This is the spot in which I say something generic about this being offseason/work stoppage filler that is completely subjective and is technically completely arbitrary. But it’s fun, and I’m the boss of this blog. So several days after doing our initial quarterback power rankings, here’s a look at the top 10 running backs in the game right now. These rankings are based mainly but not solely on recent events, so please keep that in mind while you read and criticize.
- Looking at this list, it’s amazing how many good tailbacks come from bad teams. And it’s amazing how many good teams don’t have top-tier backs. This isn’t a new revelation, but it really stands out in situations like these.
- No Michael Turner, Steven Jackson or Frank Gore. Those guys only make other lists like these because of their names. None have been very good recently. Deal with it.
1. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
I realize that some might consider it to be illegal to put a non-every-down back at the top of a list like this, but we really wanted to emphasis yards per carry, and Charles is on a near-record-setting pace in that category. In 2010, he had fewer carries than everyone on this list except Darren McFadden and LeGarrette Blount. Still, he finished second in the league with 1,467 yards on the ground. Think Charles’ 6.4 yards per carry is a fluke? His average over his three-year career: 6.0. Pretty fantastic.
2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Foster wasn’t only the league’s leading rusher in 2010, but he also accumulated 604 receiving yards on 64 receptions. He also led all running backs with 16 rushing touchdowns. Amazing considering he wasn’t even drafted and emerged from the slums of Houston’s depth chart.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
MoJo loses some points for starting 2010 slowly and finishing with just five rushing touchdowns, but he turned it on in November and actually gained some MVP steam by the time we hit the home stretch. He had six straight 100-yard games between Week 8 and Week 14, and he did it all with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
CJ2K’s 2010 numbers only look so disappointing because of what he did in 2009. He was without a doubt the league’s most dangerous back after 2,006 yards in ’09, but he still managed to finish fourth in the league in rushing while the Titans struggled this past season. His receiving yards and his overall average took major hits, but Johnson still managed to score 12 touchdowns while once again starting all 16 games.
5. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Although he’s lost some spring in his step recently, AP has still been a model of consistency during his four-year career. His average has fluctuated between 4.4 and 4.8 over the last three seasons, and he’s managed to stay relatively healthy. The 26-year-old has also been a more effective receiver and it appears as though he’s finally fixed the fumble problem that plagued him in ’07, ’08 and ’09.
6. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Although he finished way down in the 14th spot on the rushing yards list, I have no problem putting McCoy sixth on here. In fact, I was tempted to place him higher. I love this guy. He’s an electric playmaker who can take it to the house at any point in time. His 5.2 average was great, but even more impressive was McCoy’s impact as a receiver. He led all running backs with 78 catches. And he’s only 22 years old.
7. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Rice is sliding. His 2010 season was disappointing — he carried it 53 more times and finished with 119 fewer yards than he had in 2009. He also saw his receiving numbers drop slightly, and scored fewer times. I’m thinking it was just an off year, because it would be a shame if Rice were to start running out of gas at the age of 24.
8. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns
It’s hard to believe how quickly Hillis became one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. The 2011 Madden cover boy was a bit slow at the start and end of the season, but he was one of the hottest backs in the game between Week 3 and Week 14. In the end, he finished his first season in Cleveland with a 4.4 average, 477 receiving yards on 61 catches and a total of 13 touchdowns. My biggest concern: Hillis lost five fumbles in 2010.
9. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
The former No. 4 overall pick has finally arrived. After struggling in his first two seasons, Run DMC had 1,664 rushing/receiving yards in just 13 games in 2010. McFadden’s 5.2 average established him as the clear-cut No. 1 back in Oakland, and he’s only 23. The future’s bright.
10. LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s a chance Blount’s superb rookie season will go down as the apex of his career, because there’s a belief that he can’t handle anything close to a full load. While I’m not sure I agree with that assessment, I wouldn’t be shocked if Blount’s stats regressed a bit in upcoming seasons. Regardless, he had 1,000 yards in 2010 despite starting just seven games. The guy was also a highlight machine. He’s one of the one explosive and exhilarating offensive players in the game.