In the game of American Football a fullback (FB) is an offensive position. A fullback, along with a halfback (also known as a tailback) makes up a part of the team known as the running backs. The running backs line up at the rear of the offensive formation, behind the quarterback. From here their job fulfills two main roles in offensive play:

  1. They receive passes from the quarterback and run the ball up the field.
  2. They protect another player who has the ball (the ball carrier) from tacklers.

What does a fullback do?

Fullback and halfback duties are often interchangeable which leads to some confusion about what their strict roles are. When talking about running with the ball (running plays), it is generally true to say that in NFL American Football, fullbacks do not make long runs with the ball, a halfback is more likely to do this. Instead, a fullback may be used to gain a small amount of yardage where his strength and size can be used to break through a strong defensive formation. This is particularly useful in a third or fourth down where just a small gain is needed. In addition to gaining his own yardage, fullbacks can make an excellent combination with halfbacks. The powerful fullback creates a hole in the defense’s blocking formation which the speedier halfback runs the ball through.

In college football a fullback traditionally has a more varied role than in NFL and he may be used to carry the ball further up the field.

Fullbacks are useful in passing plays. In this instance it is their job to protect the Quarterback from attacks while their team mates get into position to receive a long pass. To counter a passing play, the defense may send a linebacker after the quarterback. It will likely fall to a fullback to bring down this most capable of American Football positions.

What makes a good fullback?

In modern NFL, fullback are usually heavy, muscular and large players. Although some have been noted for their speed. Fullbacks are usually a bit slower than other players due to their size. An excellent example of this is the famous fullback, William Perry also known as ‘The Fridge’. Perry was a defensive lineman by trade but when close to the opposition goal-line got the opportunity to play on offense as a fullback. Perry weighed in at an enormous 326 lbs at a height of 6 feet and 2 inches and was a favorite player of the Chicago Bears. The Fridge was among the type of fullback known as powerbacks. Don’t think that powerbacks are only there to block the opposition however. Even at the size of the Fridge they must be versatile players able to maintain possession of the ball if asked to make a run. In a classic example of this The Fridge scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XX.

Offensive plays using a fullback

A classic offensive play in American Football is known as the triple option. It involves three different positions (Fullback, Quarterback and Slotback) and aims to create confusion and uncertainty in the opposition team so that they mismanage their defensive play. A fullback lines up directly behind the quarterback with the slotback nearby. Upon play the fullback takes or pretends to take the ball from the quarterback. From here there are three options available to the offense:-

  1. The fullback has the ball, he attempts to blast through the defense and gain a small amount of yardage.
  2. The quarterback has the ball (but the defense think the fullback has it). The fullback runs into the defensive line up as a decoy while the quarterback runs up the field followed by the slotback and passes it to him to make a run.
  3. As 2 but instead of passing to the slotback the quarterback heads up the field.