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  • Devan Flint

My Top 25 NFL Running Backs

Updated: Aug 24, 2020


1. Christian McCaffrey

2019 stats – 16 games

4th in Carries, 287

3rd in Rushing Yards, 1,387

3rd in Rushing Touchdowns, 15

T-4th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.8

4th in Yards Per Game, 86.7

T-5th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 31

T-35th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 1.8

T-17st in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 16

1 Fumble on 403 Touches

1st in Touches, 403

1st in RB, 8th in Total in Targets, 135

1st in RB, 2nd in Total in Catches, 116

1st in RB, 28th in Total in Receiving Yards, 1,005

1st in Scrimmage Yards, 2,395, 615 more than 2nd

T-1st in Total Touchdowns, 19

Christian McCaffrey is in my opinion the best running back in the league, primarily down to his ability to be a team’s number one running back and receiver. In 2019 he beat his own record of most receptions by a running back in NFL history and became the 3rd player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. While he may not be the best pure rusher in the league, he is definitely in the top 4 but his ability to be an elite receiving threat is what truly separates him from the other elite backs in the NFL. Additionally, the concern that exists with almost every running back, health, does not appear to affect McCaffrey, who had 403 touches in 2019 and stayed healthy the entire year. Potentially the most impressive part of McCaffrey’s incredible year was that he had 3 different quarterbacks under centre who totalled only 17 passing touchdowns to 21 interceptions as well as an offensive line that ranked 17th in Pro Football Focuses rankings. McCaffrey really put the team on his back and showed out.

2. Derrick Henry

2019 stats – 15 games

1st in Carries, 303

1st in Rushing Yards, 1,539

T-1st in Rushing Touchdowns, 16

1st in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 5.1

1st in Yards Per Game, 102.7

1st in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 42

T-1st in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 3.2

3rd in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 29

Derrick Henry’s 2019 play-off run was record breaking and unbelievable to watch. He was the 1st player in NFL history to post at least 170 rushing yards in consecutive career playoff games. Henry also has 561 rushing yards in the playoffs. No player has ever gained as many in his first four playoff games in the modern era. Despite his success, Henry’s historical post-season run overshadowed his immense success in the regular season. He finished 1st in almost every relevant statistic and on course to the AFC Championship he set an All-Time record for the most rushing yards in an 8-game stretch in NFL history, from Week 10 he rushed 203 times for 1,273 yards, 11 touchdowns and averaged 6.27 yards per carry. Additionally, the idea that he is not an elusive or agile runner is also incorrect as according to Pro Football Focus since 2017 Henry’s 136 total missed tackles forced on the ground are 13 more than any other running back proving that he has the ability to not only run through you in the open field but also to make you miss. What’s additionally impressive about Henry is that even whilst being a high volume back like Zeke he averages 5.1 yards per carry, which really proves Henry’s ability to beat down defenses almost making them not want to tackle him. It’s because of these factors that I believe Henry is the best pure runner in the NFL but until he improves in the passing game, he will not be able to eclipse McCaffrey.

3. Nick Chubb

2019 stats – 16 games

3rd in Carries, 298

2nd in Rushing Yards, 1,494

T-8th in Rushing Touchdowns, 8

T-2nd in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 5.0

2nd in Yards Per Game, 93.4

2nd in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 39

T-3rd in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 3.0

T-1st in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 32

Nick Chubb is criminally underrated in my opinion, with exception to Derrick Henry there was no better runner of the ball in 2019 than Nick Chubb. Chubb finished the 2019 regular season 45 yards behind Henry with a significantly worse run blocking offensive line, Pro Football Focus ranked the Browns offensive line 24th compared to the Titans who ranked 6th. Further, while the Titans offense was ran through Henry, the Browns could not find any real consistency with their offensive philosophy or system with Freddy Kitchens at Head Coach which led to Chubb being underutilised. Chubb is the perfect package of size, speed, balance and natural rushing instincts. He can really do it all with the ball in his hands. He has 18 runs of more than 20 yards over the past 2 years which is 2nd to only Barkley, 3 more broken tackles than any other rushers over the past 2 years and breaks them at the best rate of any back with more than 300 carries in the last 2 years. Chubb also leads the league in missed tackles forced since 2018 in the regular season with 110. In my opinion the only reason he isn’t widely regarded as the best runner of the ball is down to Derrick Henry’s record-breaking season and how often the Browns put the ball in his hand in 2019. However, if new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski brings over the same offensive system which saw only the Ravens pass the ball on a lower percentage of downs I believe 2,000 yards is on the cards for Chubb in 2020.

