiving and special teams stats factored into the RB RATE
    *All receiving stats and fumble stats adjusted to 2019 levels
    *In cases eg Larry Centers/Bobby Mitchell/Eric Metcalf/Brian Mitchell/Dave Megget/Ronnie Harmon etc. where estimated receiving targets>rush attempts, player classified in the WR or ST category
    *All RB careers must extend passed the 1950 merger to qualify
    *RB SCORE is presented in the EXEL file below

    1 Jim Brown
    2 Barry Sanders
    3 Eric Dickerson
    4 Marshall Faulk
    5 Adrian Peterson
    6 Walter Payton
    7 Marcus Allen
    8 O.J. Simpson
    9 Emmitt Smith
    10 Joe Perry
    11 LaDainian Tomlinson
    12 John Riggins
    13 Thurman Thomas
    14 Franco Harris
    15 LeSean McCoy
    16 Tony Dorsett
    17 Frank Gore
    18 Jim Taylor
    19 Fred Taylor
    20 Tiki Barber
    21 Curtis Martin
    22 Ricky Watters
    23 Corey Dillon
    24 Marshawn Lynch
    25 Jerome Bettis
    26 Ottis Anderson
    27 Edgerrin James
    28 Larry Csonka
    29 Shaun Alexander
    30 Steven Jackson
    31 Leroy Kelly
    32 Clinton Portis
    33 Priest Holmes
    34 Herschel Walker
    35 Warrick Dunn
    36 Roger Craig
    37 Ahman Green
    38 Matt Forte
    39 Earnest Byner
    40 James Brooks
    41 Earl Campbell
    42 Eddie George
    43 Thomas Jones
    44 Jamal Lewis
    45 Chuck Muncie
    46 Maurice Jones-Drew
    47 Lenny Moore
    48 Freeman McNeil
    49 Terrell Davis
    50 Calvin Hill
    51 Ricky Williams
    52 Gerald Riggs
    53 Chuck Foreman
    54 Brian Westbrook
    55 Chris Johnson
    56 Stephen Davis
    57 Wilbert Montgomery
    58 Steve Van Buren
    59 Charlie Garner
    60 Lydell Mitchell
    61 Ollie Matson
    62 Terry Allen
    63 Willis McGahee
    64 DeAngelo Williams
    65 Lawrence McCutcheon
    66 Larry Brown
    67 Jamaal Charles
    68 Floyd Little
    69 John Henry Johnson
    70 Bill Brown
    71 Neal Anderson
    72 Garrison Hearst
    73 Arian Foster
    74 Ken Willard
    75 Mike Pruitt
    76 Hugh McElhenny
    77 Rick Casares
    78 Mark van Eeghen
    79 Mark Ingram
    80 Curt Warner
    81 Le'Veon Bell
    82 Don Perkins
    83 DeMarco Murray
    84 John David Crow
    85 James Wilder
    86 Chris Warren
    87 William Andrews
    88 Pete Johnson
    89 Frank Gifford
    90 Michael Turner
    91 Ray Rice
    92 Wendell Tyler
    93 Rodney Hampton
    94 George Rogers
    95 Robert Smith
    96 Dorsey Levens
    97 Mike Garrett
    98 Alex Webster
    99 Clem Daniels
    100 Antowain Smith

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...OIJsII/pubhtml
    Last edited by Lionel20; 07-20-2020 at 06:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    The Baker has come. Believe the hype.


  3. #3
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    The obvious exclusion would be Gale Sayers--Sayers ranking 118th on my list. All other popular lists have Sayers in the top 15, including the "NFL top 100" ranking Sayers in the top 12 RB's of 24 Finalist.

    Sayers was the 2nd most efficient runner all-time, but even if we adjust his career stats to a 16-game regular season, he played in only 74 games. The "average" career in the top 100 RB's was 30% longer than Sayers. The potential Sayers had before career-ending injuries make him more of a sympathetic figure on most lists--that of course depends on the criteria of the lists. A list that doesn't value durability and longevity to some extent, would like overrate active player careers, as well as players such as Bo Jackson and Ickey Woods.

