Top 10 Running Backs For 2018
(plus honorable mentions)
Written by guest writer – Michael Bahramian
I was scouring social media looking for a NFL mind that could tackle such a huge and controversial task. Putting together a top 10 RB list is hard in itself, but on top of that not just the top 10, but based solely on talent alone and not dependent on anything fantasy related. I was looking for someone who could weed out the fantasy aspect and focus exclusively on the player and his talent level. This is where the slate is torn down and rebuilt through a NFL lens only. This article will give you the building blocks as to why the player was ranked where they are. For fantasy purposes it gives you a transparent view at the player and you fill in the scheme, coach, usage, goal line looks, injury, and off filed issues to rearrange them as YOU wish for your fantasy purposes and scoring settings.
- David Johnson – Although he was injured the entire season, in my opinion, David Johnson remains the most skilled RB in the NFL. We’ll have to see if he’s still this good next season, however assuming no rate of improvement at all, rushing for 1200 yards last year with 16 TDs is an elite path to be on for next season. Additionally, he put up almost 900 receiving yards, which surpasses most receivers in the league. His versatility only results in dominance. He will be in his prime next year, so hoping that there are no setbacks from his injury, we are in for a treat.
- Le’Veon Bell – It isn’t wrong to assume that Bell is the best RB in the league. The only reason he hasn’t yet passed David Johnson is simply the eye test. They go neck and neck in stats. David Johnson has had 16 TDs before, as compared to Bell’s 7 last year and 9 this year, but that may only be because the Steelers had more red zone options. Supposedly entering his prime next season, it will be interesting to see just how much better Le’Veon Bell can get. If the Steelers did not have a WR as great as Antonio Brown, Bell might be putting up 1600+ yards per season.
- Todd Gurley II – At just 23 years old, Gurley has already made a name for himself as one of the best RBs in the league. He is explosive and just amazing to watch on the field. The dynamic duo of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley led the Rams to win the NFC West at 11-5; something most did not expect of them. With 1300 yards this year, along with 13 TDs, Gurley has as good of a chance as any to grow into the undisputed best RB in the NFL.
- Ezekiel Elliott – Though he only played 10 games this year, he still put up nearly 1000 yards, which is about 100 yards per game. He was on pace to match his 2016 achievement of 1600+ rushing yards, which is spectacular. His 3rd and 4th down conversion rates are like none other. Like Gurley, Elliott is still very young. If he was a bit faster, he would be the best RB in the league already. However, if he can use his strength and consistently maintain these stats for the next couple of years, then he may as well end up being one of the greatest RBs of all time.
- Mark Ingram – Putting up 1100 yards while sharing running duty with Kamara, as well as sharing offensive yardage with the likes of Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Thomas is tough work. I believe Mark Ingram peaked a little late, as he will be 30 soon, but for now he comfortably sits in the top 5.
- Kareem Hunt – 2017 was Hunt’s breakout rookie year. He proved himself to be an explosive and dynamic option at RB. With over 1300 rushing yards, as well as nearly 1800 scrimmage yards, he displayed incredibly useful versatility. In today’s elite class of NFL RBs, Hunt fights to establish dominance and recognition amongst men of his position. To climb up in the rankings, he needs to stay more consistent throughout the course of an entire season.
- Leonard Fournette – Fournette needs to be more reliable in terms of health. It’s only his rookie year and he seem to be a little bit injury prone. In the 13 games that he did play, he put up over 1000 rushing yards and was just a treat to watch on the field. An elite defensive team like Jacksonville really needs a dominant RB like Fournette to balance out their offensive power so that they can continue to be division winners in the future.
- Devonta Freeman – Freeman has statistically regressed from his previous years as he dropped under 1000 yards for the first time since he’s been a starter. He really does pass the eye test, and his 4.5 yards per attempt backs that up. He plays alongside Julio Jones, so net yard gain will naturally come harder. If he was on a team with a poor receiving core, he’d easily be putting up 1200+ rushing yards every season.
- Jordan Howard – It was another great year for the sophomore. Though he did have 200 less yards in more games played, he still showed to be a reliable option on the ground. Chicago does not currently have the best QB and receiving combo, so naturally, they’d be using their running game often. Regardless, Howard is definitely a great asset for them to have going forward.
- Melvin Gordon – Melvin Gordon is getting better every season. The 24-year-old managed to put up 1100 rushing yards and almost 500 receiving yards to go with it. Along with an above average offensive roster, Melvin Gordon will look to continue getting better and help the Chargers get into the playoffs next year.
11-15: Alvin Kamara, LeSean McCoy, Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde, Marshawn Lynch.