4. Saquon Barkley

2019 stats – 13 games

18th in Carries, 217

15th in Rushing Yards, 1,003

17th in Rushing Touchdowns, 6

T-6th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.6

9th in Yards Per Game, 77.2

8th in Targets, 68

11th in Catches, 52

9th in Receiving Yards, 438

9th in Yards Per Reception with over 50 Receptions, 8.4

9th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 27

T-5th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.8

T-17th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 16

If you have Barkley higher on your list you won’t got much dispute from me, I believe Saquon is the most talented running back that we’ve seen in a long time. The only reason I have Barkley at 4 is his style of play, understandably he wasn’t playing behind the greatest offensive line, but neither was Chubb or McCaffrey and while Barkley can score from anywhere on the field with his home run hitting ability, he also has an awful lot of 0, 1 or 2 yard rushes. When you take away his longest run in each of his games in his rookie and second year, he averaged 49 yards per game as a rookie and 50 yards per game as a sophomore, which in my opinion shows that he doesn’t establish the run and he doesn’t beat a team into submission between the tackles like a Henry, Chubb or Zeke. He is an elite back, but his run style doesn’t win games the way I believe Zeke, Henry and Chubb’s do when optimally utilised. While he is by far the better receiver than both Chubb and Henry, neither of them need to be able to be a great receiver for their teams. This is not an indictment on Saquon, I still believe he is the most talented and if I was starting a franchise today, I would likely take him ahead of any running back due to his talent and dual ability but I just don’t believe he is the best at the moment.

In 2019 Saquon Barkley suffered with a high ankle sprain, an injury that often takes between 6-8 weeks to recover from, however, Saquon forced his way back onto the field earlier than he was supposed and in fact only missed 3 games. Saquon has since admitted in an Instagram Live that it was “tough to deal with”. Even with a lingering injury and games missed Saquon was still able to put up solid numbers. Even after his average campaign in 2019 I believe Barkley is still the most talented running back in the NFL he just needs to show it in 2020 when healthy. Barkley partners his perfect speed and power combination with natural vision, elite balance, the ability to cut and juke like no other, as well as being able score from anywhere, he is a big play waiting to happen. He showed this by leading the NFL in rushes over 20 yards in the past 2 years, he also had 11 more total missed tackles forced than any other running back in 2018. I have no doubt that when healthy in 2020 Barkley will have a huge year for the Giants.

5. Ezekiel Elliott

2019 stats – 16 games

2nd in Carries, 301

4th in Rushing Yards, 1,357

T-5th in Rushing Touchdowns, 12

T-8th Yards Per Carry, 4.5

5th in Yards Per Game, 84.8

3rd in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 38

T-17th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.3

9th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 24

Ever since he entered the league Ezekiel Elliott has been widely viewed as either the best or second best running back. However, with the emergence of running backs such as Henry, Chubb, Barkley and McCaffrey as well as Elliott’s slight regression he has fallen down my list. While the stats don’t exactly show a regression anyone who watched Zeke in 2019 could see it. He lost his home run hitting speed and short space quickness. While this may be down to his holdout in Cabo earlier in the offseason it could also be down to his huge usage rate so far in his career. To Zeke’s credit he is an incredibly high volume back who pounds teams into submission instead of exploding past them for big yardage, so with his play style I believe hi durability is incredible valuable as despite his 1.169 carries since entering the league and even after appearing to lose a step in 2019 Zeke put up very good numbers and churned out positive yardage, hence, I would not be surprised to see him have a bounce back year in 2020, especially given the offense Dallas have around him.

