Wide receivers are the new workhorses of the NFL

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For the past eight years, it has been expected that you could draft at least one 300-carry running back for your fantasy team. That's because there have been approximately ten 300-carry running backs each year since 2000.

Except for last year. In 2007, only six running backs hit the 300-carry mark. A huge drop-off from previous years.

Those lost offensive opportunities shifted to the passing game. In 2007, there were eleven wide receivers with 90 or more receptions, up from seven the previous year.

Below is a graph showing the trend of highly-used wide receivers and running backs since 2000 (Data from Pro-Football-Reference).

These stats probably aren't a surprise to most fantasy owners. Everyone knows that last year was a huge passing year in the NFL.

I was surprised, however, by the fact that wide receivers have never had such an advantage over running backs. Even in the early 2000s, wide receivers only held a one-player advantage.

Another interesting fact is that these two lines don't cross frequently. The last time there was a shift from wide receivers to running backs in 2003, there were four solid years of running backs out-performing wide receivers.

Was last year a fluke or the start of a new trend? My guess is that this is a new trend that fantasy owners will need to keep in mind when drafting this year.

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Categories: stats