    Other NFL top 100 Finalist (in my all-time rankings)

    Dutch Clark (doesn't qualify)
    Steve Van Buren (58th)
    Marion Motley (125th)
    Jim Brown (1st)
    Lenny Moore (48th)
    OJ Simpson (8th)
    Walter Payton (6th)
    Earl Campbell (43rd)
    Eric Dickerson (3rd)
    Barry Sanders (2nd)
    Emmitt Smith (9th)
    Marcus Allen (7th)
    Jerome Bettis (25th)
    Tony Dorsett (17th)
    Marshall Faulk (4th)
    Red Grange (doesn't qualify)
    Franco Harris (14th)
    Hugh McElhenny (76th)
    Bronco Nagurski (doesn't qualify)
    Adrian Peterson (5th)
    Jim Taylor (19th)
    Thurman Thomas (13th)
    LaDainian Tomlinson (11th)

    Running Backs the NFL missed

    1. Joe Perry
    2. John Riggins
    3. Freeman McNeil
    4. LeSean McCoy
    5. Frank Gore
    6. Curtis Martin
    7. Ricky Watters
    8. Tiki Barber
    9. Corey Dillon

    It seems, without knowing any more of the criteria, that the NFL compiled it's list on a historic bias--not surprising.
    Last edited by Lionel20; 07-18-2020 at 05:34 PM.

  4. #4
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    Gore at 18 seems high

  5. #5
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    Some major headscratchers in there.

    Payton out of the top 5?

    LT out of the top 10, but some guy named Joe Perry is?

    Allen over OJ AND Emmitt?

    Who the hell is Freeman McNeil and why is he over Hall of Famers like Dorsett and Taylor?
    Last edited by d.m.g.; 07-20-2020 at 09:55 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by d.m.g. View Post
    Some major headscratchers in there.

    Payton out of the top 5?

    LT out of the top 10?

    Allen over OJ AND Emmitt?

    Who the hell is Freeman McNeil and why is he over Hall of Famers like Dorsett and Taylor?
    Freeman McNeil over Dorsett is indefensible.

  7. #7
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    Allen is a major sympathy pick here. He had 3 1000 yard seasons before he was squeezed into a time share. His peak was bright but short-lived. He put up 1200+ from scrimmage just once after they did that. His efficiency severely lacks as well.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariner4life View Post
    Freeman McNeil over Dorsett is indefensible.
    Yeah, I found a significant error with my strike-shortened calculations for McNeil smh. McNeil, still an underrated back with regards to his versatility and ball-security is ranked more appropriately at 48th following the adjustments. Thanks for calling that out.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionel20 View Post
    Yeah, I found a significant error with my strike-shortened calculations for McNeil smh. McNeil, still an underrated back with regards to his versatility and ball-security is ranked more appropriately at 48th following the adjustments. Thanks for calling that out.
    Itís all good.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by d.m.g. View Post
    Some major headscratchers in there.

    Payton out of the top 5?

    LT out of the top 10, but some guy named Joe Perry is?

    Allen over OJ AND Emmitt?

    Who the hell is Freeman McNeil and why is he over Hall of Famers like Dorsett and Taylor?
    Joe Perry is a legend -- you should look him up sometime.

    Remember OJ played played the prime of his career, including the famous 2,003 yard season, in 14-game seasons. I made an adjustment for that. OJ was one of the most efficient RB's all-time, 15th all-time even including the current RB's that haven't peaked. Simpson's 1975 is arguably the best all-time. He averaged 4.7 Y/A for his career. If the '75 season went a full 16, he would've claimed two separate 2,000 yard seasons.

    I credit Marcus Allen, appropriately for the strike-shortened seasons. Emmitt was a great receiving back, but following the time period adjustments, Emmitt wasn't quite in the class with Marcus Allen's versatility at the RB position.

    My top 5 receiving backs without question:

    Lenny Moore
    Frank Gifford
    Marshall Faulk
    Marcus Allen
    ^
    Their order depends on the specific way you evaluate receiving, but these are the five. I exclude backs like Bobby Mitchell, Ronnie Harmon, Keith Byars -- once adjusted for neutrality, they were targeted in the passing game more than they were ballcarriers in the traditional sense.

    The next tier include names such as:

    Tiki Barber
    Earnest Byner
    Roger Craig
    Herschel Walker
    LaDainian Tomlinson

    Emmitt's versatility gets overhyped when we compare it to Allen, Faulk, Moore, and Craig for instance.
    Last edited by Lionel20; 07-20-2020 at 07:07 PM.

  11. #11
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    The 49ers are not really known for the running backs, yet they end up on the list at 10, 17, 22, 36, 59, 72, 76, and 92. A list of 100 players across 30 teams, 8 had their peak with the 49ers. Any other teams dominate the list? Any teams not on the list at all?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scoots View Post
    The 49ers are not really known for the running backs, yet they end up on the list at 10, 17, 22, 36, 59, 72, 76, and 92. A list of 100 players across 30 teams, 8 had their peak with the 49ers. Any other teams dominate the list? Any teams not on the list at all?
    Ken Willard ran the football with Dick Nolans' 49ers made the list at #74 also.