6. Alvin Kamara

2019 stats – 14 games 9 started

24th in Carries, 171

22nd in Rushing Yards, 797

24th in Rushing Touchdowns, 5

7th in Yards Per Carry with over 170 carries, 4.7

T-4th in Targets, 95

3rd in Catches, 81

4th in Receiving Yards, 533

6th in completion rate with over 60 targets

T-24th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 19

T-17th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.3

T-3rd in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 29

Alvin Kamara has the best contact balance and small space quickness I’ve seen in my time watching the NFL. The only reason I don’t have Kamara in my top 5 is his workload and injuries in 2019. While his workload may not change in 2020 as Latavius Murray is still present in New Orleans, Kamara will not be playing “On 1 leg… At 75%” in 2020 like he said he was in 2019 on Twitter in early March. Despite being compromised Kamara still showed what has made hi great up to this point in his career, he truly bounces off tackles and has a unique ability to make dead plays alive again, proven by finishing the year with the least rush attempts per broken tackle. Although he is running behind an elite offensive line similar to Zeke, what makes Kamara great is often what he does behind the line of scrimmage or alongside it. Since 2018 his 157 broken tackles as a receiver and runner are 3rd amongst all players, and while his stats have not always jumped off the page due to splitting carries with Ingram II and Murray his play has always done enough talking. Given he is fully healthy in 2020 I am expecting a huge year from one of my favourite backs to watch in the league.

7. Josh Jacobs

2019 stats – 13 games

T-13th in Carries, 242

7th in Rushing Yards, 1,150

T-13th in Rushing Touchdowns, 7

T-4th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.8

3rd in Yards Per Game, 88.5

T-10th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 25

T-5th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.8

8th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 26

1 Fumble

To my surprise Josh Jacobs was great in his rookie year for the Raiders. Jacobs wasn’t just great for a rookie but great for a pro, despite playing only 13 games he lit up defenses and ranked in the top 10 for every relevant stat apart from touchdowns. His 16 games projections would’ve ranked him 7th in rushes with yards over 10 yards, 3rd in rushing yards and 8th in touchdowns. Jacobs also forced 0.3 missed tackles forced per touch which led the league by a large margin according to Pro Football Focus, proving that whilst he is a powerful runner that is incredibly hard to bring down, he can also make defenders miss at an incredibly high rate. Although Jacobs had very little affect in the passing game, he did average 9.6 yards after the catch per reception in 2019, however, it was on a very limited sample size, 20 catches. If the Raiders continue to use Jacobs in the passing game allowing him to develop into a real dual threat running back, I believe the Raiders offense will become increasingly explosive as Jacobs has a natural ability to make defenders miss once the ball is in his hands.

8. Dalvin Cook

2019 stats – 14 games

8th in Carries, 250

9th in Rushing Yards, 1,135

4th in Rushing Touchdowns, 13

T-8th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.5

7th in Yards Per Game, 81.1

62 Targets, 53 Catches, 519 Receiving Yards

4rd in Yards Per Reception with over 40 Targets, 9.8

T-10th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 25

13th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.4

14th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 20

While Dalvin Cook is undoubtably one of the league’s top running backs, possessing natural elusiveness, contact balance and small space quickness. I believe his greatness in 2019 is slightly overrated and he once again struggled to stay on the field. I cannot ignore that Cook ranked well in every major statistical category as well as proving himself to be a great dual threat back but he was playing in a very favourable situation with the 3rd highest percentage of positively graded blocks per rush in 2019, additionally, back-up running back Alexander Mattison was able to have almost identical production. I am by no means saying that Cook is on a similar level to Mattison I am simply saying that in the Vikings 2019 offense regardless of a running backs ability they were going to be productive given the zone blocking system run by Stefanski. Therefore, if Cook can stay healthy in 2020 and show out once again, I would have no argument with him being higher on this list.

