Steven Jackson and sleeper running backs 

August, 3, 2010
08/03/10
2:10
PM ET

Today's winners in Stats & Analytics:

Matt Forte, Fred Jackson, Steven Jackson

Today's losers:

Thomas Jones, Felix Jones, DeAngelo Williams

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been looking at how to apply advanced metrics to build a winning fantasy football team. Today's episode: finding value among running backs.

Under most fantasy systems, not only do the best running backs score a boatload of points, but there's a big gap between the top handful of RBs and everyone else. (All of the top five players drafted in ESPN leagues, and seven of the top 10, are RBs.) This means when it comes to drafting, particularly if you don't get one of the super-duperstars, you need to work both sides of the value equation. You have to project player performance accurately (the benefit side). You also have to exploit misperceptions and irrationality among your competition to make the most of your picks (the cost side). On both counts, I've unearthed a stat you want.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

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