    The quarterbacks over the length of the 49ers franchise have largely overshadowed their excellent ballcarriers like Perry, Gore, and Craig.

    Players like Watters, Garner, and Tyler had more career production with other teams, I estimate Watters for instance had only 29% of his production with the 49ers, 35% with the Eagles, and 36% with the Seahawks.

    I compiled a more extensive all-time list of 228 above average running backs. I calculated an adjusted yards from scrimmage percentage for each running back, the team he recorded the YSCRM% with, and divided it by the number years each franchise was in existence.

    It's no surprise that the Cowboys top the list as the franchise with the most productive running backs on average:

    Emmitt Smith
    All-time Rank = 9th
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 94%
    Tony Dorsett
    All-time Rank= 16th
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 95%
    Herschel Walker
    All-time Rank= 34th
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 46%
    Calvin Hill
    All-time Rank= 50th
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 83%
    Don Perkins
    All-time Rank= 82nd
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 100%
    DeMarco Murray
    All-time Rank= 83rd
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 64%
    Robert Newhouse
    All-time Rank=123rd
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 100%
    Ezekiel Elliott
    All-time Rank= 129th
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 100%
    Walt Garrison
    All-time Rank= 149
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 100%
    Marion Barber
    All-time Rank= 156th
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 100%
    Julius Jones
    All-time Rank= 191st
    % of career w/ Cowboys = 69%

    The Seahawks in 44 seasons ranks 2nd in running back production per season--top players include: Ricky Watters, Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Chris Warren, and John Williams.

    The Jaguars, Ravens, and Vikings round out the top 5. The 49ers are the 7th ranked franchise on the list.

    The least productive backfields on average are the Detroit Lions, in the 70 or so seasons I analyzed the Lions have only one ballcarrier in the top 100, Barry Sanders ranked #2. The Lions have one other running back ranked just outside of the top 100 in Billy Sims ranked #109.

    The Cardinals in 70 seasons are the second worst, with three backs ranking in the top 100: Ottis Anderson, Ollie Matson, John David Crow. However none of these players had more than 80% of their production with the Cardinals.

    Miami, New England, and Tampa Bay round out the five worse teams listed.

  13. #13
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    LT not top 10??... alright buddy


    yet mr overrated emmitt smith is 9th why dont we put aikman as a top 3 QB while we are at it

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by More-Than-Most View Post
    LT not top 10??... alright buddy


    yet mr overrated emmitt smith is 9th why dont we put aikman as a top 3 QB while we are at it
    The most important feature in my RB assessment tool is "creating" a neutral era to compare the players. In the OP link, the neutral era or comparison basis is 2019. My key findings mathematically confirm what most of us already know, due primarily to a series of passer-friendly rules the most radical changes in player performance happen in the passing game--any comparison between Bob Griese/Troy Aikman/Ben Roethlisberger eg must take these changes into consideration--otherwise top QB's from the 70s would likely never make anyones top-25.

    The running game has remained stable to a large degree. Yes, the emphasis on the passing game has indirectly affected it, but there are enough offsets theoretically that I feel comfortable comparing Leroy Kelly's rush/receiving stats with Chris Johnson without any adjustments. The Pass/Run ratios have changed dramatically which would suggest that today's running backs are being discounted on an all-time scale. However, the amount of plays per game have increased for one. Secondly, the 15-20% dip in handoffs have been replace by running backs being utilized more in the passing game. It's important to compare the full range of production to determine who is the better player on an all-time scale.

    The link below places the top 10 all-time backs from the 2019 basis "neutral year", into the consecutive years beginning in 1990 to estimate how their actual statistical performance would measure up against Emmitt Smith. In using 1990 as the "neutral period" Smith's efficiency increases compared to the 2019 model, largely because Smith's TD's per Target, Y/R are among the lowest in the group, and 2019 puts greater emphasis on a backs receiving efficiency. Running backs like Allen and Faulk bear the brunt, as a large part of their value is attached to their abilities in the passing game. Smith also has one of the lowest career yards per carry in the group at 4.16, the lowest being Allen at 4.04. If the neutral era changed from 2019 to trailing 1990, I'd estimate Smith moves up to 7th place within this group behind: Brown, Payton, Sanders, Dickerson, Peterson, Dickerson in that order.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...K497Lt/pubhtml

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