9. Aaron Jones

2019 stats – 16 games

15th in Carries, 235

11th in Rushing Yards 1,078

T-1st in Rushing Touchdowns, 16

T-6th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.6

T-10th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 25

T-21st in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.2

T-1st in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 32

67 Targets, 50 Catches, 480 Receiving Yards, 9.6 Yards Per Catch

29 out of 32 running backs with more than 40 targets for catch rate

Aaron Jones similar to Nick Chubb is very underrated, apart from in Green Bay. Admittedly I had him in the mid-teens until I analysed him. Although Jones showed the potential to be a great back in 2017 and 2018, averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 214 attempts, it was only this past year that he was made the number one running back. Jones ranked very well across the board in all stats and finishing 1st in touchdowns and broken tackles is very impressive given he ranked 15th in carries. Further, since 2017 Jones trails only Chubb is Pro Football Focus rushing grade with 100 or more carries. While Pro Football Focus is not the end all in running back ranking it is a good indicator. The only knock on Jones is that he’s not great at forcing missed tackles and doesn’t display the short space quickness and cuts that backs higher in the list do. Despite his great year in 2019 the Packers have a loaded running back room with Aaron Jones, Jamal Williams and 2020 2nd round pick A.J. Dillon. While Jones is the best back in the room, I think it’s likely the Packers will slowly move the load onto Dillon’s shoulders.

10. Joe Mixon

2019 stats – 16 games 15 started

T-5th in Carries, 278

8th in Rushing Yards, 1,137

T-24th in Rushing Touchdowns, 5

16th out of 20 in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.1

11th Yards Per Game, 71.1

7th in Rushes Over 10 Yards , 29

T-17th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.3

T-9th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 24

Joe Mixon just posted his 2-straight season with over 1,100 rushing yards. Mixon is often overlooked due to playing in Cincinnati who are 8-24 over the past 2 seasons, where he has been the only really bright spot on offense and undoubtably their best player. Mixon combines a blend of power and balance at 6ft-1 with his natural Le’Veon Bell like patience behind the line of scrimmage. Between Week 10 and 17 he broke 44 tackles on fewer than 200 touches and averaged over 3.6 yards after contact per rush attempt, Derrick Henry led the league with 3.2 this year. What is most impressive about Mixon’s past 2 seasons is that he has been running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league which Pro Football Focus ranked 30th in 2019 and has still produced at a very impressive rate, just imagine what he would do with an above average offensive line and legitimate passing game. While Mixon may not be a great receiver out the back field like Cook and Kamara, he is definitely better than the likes of Henry and Chubb, he just underutilised given the Bengals have Bernard who is a good receiving back as Mixon’s back up. The only real knock on Mixon is that he is inconsistent and doesn’t possess the home run hitting speed that some of the elite back do, while in 2017 he didn’t show any sign of being an inconsistent runner in 2019 he had 8 games where he averaged less than 4 yards per carry and 4 games where he averaged over 5. While some of that could be attributed to his O-line play some falls on Mixon’s shoulders. With rookie quarterback Joe Burrow under centre in 2020 the offense will once again fall on Mixon’s shoulders to make Burrow’s life as easy as possible.

11. Chris Carson

2019 stats – 15 games

T-5th in Carries, 278

5th in Rushing Yards, 1,230

T-13th in Rushing Touchdowns, 7

T-11th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.4

6th in Yards Per Game, 82.0

4th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 32

T-9th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.6

T-6th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 28

1st in Fumbles, 7

Chris Carson is often viewed as a product of the run first system in Seattle, however that couldn’t be further from the truth and shows how underrated he is. Prior to Carson becoming the lead back in 2018, Russel Wilson was the Seahawks leading rusher in carries and yards and Seattle had 5 running backs all with over 45 carries, and although backs like Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny have had higher yards per carry than Carson in 2018 and 2019 they have not shoulder close to the load that Carson has. In Carson the Seahawks have another Marshon Lynch style running back, Carson is an angry downhill runner who gets better with the more carries he gets. His 3.5 yards after contact per rush are in the top 5 in running backs with 100 0r more carries since 2018 according to Pro Football Focus, and while he is a destructive force with the ball in his hands he is also very elusive, finishing second to only Nick Chubb (110) in missed tackles forced as a runner in the regular season since 2018 with 107. Similar to Russel Wilson what makes Carson’s production even better in the offensive line he runs behind. The knock’s on Carson are in the receiving game and ball security, unfortunately Carson leads the league in fumbles over the past 2 years with 9, 7 of which were in 2019.

