Monday, July 1, 2019

Stats LLC's "Marshall Faulk Number"

By John Turney
Just under twenty years ago Stats, LLC (then Stats, Inc and now is STATS and purports to be "STATS is the world's leading sports data and technology company") published preseason books reviewing the previous NFL seasons. Often they'd list new and innovative stats or would simply make observations on unique players or teams.

One of those things was called the "Marshall Faulk number". It was a metric meant to measure running backs who run the ball well and caught the ball well, at least closer in yardage than average backs. They'd take the rushing yards and the receiving yards and compute a harmonic mean.

According to WikipediaThe harmonic mean can be expressed as the reciprocal of the arithmetic mean of the reciprocals of the given set of observations. As a simple example, the harmonic mean of 1, 4, and 4 is
Essentially it means that Stats, LLC. thought it better expressed the average between the rushing and receiving numbers rather than a simple mean—taking the two numbers and dividing by two.

Well, they began that in 1999 if memory serves and today we will update it. However, we did it by average rushing/receiving yards per game, not the season totals so it will better include players from the 14- and 12-game seasons.

Faulk dominates the top six but other great names are listed including Lenny Moore, Chuck Foreman, and others.

Here are all the players who averaged (harmonic mean) 58.0 yards per game.


  1. John, I hope you don't take this as either cheeky or churlish, but....does this have any application in the "real world"? how would an offensive coordinator of an NFL team approach this data?

    1. I don't think an offensive coordinator would have any use for that statistic. Or 90% of all statistics.

      It's a stat for fans