Superstar running backs are everywhere but which one would you want on your squad… I’ve ranked the top 10 backs leading into the new season based on their personal skill sets, the situation and offence they play in and what the new season may hold for them and their team. What do you think ?
1 ALVIN KAMARA (New Orleans)
Situation, versatility, skill set, talent. Kamara has it all working for him. With Mark Ingram departed for Baltimore, Kamara now gets the chance to take on the entire workload in a system built for offensive supremacy.
Kamara only ran the rock 194 times last season but 14 of those carriers were for touchdowns. His real weaponry is exploited in the passing game with Drew Brees hitting him in stride and allowing him to make people miss. Kamara has had 81 catches in each of his first two pro seasons.
Expect his receiving numbers to rise slightly and his rushing attempts to rise by almost 100% and the running back with the bull ring in his snout will be running rings around defenders all season long.
2 Le’VEON BELL (New York Jets)
The Juice is back! Make no mistake, Lev Bell will be back with a vengeance, this time lighting up MetLife Stadium in America’s biggest market. Young QB Sam Darnold will be better for last season’s experience and he gets a security blanket with fresh legs in Bell.
Injury and suspension has halted Bell somewhat but his best is as good as any with his patient, unique running style and ability to effectively play as a WR in the slot and opposed to slower linebackers. I expect Bell to have 400+ touches in his first season wearing Green.
3 SAQUON BARKLEY (New York Giants)
You get the feeling Barkley has the chance to be special. It’s almost like him wearing a gold jacket on the steps of Canton is already a foregone conclusion.
Barkley’s rookie year was phenomenal under trying circumstances. Their QB played poorly, the coach got axed and the superstar receiver played himself outta town.
Still, Barkley excelled, amassing 1,307 yards at five yards per carry plus 721 receiving yards on an amazing 91 catches. On a poor offensive team, he still scored 15 times.
IF Daniel Jones is the Giants future quarterback, he and Barkley could form a formidable combination.
4 MELVIN GORDON (Los Angeles Chargers)
Gordon is after a new contract and he should get one because he’s an integral piece of the Chargers offensive unit. After a scoreless rookie campaign, Gordon has thundered into the end zone 38 times in his past three seasons.
Gordon has only surpassed 1k rushing yards once in his brief career but each of his past three years have resulted in more than 400 receiving yards, so he’s a legitimate option in the passing game.
Gordon is in the sweet spot for a RB (age 26) and benefits from an offence with various weapons and a crafty QB.
5 JOE MIXON (Cincinnati)
I’m not exactly a Bengals fan but I do have some bias towards them so perhaps listing Mixon at five is a shade high. I do, though, see plenty of Le’Veon Bell in Mixon with his unique running style and ability to catch passes around the line of scrimmage and turn them into first downs.
In 14 games last season, Mixon logged almost 1,200 rush yards and nearly 300 receiving yards. Andy Dalton’s play was substandard last season and WR AJ Green missed considerable time through injury, meaning Mixon was forced to do more with less help. With improvement across the entire offence, an offensive focus from new coach Zak Taylor and continued growth from Mixon, he should be north of 1,500 scrimmage yards this season.
6 DALVIN COOK (Minnesota)
I’m high on Cook because of his versatility and the system he is in.
A torn ACL interrupted his progress before a torn hamstring got in the way last season but week 15 versus Miami saw him show his true ability. He peeled off 136 rushing yards and two TD. In four games as a rookie he averaged close to 100 rush yards and whilst his receiving skills are yet to be fully unveiled, those who know say he’s a true dual-threat RB. Strong QB play from Kirk Cousins will aide Cook significantly.
7 EZEKIEL ELLIOTT (Dallas)
Obviously, Elliott’s talent and impact have him vying for the top spot but he’s currently absent from team activities and has threatened a Le’Veon Bell-style holdout unless he gets the new contract he desires.
When on the field, Elliott eats up. Elliott has 34 total scores in 40 career games, rushed for a league-best 1,434 yards last season and caught 77 passes.
Zeke’s talent is undeniable but he’s had more than his fair share of off-field issues and this latest one sees him potentially miss the entire year. Over to you, Jerry…
8 CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY (Carolina)
Run CMC carried the rock 219 times last season but with uncertainty surrounding Cam Newton’s shoulder, that number could spike this season. The former Stanford stud has more career receiving touchdowns than rushing, highlighting his versatility. Another 100 receptions looks a foregone conclusion for McCaffrey – regardless of who’s at quarterback and how healthy they are.
9 DAVID JOHNSON (Arizona)
IF Kyler Murray is everything they’re saying he is then Johnson could launch back up the charts as one of the most deadly backs in football.
In a down season personally and for the team, Johnson still managed 10 touchdowns and fifty catches. For new coach and offensive guru, Kliff Kingsbury, launching Murray’s career should be task 1A, however reigniting Johnson as an offensive force should be 1B.
10 JAMES CONNER (Pittsburgh)
In an offence which rightly revolves around QB Ben Roethlisberger, Conner has games where his opportunities and too few. When involved early in games last season, Conner proved to be a powerhouse, not just running the ball but making some moves in the receiving game as well. 2018 produced almost 1,500 scrimmage yards and a handsome return of 13 scores. With Roethlisberger aged 37 and the departure of Lev Bell and Antonio Brown, expect Conner to have a significant and wholesome role.