12. Le’Veon Bell

2019 stats – 15 games

T-11th in Carries, 245

23rd in Rushing Yards, 789

T-36th in Rushing Touchdowns, 3

20th out of 20 in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 3.2

74 Targets, 66 Catches, 461 Receiving Yards

4th in catch rate with over 40 targets, 89.2%

T-37th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 12

T-25th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.0

T-17th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 16

Bell didn’t come close to living up to expectations for the Jets in 2019 but I believe it was more to do with Adam Gase and his stagnant offense than Bell’s ability. Bell still showed glimpses of the elite dynamic player we were used to seeing in Pittsburgh, but Bell’s game was never as much about being an athletic freak but more about his elite patience, vision and skill set as a receiver. It should also be noted that apart from quarterback Sam Darnold, Bell was the only hope on the Jets offense for productivity, but similar to Darnold being productive was very difficult without weapons around them or an average offensive line. The Jets offensive line finished 28th in Pro Football Focuses rankings and along with Gases’ offense which hasn’t been good since he left Manning, they do explain how Bell was better than his numbers suggest. While the 3 new starters in the offensive line could change life a little for Bell, I think it’s unlikely and we may see a similar year in terms of production in 2020 for Bell.

13. Melvin Gordon III

2019 stats – 12 games 11 started

27th in Carries, 162

31st in Rushing Yards, 612

T-8th in Rushing Touchdowns, 8

T-35th in Yards Per Carry, 3.8

27th in Yards Per Game, 51.0

34th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 14

T-33rd in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 1.9

34th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 8

T-3rd in Fumbles, 4

2018 stats – 12 games 12 started

20th in Carries, 175

17th in Rushing Yards, 885

6th in Rushing Touchdowns, 10

4th in Yards Per Carry with more than 150 carries, 5.1

9th in Yards Per Game, 73.8

10th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 27

T-5th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.7

T-5th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 21

Melvin Gordon had a fall from grace during a humbling holdout year in 2019 which saw his numbers fall off in every statistical category. In 2018 Gordon was arguably a top 5 back with dual threat ability and a perfect blend of elusiveness and power. Gordon led the league in broken tackles between 2015-18 which similar to his ability to force missed tackle didn’t show in 2019, his 28 forced missed tackles on 162 carries placed him in very mediocre company. Although when healthy Gordon has shown that he is arguably an elite back, Gordon has struggled with injuries in back to back years now. Ultimately after holding out the contract he signed with Denver in free agency shows the questions in his health and ability after 2019. If Gordon can stay healthy and return to his 2018 form the Broncos have a great running back on a very good deal.

14. Leonard Fournette

2019 stats – 15 games

7th in Carries, 265

6th in Rushing Yards, 1,152

T-36th in Rushing Touchdowns, 3

T-14th out of 20 in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.3

95 Targets, 76 Catches, 522 Receiving Yards, T-22nd in Yards Per Reception

T-5th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 31

T-3rd in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 3.0

T-17th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 16

Leonard Fournette was a beast in college and has been in a beast in the pros, his hard-nosed powerful running style has made him a formidable force and hard to bring down. Fournette might not be the most efficient running back but he shouldered a big load in 2019 and the Jaguars offense ran through him, making life for rookie quarterback Gardener Minshew a lot easier. Fournette’s role transformed from a two-down to a true three-down back, catching 76 passes for 522 yards. However, as previously mentioned he was not all that efficient, with only 23 of his 76 catches going for first-downs or touchdowns. Fournette has elite straight-line speed that compares well to the NFL’s best, while it is one of Fournette’s strengths it is also his biggest weakness. Fournette has close to no lateral quickness, agility or speed in his game, sure he is a powerful back that can run through you, but he is not going to make defenders miss at the line of scrimmage or in the open field. Jacksonville’s offense will be very similar in 2020 to what it was in 2019 and I expect Fournette will once again see a lot of tread on his tyres.

