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Running Backs Had A Good Thing Going — Until The Analytics Era

This week marks the start of NFL training camps, but a few big names might not take the field. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott may hold out in the hopes of negotiating a more favorable contract.

Elliott would join a list of running backs who have recently held out from practice — or, in Le’Veon Bell’s case, a whole season — in search of more lucrative deals. What do the numbers say about his chances at a raise? On today’s show, we discuss how analytics might play a role in the depreciation of positions and whether these evolutions are for the better.

Our Rabbit Hole this week discusses our recent research into the danger of foul balls and what might constitute a baseball VIP experience in Japan.

What we’re looking at:

  • Our colleague Josh Hermsmeyer weighs in on the Elliott debate.
  • The Atlantic investigates the disappearance of centers from the NBA.
  • The Washington Post examines the reaction time fans have should they find themselves in foul ball territory.

Grace Lynch is the former producer of Hot Takedown.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.

Annette Choi was a data visualization intern for FiveThirtyEight.