Despite being a “passing league”, the running back position is still very relevant in the NFL. The shift from big bruising power backs to a more athletic type of back is evident with this list. Here are the top-10 running backs in the NFL today:
1. Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Hands down, Bell is a player that is able to do it all out of the backfield. He runs out of the backfield with both finesse and power. His hesitating style makes it hard for defenders to get to him at first touch. He is also willing to line up in the slot and running routes against safeties and backers.
Bell racked up 1,291 rushing yards and nine touchdowns while also adding 86 receptions, and another two touchdowns on 106 targets. He ranked him 10th in the NFL in catches and was only three behind Atlanta Falcons All-Pro receiver Julio Jones.
2. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Gurley had his best season last year, finishing the year with 1,305 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns to go along with 788 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns. After a down 2016 season, Gurley had a breath of fresh air under new head coach Sean McVay.
McVay opened up the Rams offense and played to Gurley’s strengths and was able to run all the way to being named 2017 AP’s Offensive Player of the Year honors.
3. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
Although Elliott has missed games in each of his first two seasons’, he has been able to emerge as one of the top backs in the NFL. As a rookie in 2016, he led the league in rushing with 1,631 along with 15 touchdowns.
Last season was tumultuous one for Elliott, missing six games due to off-the-field issues but he still managed a respectable season with 983 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. At age 22 and playing behind a strong line in Dallas, Zeke will be amongst the top backs for years to come.
4. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)
Year in and year out McCoy has been getting the job done as a premier running back in the NFL. Entering his 10th season, McCoy looks primed for another breakout year. As the featured back in Buffalo last season, he finished with 1,138 rushing yards and six touchdowns. In 2016, he ran for 1,267 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, putting together two impressive consecutive seasons.
In his nine seasons, McCoy has only missed eclipsing 1,000 yards three times, once in his rookie season where he only started four games and twice in 2012 and 2015 when his season was cut short due to injury.
5. David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals)
After a breakout 2016 season which saw him gain 1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns, Johnson finished the 2017 season with a mere 100 total yards and zero touchdowns due broken wrist he suffered the first game of the season that sidelined him for the rest of the year. He was ranked as the number one fantasy back last offseason and to much of everyones disappointment did not get a chance to showcase why he was touted as such.
Now, Johnson is fresh and ready to roll for the 2018 season and will look to establish himself as the top running back as he was in 2016.
6. DeVonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)
Freeman is in a unique situation in Atlanta. He doesn’t get the rush attempts as most backs on this list get but he makes the most of his opportunities. Freeman finished with just 196 attempts this season and averaged 4.4 yards per carry, ranking him fifth among backs with at least 190 carries. One unique stat for Freeman is that 25 percent of his touches ended in first downs.
Because he shares the backfield with another dynamic back Tevin Coleman, Freeman doesn’t have the stats that scream elite, but his production and what he is able to do with the ball in his hands makes him elite.
7. Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs)
Breaking onto the scene in his very first NFL game, Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown while catching five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns in a win against the New England Patriots. That was just a sign of things to come.
He eventually had games of 172 and 155 rushing yards, which led him to lead the NFL in rushing with 1,327 rushing yards. He is the typical one-cut and go back who has excellent vision and acceleration.
With the creativity of the Chiefs offense, Hunt can continue to rack up rushing yards for years to come.
8. Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints)
Finally establishing himself as a top tier running back last season, Ingram rushed for 1,124 and 12 touchdowns in a pass-first Saints offense. Not only that, but he was in a timeshare backfield with rookie sensation Alvin Kamara and shared the first four games of the 2017 season with Adrian Peterson. Ingram now has back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons for the first time in his seven-year career.
With the way the Saints offense is constructed, Ingram’s legs should stay fresh and he should be able to crack 1,000 yards again this season given the touches.
9. Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)
Talk about taking the league by storm. That is exactly what Kamara did in his rookie year last season with the Saints, running for 728 yards and had 81 receptions for 826 yards to go along with 14 total touchdowns. He is the perfect back for the Saints pass-happy offense as he can be moved to the slot position.
As the game changes to more pass heavy, each team will need an every-down back who can run between the tackles and understand the concept of route running a guy like Kamara.
10. Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers)
Often times, Gordon’s name is not brought up when it comes to best backs in the league but, his stats say otherwise. In each of his three seasons, Gordon progressed and looks to only get better. He reached 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career in 2017 after missing the 1,000-yard mark by just three yards in 2016.
Now Gordon is comfortable in the Chargers offense and has seemed to find his grove within the system. With Philip Rivers getting up in age, it is wise to save his arm and utilize the running game more. When Gordon is fully healthy, he can be a legitimate threat out of the backfield.