15. Austin Ekeler

2019 stats – 16 games, started 8

T-34th in Carries, 132

33rd in Rushing Yards, 557

T-36th in Rushing Touchdowns, 3

T-29th in Yards Per Carry, 4.2

2nd in Targets, 104

2nd in Catches, 92

2nd in Receiving Yards, 993

1st in Receiving Touchdowns, 8

1st in Yards Per Reception with more than 25 targets, 10.8

T-30th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 15

T-11th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.5

T-24th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 12

Austin Ekeler is arguably the best receiving back in football and he really showed it in 2019, McCaffery may have led the league in catches and yards but if Ekeler had the elevated usage McCaffrey has he would have finished with more yards. Apart from being one of the best receivers at the position, Ekeler has also been one of the hardest backs in the league to bring down. After joining the Chargers in 2017 Ekeler has forced a missed tackle on 22% of his touches with ranks 4th just behind Dalvin Cook. Ekeler has also proven to be a lot better after contact than his size and stature would suggest. In 2020 he will see the full load of carries as well as targets making him a true 3-down back. If he can withstand the increased load and hits, I believe he could total north of 1,800 scrimmage yards and become a household name.

16. Mark Ingram II

2019 stats – 15 games

20th in Carries, 202

13th in Rushing Yards, 1018

7th in Rushing Touchdowns, 10

T-2nd in Yards Per Carry with over 200 rushes, 5.0

13th in Yards Per Game, 67.9

28 Targets, 26 Catches, 247 Passing Yards, 5 Touchdowns

1st in reception percentage with over 20 catches, 92.9%

T-20th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 21

9th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.6

16th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 18

Mark Ingram has been one half of the best one-two punch in the NFL over the past 3 years. Between 2017-18 Ingram and Kamara ran the show in New Orleans backfield posting record breaking numbers and gaining a lot of media attention. However, Ingram and Jackson were arguably better in 2019 with Jackson juking and spinning his way through defenses and Ingram running in straight down their throats. Despite being part of these great rushing attacks, I don’t think Ingram has got the respect he deserves. At 5 ft 9 he is a powerful hard nose runner but also elusive and agile in the open field. Over the past 4 years Ingram has not averaged less than 4.7 yards per carry and in two of them he averaged 5 or more yards per carry. Ingram also showed in New Orleans that he is a very capable receiver but that is an aspect of the offense not used as much in Baltimore hence the small but great sample size in 2019. Unfortunately for Ingram he is north of the dreaded age 30 and with the Ravens drafting running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round, I wouldn’t be surprised to see carries split and Ingram’s numbers to decrease, but he has shown over the last 5 years that regardless of the workload he remains productive.

17. Phillip Lindsay

2019 stats – 16 games

16th in Carries, 224

14th in Rushing Yards, 1011

T-13th in Rushing Touchdowns, 7

T-8th in Yards Per Carry with more than 200 carries, 4.5

17th in Yards Per Game

18th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 22

35th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 1.8

T-3rd in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 29

0 Fumbles

Two years ago, Phillip Lindsay went undrafted and now he is one of the NFL’s top running backs after posting back to back 1,000-yard seasons in Denver. Although Lindsay may not be the strongest or biggest pound for pound back in the league, he has natural vision and elusiveness as well as elite acceleration which allows him to hit the holes and get into the secondary quickly. Lindsay also finished with the 6th least rush attempts per broken tackle, proving that whilst he might not be the biggest back, he can bounce off tackles and break them for extra yards. Unfortunately for Lindsay the Broncos gave Melvin Gordon a 2-year $16 million deal in free-agency which will likely see his carries split and production decrease in 2020 as well as indicating what is likely the end of Lindsay’s time with the Broncos.

18. Marlon Mack

2019 stats – 14 games 12 started

T-9th in Carries, 247

10th in Rushing Yards, 1091

T-8th in Rushing Touchdowns, 8

T-11th in Yards Per Carry with over 200 carries, 4.4

9th in Yards Per Game, 77.9

8th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 28

T-25th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2

T-24th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 12

0 Fumbles

Marlon Mack is a good running back who is both fast and explosive when hitting the holes, but in my opinion is overrated. He runs behind a top three offensive line and often behind the best guard in the league leading the charge, so a lot of his production comes from great blocks by the offensive line. While he may evolve into the following, he did not show in 2019 to be a powerful back or one that can make defenders miss in the open field or catch out the backfield. While I would like to see how he evolves in the 2020 season, I believe Jonathan Taylor is going to become the Colts lead back and Mack will see his carries and opportunities diminish.

