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The smarter stat for projecting young running backs

Does Mike Clay's improved method of analyzing young running backs forecast success for Washington's Matt Jones? AP

"Torture numbers, and they'll confess to anything."

A perfect quote from the great Gregg Easterbrook, and one that is relevant now more than ever.

NFL teams have entire departments dedicated to analytics. ESPN Stats & Info is constantly delivering new, innovative data. Pro Football Focus is charting every aspect of every player on every play. The NFL is using chip technology to track each player's every move.

It's a new, exciting age for statistics, but also one that is quite convoluted. We're constantly delivering and absorbing data, but often we're unable to correctly process what is and isn't relevant to a player's prospects. We have snaps, pass routes, yards per carry, completion percentage, missed games because of injury, off-target rates, average depth of target, etc. The list goes on and on.

The challenge for NFL teams and analysts is to determine which statistics are important and which are just noise.