The NFL train chugs along…
Next up is ranking the 10 best running backs in the NFL today. Much like the QB position, I think the RB pool is one of the deepest it has been since the days of feature backs are pretty much gone. I remember growing up in the early 2000s with guys like LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Fred Taylor just to name a few. They would tote the rock a minimum of 24-25 times per game. Almost every team had a true bell cow.
We have seen a bit of resurgence with some guys who you would label as feature backs in more recent years. Although some teams have been using feature backs, it clearly isn’t the same as it was back then. Much of that has to do with more passing in today’s league. It is more vital for your guy to be just as good at receiving as he is at running.
That being said, the crop is healthy. Let’s run through them…
10. Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Ingram may be the most underrated back in the league. He can do it all from rushing to receiving to pass blocking. He does it all better than good. I wouldn’t say he is elite at anything except pass blocking. On the flip side, he shouldn’t bee labeled above average at anything either. He is one of those guys that doesn’t have a weak spot in his game. A main reason he doesn’t get the love he deserves is because he has been stuck in backs by committee his entire career. Since his third year in the league, he has failed to reach 4.5 yards per carry just once.
9. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: Prior to 2017, Johnson was in the class of top 3 or 4 in the league. Unfortunately, a season ending injury during game 1 of 2017 and sub standard 2018 knocks him down slightly. Granted, the Cards were a dumpster fire in 2018. He is one of the game’s best all purpose backs who can get back to glory in 2019.
8. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Much like many guys on the Browns roster in 2018, the firing of Hue Jackson led to a promising future for Chubb. He was four yards short of 1,000 on the year and that was after being in a limited role for 6 games. During those six games, people began questioning Jackson after Chubb took 3 carriers for 105 yards and 2 TDs against the Raiders.
7. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
Analysis: We will see what happens after serving an 8 game suspension this season for kicking and pushing a woman. Despite him being a piece of shit, he is one of the best RBs in football. Brute power and strength plus explosiveness makes him a deadly runner and receiver. He was well on his way to another fantastic season in his second year before getting suspended.
6. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Analysis: Absolute stud. It remains to be seen whether Kamara gets an expanded role or Lat Murray fills the void of the former mentioned Mark Ingram’s role. There is no denying how much an X-factor Kamara is for the Saints. Unfortunately, he doesn’t crack the top 5 just yet simply because the ones who are in that category have something in common…they are feature backs. However, the upside for Kamara is astronomical. He could easily work his way into the top 3 after this season.
5. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Analysis: McCaffrey took a massive step forward in year 2. He was knocking on the door of being the third back to reach the exclusive 1,000/1,000 club along with Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk. He finished year two with 1,965 yards from scrimmage and 13 TDs. He did this with unhealthy Cam Newton for a good chunk of the year. He answered the call of being THE back in Carolina.
4. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
Analysis: Despite the drama surrounding him, there is no denying how talented of a runner Bell is. He is one of the most patient RBs I have ever seen. He has a rare ability to hesitate and anticipate blocking developments before exploding through the hole. Until he proves he can’t do that anymore, there is no way he falls outside of the top 5.
3. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Analysis: Many may criticize the move to not put him number one after the amazing rookie season he had, but ultimately I won’t crown him yet. Teams now have a year of film on him. I also want to see what he does without opponents having to worry about OBJ on the field. His two worst games came during the 4 game stretch without the talented receiver.
2. Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys
Analysis: Contract situation aside, I do believe the Cowboys need Zeke more than he needs the Cowboys. Granted, he is running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. He has been productive for them since day one. Dak needs a suitable run game. Zeke gives them the best option for that vs having a committee or stable. The conundrum I think about is 3-3 without Zeke. However, the three losses also came without Tackle Tyron Smith.
1. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Analysis: Since Sean McVay came to the Rams, Todd Gurley has been the best back in football hands down. The big issue is the arthritis that held him out late last year. That is super worrisome. If he is healthy, he won’t miss a beat.