The Baltimore Ravens have publicly released word that Ray Rice and second year running back Bernard Pierce will share carries in 2013. Nobody’s quite sure what “share” means, so I will break down some numbers for you. We’ll determine if Ray Rice’s value is “cooked” or if he should continue to be a first round draft pick in fantasy football drafts.
If you’re in a PPR league, Ray Rice is certainly a first round pick. Over the past four seasons, Rice has averaged 69.5 receptions per year. Regarding Bernard Pierce’s years at Temple University, he only recorded 19 total receptions over three seasons with the Owls. Rice’s PPR value will remain first round value regardless if they’re sharing carries going forward.
Let’s first take a look at the first half season numbers of rush attempts and rush yards in 2012 to see both running backs production:
First Half of Season Rush Attempts/Yards
|First Half of Season||Ray Rice||Bernard Pierce*||Total|
|Percent of Carries||81.4%||18.6%|
|*Played 7 Games in First Half of Season|
This chart seems about right for a stud running back and a rookie running back. Pierce had an incredible junior season at Temple, rushing for 1,481 yards with 27 touchdowns. He didn’t get much of a chance the first half of the season with just 30 rush attempts, but that’s to be expected when your backing up a back like Rice. Now let’s take a look at the second half of the season numbers:
Second Half of Season Rush Attempts/Yards
|Second Half of Season||Ray Rice||Bernard Pierce||Total|
|Percent of Carries||61.8%||38.2%|
|**11.8% more rush att. in second half|
Rice’s rush attempt percentage decreased nearly 20% in the second half while Pierce’s increased to 38.2%. This shows how much trust the Ravens have gained in Bernard Pierce in just a half of season. Now, let’s take a look at the overall season total numbers for the Baltimore Ravens running backs:
Season Total Rush Attempts/Yards
|Season Total||Ray Rice||Bernard Pierce||Total|
|Percent of Carries||70.4%||29.6%|
For everyone reading this thinking “Pierce’s numbers were inflated in the second half of games because of garbage time”, here’s a fourth quarter chart of rush attempts and rush yards with percentages:
4th Quarter Rush Attempts/Yards
|4th Quarter||Ray Rice||Bernard Pierce||Total|
|Percent of Carries||70.9%||29.1%|
As you can see, Ray Rice’s rush attempt percentages were slightly higher (up 0.5%) than the regular season while Bernard Pierce’s were a bit lower (down 0.5%).
Using last season’s numbers, let’s us 364 total carries to even things out at 182 carries (the total was 365). If both Rice and Pierce got the same number of carries (182), Rice would end up with 812 rushing yards and Pierce would end up with 899 rushing yards. Do I think this is possible? No, I don’t see this being a realistic valuation of the two.
I see a 60/40 split being the most likely number the Ravens will go with in 2013. Using last season’s total carry number of 265, let’s say Rice received 60% of the carries with Pierce receiving 40% of the carries. That would leave Rice with 972 rushing yards on 219 carries, while Pierce would rush for 718 yards on 146 carries. While Ray Rice’s receptions should still be in the 65+ range, he should still be a first round pick even in standard leagues.
“I know when it comes down to crucial situations I’ll be in the game.”
–Ray Rice on sharing carries with Bernard Pierce
With the increase in carries, Bernard Pierce should unquestionably exceed his touchdown total of just one last season. Pierce is a talented running back and one day will be a star in the NFL. Until that day comes, this is Ray Rice’s backfield and I think Rice will let that be known when he puts it all out field this season. The loss of Vonta Leach could be a bigger factor in Rice’s production this season.
Do you think Bernard Pierce’s increased carries or the loss of Vonta Leach will be a bigger factor for Ray Rice this season?