4 weeks remain until the start of the regular season and we are at the position that has supposedly been getting less and less important. Emphasis on supposedly. While there could be a legit argument made when it comes to the past super bowl winners haven’t had elite running play. When it comes down to the biggest stage, it seems like teams really heavily on defense, coaching and of course QB play. Even when looking at this list I made, these RBs aren’t on the teams people consider super bowl contenders, but they do make a huge impact on their respective teams.
Honorable Mention: Saquon Barkley & Ezekiel Elliot
The hardest part of making this list wasn’t the order, it was who was getting left off. As a huge Barkley fan, I just need to see a repeat of the RB we saw coming out of Penn State. This last year he played 13 games but finished with a hundred fewer carries than his career-best rookie season. Barkley has battled with injuries along with inconsistent QB and offensive line play. If he can stay healthy, Barkley is a top 5 running back so hopefully, he gets back to that.
Now for Elliot, it’s a little different. He has suffered a little bit from the injury bug, but he still has been pretty consistent when it comes to suiting up. The other difference is Elliott’s team may have already found his replacement in Tony Pollard. Pollard is younger and cheaper which Jerry Jones prefers. If Both Barkley and Elliot are healthy, and get a normal workload they are both still elite running backs in my eyes.
10. Austin Ekeler
Ekeler is an underrated dual-threat back that I expect to have a big season this year. He finished last season with over 1500 yards and 20 TDs and he could be featured even more with the Chargers on the rise.
9. Aaron Jones
Aaron Jones will be looking to bounce back after a down year last year, and the Packers will rely on him heavily without Davante Adams there. Although, Jones is similar to Zeke when it comes to having his possible replacement breathing down his neck in young running back AJ Dillon, he will still carry a heavy workload. Compared to the year before, Jones played 1 more game, had 30 less carries and 300 less yards. I believe that Joneswill have a season similar to that of two years ago rather than repeating last year’s performance.
8. Joe Mixon
Mixon is coming off a career high in both rushing and receiving yardage so this ranking isn’t about having a knock on Mixon. The players ahead of him just have a right to be in their position as well. Mixon may have been slightly overlooked as the Bengals made a run to the Super Bowl because of the instant success of the young studs in Burrow and Chase. At 26 years old Joe Mixon is in the middle of his prime and should have another strong season behind a hopefully improved offensive line.
7. Najee Harris
Is it to anyone’s surprise that an Alabama running back came into the league and fit right in on day one? I surely wasn’t. Harris is a big physical back who ran for an even 1200 yards in his rookie season. His workload will be the same if not more with his team still having battles at the QB position. Some say I am too high on Harris, but I think he will prove doubters wrong.
6. Alvin Kamara
Kamara would be higher on this list if it wasn’t for a possible upcoming suspension. Rumors are it could be around six games, but nothing is official yet. Kamara is one of the hardest players to tackle as his style seems a bit “slippery”. Surprisingly
5. Christian McCaffrey
When healthy, is one of the most electrifying players in the league. The problem is, we haven’t seen thatg since 2019. I was tempted to put him on my honorable mention with Barkley, but because of their play styles, I have a little more faith in CMC bouncing back.
4. Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook has been consitent in these last 3 years including a 1900 yard season the year before last. He is another dual threat back who hasn’t had to miss to many games since his rookie season. The Vikings offense is still loaded, but Cook will produce.
3. Jonathan Taylor
At 23 years old, Jonathan Taylor is already one of the best running backs in the entire league. Coming off of an 1800 yard season with 18 TDs, there is no denying his greatness. The Colts may pass a little more often than last season but Taylor is still the focal point of that offense.
2. Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb and Jonathan Taylor is really a coin toss decision, but I chose to give Chubb the number 2 spot. Chubb had 600 less yards, but he also had Kareem Hunt sharing carries with him. With Hunts recent trade request, we could see Chubb put up much greater numbers.
1. Derrick Henry
Was there any way he wouldn’t take the top spot? Henry is absolutely dominant. He was still leading the league in rushing for multiple weeks after his foot injury and w on pace to break the NFL single season rushing recotd. Or at least hit 2k. With questions all over the field for the Titans, Henry workload maybe even heavier and that is saying alot.