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Mailbag: Is 1,000 Yards Still a RB Benchmark?


Seeing Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard split carries this year, I was curious if you feel like the 1,000-yard mark is losing its place as a benchmark stat when evaluating and assessing who the NFL's top-tier running backs are? – Nathan Mattison/Glen Falls, NY

Patrik: I think it's fair to have that conversation, absolutely, but I don't know that it'll happen anytime soon. For as long as the 1,000-yard marker is celebrated as an achievement — similar to how it is with wide receivers — it'll continue being a benchmark stat and, quiet as it's kept, one that is also a talking point in contract negotiations around the NFL. It's long been a pass-heavy league though, which is to say that if that conversation hasn't happened yet, it's probably never going to; and especially with the league coming full circle back to the brand of football dominated by pass rush and interceptions, forcing the rushing attack to matter now more than it has in decades.

Kyle: In this day and age of fantasy football, fans will certainly still have their eyes on the numbers. And while production will always secure a spot on an NFL roster, the pure milestone of 1,000 yards doesn't mean as much for two reasons. For one, it's now a 17-game season and hitting that milestone can become clouded like it did towards the end of the season last year with a banged-up Ezekiel Elliott. The second reason is that teams are comfortable splitting backfield production to keep guys fresh for the later parts of the season. Pollard and Zeke are just one example of a high-powered backfield that complement each other in a gameplan and can help aid each other in being available late in the season and into the playoffs. Having 1,000 yards will always be an achievement, but it's no longer necessary to be one of the best tailbacks in the league.

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