Two key metrics on to identify rusher success are Breakaway Run Rate and Yards Created Per Touch. Breakaway Run Rate is our lens into players who have speed, and Yards Created Per Touch correlates to overall agility.

Breakaway Run Rate is defined as the percentage of run plays that are 15-yards or greater. Yards Created Per Rush Play is the Yards Per Carry subtracted from Line Yards (Football Outsiders). These two metrics together provide us with the ability to identify the most efficient rushers in college football. We will also reference body mass index (BMI) as our measure to index these metrics for size-adjusted athleticism.

First, lets review the 2019 college football data:

The upper-right quadrant contains players who have both above average Breakaway Run Rate and Yards Created Per Rush Play. From the 2020 draft Jonathan Taylor, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, J.K. Dobbins, and D’Andre Swift all received Day 1 or Day 2 draft capital and performed as RB10, RB22, RB31, and RB20 in average points per game for a half point PPR format during their rookie seasons.

For 2021 rookie drafts, we can see Travis Etienne was on another planet during the 2019 college football season. Also, Najee Harris, Chubba Hubbard, Kenneth Gainwell, and Javian Hawkins have proved their to ability to be successful rushers. Finally, Jalen Hurts was clearly a QB that displayed his ability as a rusher.

Next, lets apply this concept to 2020 college football data and focus on the upper-right quadrant:

For upcoming ’21 dynasty rookie drafts, we will first discuss those who have repeated their 2019 success in 2020. Etienne took a nosedive from his outlier season, but he still remains in the upper-right quadrant of the graph. Hawkins has improved within Yards Created Per Rush Play, but also showed a small reduction in Breakaway Run Rate.

Two newcomers in 2020 are Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who makeup the North Carolina tandem.

First and foremost, Williams is in a tier of his own with a BMI of 31.6. lists a BMI of 32 as extraordinary. In 2020, Williams’ bested 2019 [Jonathan] Taylor and [J.K.] Dobbins in Breakaway Run Rate — but only had half of the rush plays.

Next, Carter has followed the course of 2019 Etienne: Carter is slightly ahead of Etienne, with a BMI of 30.3 compared to 29.4. We should be interested to see how Carter tests compared to Etienne at the Combine and/or pro day; if they are close, we’re certainly talking about Carter as the discount Etienne.

A few players I want to focus on for devy drafts are Tank Bigsby, Breece Hall, Isaiah Spiller, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Kevin Harris.

As a freshman, Bigsby was efficient with volume but is on the lighter side with a BMI of 27.7. Still, Bigsby should be at the top of your draft board for upcoming devy drafts if he is available.

Hall and Spiller currently hold the top-2 RB spots for 2022. Look to make a trade offer now so you can avoid a godfather offer at the end of the 2021 season. In terms of BMI, Spiller is currently sitting at 29.7 and Hall is at 28.4, all while Hall mostly likely has more speed shown through a higher breakaway run rate.

Harris is taking the baton for the third RB spot for the 2022 class. Of the five backs mentioned, he had the worst offensive line ranking (92) in Line Yards and forcing him into a position to create yards on his own. Ibrahim would be my last priority for upcoming devy drafts as he is a returning for his senior season.

Lastly, and looking at upcoming dynasty drafts, Trey Sermon has been elite in a small sample size. For devy drafts, some discussed names are Zach Evans and Bijan Robinson, where Evans has outperformed Robinson against their limited touches.

Robinson measures above Evans in terms of BMI with 30.2 compared to 27.2; both of these freshman should be priority additions in upcoming devy drafts if not already acquired.

A deep name to monitor is DeWayne McBride, who is a freshman at University of Alabama at Birmingham and has excelled in a small sample while holding a 30.7 BMI against his current measurable (5-11, 220). If Spencer Brown (senior at University of Alabama at Birmingham) declares for the draft, look for McBride to breakout in his sophomore season.

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