19. Devin Singletary

2019 stats – 12 games started 8

29th in Carries, 152

24th in Rushing Yards, 775

T-49th in Rushing Touchdowns, 2

T-1st in Yards Per Carry with over 150 carries, 5.1

16th in Yards Per Game, 64.6

T-10th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 25

T-13th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.4

T-14th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 20

T-3rd in Fumbles, 4

Singletary had a great under the radar rookie year in 2019, when you take into consideration his limited carries and opportunities Singletary was incredible. Only Derrick Henry had the same yards per carry as Singletary, he forced 42 missed tackles on just 181 touches making him one of the most elusive backs in 2019 and he forced a broken tackle every 7.6 carries ranking the 5th least amount of carries. Singletary might be 5ft 7 and 203 pounds, but he plays a lot bigger, he might not have explosive speed, but he can turn the corner, bounce off and break tackles as well as being incredibly shifty in the open field and small spaces with cuts and jukes. One of Singletary’s best traits is that similar to Ezekiel Elliott he falls forward when being tackled. The only reason I don’t have Singletary higher up on this list is his small load in 2019, overall, Singletary has the make-up to be an elite running back, I believe if he can handle the full load of a lead back he could become a huge breakout star in 2020.

20. Kenyan Drake

2019 stats – 14 games 10 started

T-24th in Carries, 171

20th in Rushing Yards, 826

T-8th in Rushing Touchdowns, 8

T-5th in Yards Per Carry with over 150 carries, 4.8

19th in Yards Per Game, 58.4

T-18th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 22

T-26th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.0

T-24th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 12

Drake had a huge second half of the season which was also the most productive stretch of his career. Whilst in Miami, Drake was efficient but didn’t see enough opportunities or carries. However, In Arizona he got them, in 8 games Drake totalled 643 yards which meant averaging 80.4 yards per game which would’ve ranked 8th and 5.2 yards per carry which would have led the league. Drake doesn’t have jump off your screen explosiveness, but he does have breakaway speed as well as great vision and ball carrier moves. While he had an elite 8 game stretch, I would like to see him do it for a whole year before I rank him higher. However, after a full offseason in Arizona along with a bell cow load, similar to Singletary Drake could emerge as a breakout star in 2020.

21. Todd Gurley

2019 stats – 15 games

17th in Carries, 223

19th in Rushing Yards, 857

T-5th in Rushing Touchdowns, 12

T-17th out of 20 in Yards Per Carry with over 200 rushes, 3.8

20th in Yards Per Game, 57.1

T-20th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 21

T-41st in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 1.7

13th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 21

The big question surrounding Gurley and his future is, ‘is he healthy?’ because when we last saw Gurley healthy he was the best running back in the league for a two-year span, winning an offensive player of the year award as well as being named to 2 Pro Bowls and 2 first team All-Pro’s. Gurley used to be one of the most explosive running backs both on the ground and through the air, however, his ability to be a great receiver was diminished to the extent the Rams hardly used him out of the backfield as a receiver in 2019. Although the Rams offensive line was awful in 2019 Gurley had blatantly taken a huge step back it his athletic ability. I hope that in 2020 Gurley’s knee is back to full strength and we can see him have a season like the Gurley of old in Atlanta’s offense.

22. Kareem Hunt

2017 stats – 16 games

1st in Rushing Yards, 1,327

T-6th in Rushing Touchdowns, 8

T-1st in Yards Per Carry with more than 200 carries, 4.9

4th in Yards Per Game, 82.9

2nd in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 35

2019 stats – 8 games 3 started

43 Targets, 37 Catches, 285 Receiving Yards

6th in catch percentage over 40 targets.

Once upon a time Kareem Hunt was the next big thing in terms of running backs, however, it was his off-field actions that stifled his growth. While he is not the lead back in the Browns offense, he is their primary receiving back. In Cleveland I don’t expect Hunt to put up very good numbers, but he shows flashes in his limited opportunities of the running back that he once was. Hunt has all the tools to be a great runner and receiver out of the backfield. Assuming another team takes Hunt on as their lead back after the Browns I think Hunt could return to his 2017 form if he is still in the same shape.

