The running back position is becoming more versatile in today’s NFL. Not only are these running backs great running the ball but their skills as pass catchers and route runners are quite incredible. With so many guys displaying their skills and posting such great numbers it wasn’t easy coming up with the 10 best running backs in the NFL.
1: Saquon Barkley, Giants
Barkley’s first season in the NFL was a complete success. He totaled 2,028 yards from scrimmage. 1,307 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 91 receptions, 721 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns. Barkley topped that off by also winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. After seeing Barkley explode on NFL defenses with such a bad team around him it’s very hard to not consider him the best in the NFL right now.
2: Todd Gurley, Rams
All last season I debated with myself about who is the best running back in the NFL, Saquon Barkley or Todd Gurley. If it weren’t for the way Gurley ended the season he would probably be first on the list. Once again Gurley was the workhorse that the Rams needed. He ranked 2nd among all running backs in touches per game, rushing yards per game, and scrimmage yards per game. Monitoring the knee will be important going into 2019. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson will steal some carries from Gurley which will allow him to stay fresh and healthy all season.
3: Le’Veon Bell, Jets
Yes I know Bell missed all of last season, but is that a really a bad thing? Bell is 27 years old and he’s in the prime of his career. Having a year off kept his legs fresh and his body injury free. The last time Bell played a full season he was the best running back in the league. His 2017 season was great, 1,291 rushing yards, 9 touchdowns, 85 receptions, 655 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Sam Darnold and Adam Gase should love their newest addition.
4: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Elliott has been super productive in his first three seasons in the NFL. For his career he’s averaging 101.2 rushing yards per game. He’s ran for more than 1,400 yards twice. If it wasn’t for the suspension he probably would’ve done it three times in a row. Elliott is becoming more versatile as he caught 77 passes last season.
5: Alvin Kamara, Saints
Kamara is a complete back and he’s probably the most versatile player at his position. Back to back seasons with 81 catches and 700 or more receiving yards. He’s posted 700 or more rushing yards in consecutive seasons as well. Kamara posted these numbers while being the second option in the backfield. Now in his third season he will have an incredible season in his lead role for the first time in his career.
6: Melvin Gordon, Chargers
Melvin Gordon is a top five talent at his position when healthy. Health is the only reason Gordon isn’t posting big numbers like the other running backs ahead of him on the list. He’s played one full season in four years in the NFL. Assuming Gordon and the Chargers can get a deal done we should see him have a career year if he plays a full season.
7: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
McCaffrey had an incredible 2nd year in the NFL last season. He finished the year with 1,098 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 107 receptions and 6 receiving touchdowns. Due to his versatility the Panthers are allowed to line him up all over the field. He led his team in almost every offensive category possible. Expect more of this production in 2019.
8: Joe Mixon, Bengals
Let’s be honest here, not too many people expected Mixon to explode the way he did last season. He rushed for 1,168 yards and 8 touchdowns. He averaged 83.4 rushing yards a game last season. First year head coach Zac Taylor and Joe Mixon should be a great duo.
9: Nick Chubb, Browns
Nick Chubb had a breakout year for the Browns last season. Chubb rushed for 996 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also averaged 5.2 yards yards a carry. I expect an even more productive season from Chubb, especially with the additions made on offense this offseason.
10: James Conner, Steelers
Conner is one of the best young backs in the NFL and his numbers can back that up. Conner posted 973 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last season. With Le’veon Bell sitting out an entire season Conner took advantage of his opportunity. His versatility plays a huge role in this Steelers offense. James Conner should have an even bigger season in 2019.
* I do not own rights to any of these pictures used in this post.