By Peter Fortunato, Editor
At the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, Barstool Sports’ PFT Commenter, co-host of the popular Pardon My Take podcast, created a new statistic to highlight the work put in by fullbacks, a position that doesn’t get too much lime light these days. It’s called the Fullback Assist (FBA).
According to PFT, a fullback assist occurs when, “…a team scores a rushing TD from 5 yds in or closer and there is a lead blocker in play.” The Twitter account Barstool Sabermetrics recorded every FBA to happen in 2019 with this thread here.
I decided to visualize this data to try to make sense of what kind of players and teams utilized this kind of old school offensive scheming when today’s NFL is dominated by explosive-passing attacks.
As you can see, the Patriots, 49ers, and Vikings led the league in team FBA’s with 7. Accounting for all of his team’s FBA’s, Vikings’ C.J. Ham is the undisputed best fullback of 2019, as declared by PFT himself.
But if you view the FBA as more of a team effort, then the Patriots are the clear leader, as they had five different players record an FBA. Two of the players (accounting for four of their FBA’s) are linebackers who were brought in to the offense specifically to execute this stat. Bill Belichick deserves all of the praise for finding creativity and improvisation during an otherwise impotent offensive campaign in 2019.
I’m a huge fan of the Fullback Assist because it highlights the work put in by football players who are otherwise not known by even the most ardent sports fans. Absolute studs like Ham, Kyle Juszczyk, Alec Ingold, Derek Watt, Jamize Olawale, and Keith Smith receive their due praise with the FBA. This graph also displays the names of many second- and third-string players, giving them a record of sufficiently executing their role on the football field.
I took this a step further and decided to plot the weight of every play to record an FBA in 2019 against their FBA season total, and found something interesting.
At 303lbs, Patrick Ricard is the third-heaviest player to record an FBA in 2019, tallying up four of them. His fellow big men Vea (347lbs), Alualu (304lbs), Ferentz (300lbs), and Day (285lbs) are all lineman and were able to only record one FBA each. The 85 other FBA’s of 2019 were recorded by players weighing between 223 and 258lbs.
Ricard also spent time playing on defensive side of the ball as well, and he has so far established himself as a two-way player. Here he is causing sacking Bengals QB Ryan Finley that lead to a Ravens fumble recovery and touchdown.
The Ravens fullback is well deserving of his Pro-Bowl honors and $7.3 million contract extension he signed last December.