23. Miles Sanders

2019 stats – 16 games 11 started

22nd in Carries, 178

21st in Rushing Yards, 811

T-36th in Rushing Touchdowns, 3

T-9th in Yards Per Carry with more than 150 carries, 4.6

T-26th in Yards Per Game, 51.1

T-13th in Targets, 62

T-12th in Catches, 50

7th in Receiving Yards, 509

T-27th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 16

24th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.1

T-17th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 16

I think Miles Sanders is a great prospect for Philadelphia, however, I also believe that due to the Eagles miserable 2019 season on offense he has been overhyped by Eagles fans as well as outsiders. He had a productive year and is a very well-rounded running back serving as a true 3-down back. Although he was productive, he was also running behind the highest-graded run blocking offensive line according to Pro Football Focus and he didn’t show the ability to be either a good powerful runner or a good elusive runner, instead he ranked relatively mediocre in broken and missed tackles. Despite this I think because Sanders is so well rounded there is no reason that he cannot grow into a great running back for the Eagles. Given Philadelphia’s running back options one can assume that Sanders will see a bell cow load in 2020 in both the run and passing game, if he can develop and continue to be productive I could see him having north of 1,500 scrimmage yard season in 2020.

24. James Conner

2019 stats – 10 games

38th in Carries, 116

40th in Rushing Yards, 464

T-31st in Rushing Touchdowns, 4

T-32nd in Yards Per Carry, 4

32nd in Yards Per Game, 46.4

T-27th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 16

T-17th in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.3

T-50th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 5

2018 Stats – started 12 games

T-11th in Carries, 215

T-11th in Rushing Yards, 973

T-3rd in Rushing Touchdowns, 12

T-9th in Yards Per Carry with more than 200 carries, 4.5

8th in Yards Per Game, 74.8

In my opinion James Connor is slightly overrated. While no part of the Steelers offense was great in 2019, Connor really regressed from his 2018 Pro Bowl year. Connor is not known to have explosive speed as a runner with the ball, but he is known for his ability to run through tackles. In 2018 his 60 broken tackles trailed only Barkley even though he only played 13 games. However, the fact he only played 13 games is my primary concern with Connor, he hasn’t proven to be durable as of yet and people within the Steelers organisation have reportedly grown frustrated with his inability to stay on the field also. If Connor has a big year in 2020 with Roethlisberger back from injury, I will be pleasantly surprised as his story is one of the best in the NFL, however, after a big down year in 2019 despite the 9thbest offensive line according to Pro Football Focus along with durability concerns, he has fallen down my list. I hope he can prove me wrong in 2020.

25. Raheem Mostert

2019 stats – 16 games 0 started

T-31st in Carries, 137

25th in Rushing Yards, 772

T-8th in Rushing Touchdowns, 8

1st in Yards Per Carry with over 100 carries, 5.6

T-15th in Rushes Over 10 Yards, 23

T-21st in Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush, 2.2

T-24th in Broken Tackles On Rushes, 12

The narrative that Mostert had a great postseason is in my opinion false, he infact had one incredible game which boosted his average numbers.

Vikings, 12 caries, 58 yards, 4.83 yards per carry

Packers 29 carries, 220 yards, 4 touchdowns, 7.59 yards per carry

Chiefs 12 carries, 58 yards, 1 touchdown, 4.83 yards per carry

While this averages out at a very impressive 6 yards per carry it does not tell the whole story. Regardless he did still average 4 yards after contact per rush as well as totalling 17 missed tackles on 53 carries. Mostert didn’t just show this in the offseason though, he did show it in the regular season as well, just in a small sample size. Mostert showed in 2019 that he is an explosive, elusive and powerful runner who is undeniably fast. However, I am very interested in how he will fair outside of Shanahan’s offense and with a bigger load on his shoulders given his trade request. He has shown the signs of a great running back but so did C.J. Anderson in the Rams Super Bowl run.

Stats from:

Rushing Yards Over 10 yards from Pro Football Focus

Rushing Yards After Contact Per Rush from Pro Football Reference

Broken Tackles On Rushes from Pro Football Reference

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