Ranking the starting NFL running backs from worst to first

We are two weeks into the NFL season and plenty of fans have already jumped off their respective bandwagons because of a couple of poor early showings.  The same can be said for players after just a few weeks.  We critique their ability to play the game if they don’t get it done even if we have a very small sample size to work with.  Even though this year’s body of work isn’t substantial it is time for me to rank the best Starting running backs in the league from 32 down to one.

Obviously since there have only been two weeks of action most of how each player is ranked is based on the last few seasons.

When ranking great running backs you have to take a lot of things into consideration, the offense they play in, their rushing style, their ability to block, how they catch the ball out of the backfield and of course their production when the have the rock.

Note: this is not a fantasy football ranking in any way.  It’s not about numbers but overall skill and ability.

32.  Isaac Redman – Redman might only be the starter for a few more weeks and for good reason.  Although he is a solid back he is definitely not starting caliber.  Redman didn’t exactly make a splash as a starter last week carrying the ball seven times for only eight yards.  I fully expect his production to go up but not enough for him to keep the starting job when Le’Veon Bell returns from injury.

31.  Bilal Powell – I was shocked that Powell got the starting spot over Chris Ivory and after two ineffective weeks I’m sure Rex Ryan is rethinking his choice.  Bilal has carried the ball 25 times for only 77 yards as the Jets’ offense has really struggled.

30.  David Wilson- Wilson has a ton of potential but he won’t ever be able show it if he can’t hold onto the football.  Wilson is lucky to have a job today after fumbling the ball twice in a week one loss.  Wilson didn’t play much yesterday after his opening game problems and might not see much action until it’s fixed.

29.  Lamar Miller – Miller earned the starting job with the Dolphins after the departure of Reggie Bush in the off-season but has had a very slow start to the season.  Expect Miller to get more touches and play a little better as the year goes on but not enough to move up this list.

28.  Eddie Lacy – Lacy earned the starting job over James Starks as a rookie and had some nice moments in week one before a brutal hit led to a concussion early in week two.  Lacy is a big powerful back that will get plenty of chances to help Green Bay when he gets back on the field.

27.  Pierre Thomas – Thomas splits time with a couple other backs in New Orleans but gets the job done when it’s his turn.  Thomas hasn’t touched the ball a great deal yet this season but is averaging more than five yards a carry when he does.

26.  Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is looking for new life with the Arizona Cardinals and appears to have found it.  After his least productive season since his rookie year, Mendenhall has shown signs of bouncing back in his first two games with his new team.  With a solid quarterback and some very talented receivers look for Mendenhall to break the thousand yard mark for the third time in his career.

25.  Daryl Richardson – Richardson earned the starting role in St. Louis after the departure of Steven Jackson to Atlanta.  Although Richardson hasn’t had a great two games as a rusher he has averaged almost 90 yards from scrimmage.  I can only see him getting better as the season goes on.

24.  Knowshon Moreno – even though Moreno is going to split carries with Hillman and Ball he is definitely having a good start for Denver this season.  Moreno is averaging 5.5 yards a carry and has already hit pay dirt twice for the undefeated Broncos.

23.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis – in his first season with the Bengals, Green-Ellis had only his second thousand yard season of his career but only averaged 3.9 yards a carry.  Now that the Bengals have a solid young backup in Giovani Bernard don’t expect Green-Ellis to repeat that feat.

22.  DeAngelo Williams – Williams didn’t have the best season a year ago but is already well on his way to a thousand yard year.  Williams has rushed for at least 85 yards in each of the first two weeks of the season even though the Panthers suffered two close losses.

21.  Ahmad Bradshaw – even though Bradshaw wasn’t slated as the starter going into week one he has assumed the role with an injury to Vick Ballard.  Now that the job is his, expect Bradshaw to literally take the ball and run with it.

20.  Ryan Mathews – Mathews has all the gifts to be a great running back in the NFL if he can just harness his remarkable talent.  If he can, the Chargers will be a much better team.  Mathews is poised for another thousand after having a down year in 2012.

19. DeMarco Murray – after a solid rookie season, Murray was bit by the injury bug a season ago and missed six games.  For the Cowboys to return to the playoffs they need Murray to stay healthy the whole season and put up big numbers.

18.  Darren McFadden – if McFadden can stay healthy for the whole season it will be the first.  Even with injury problems, McFadden is a very skilled back.  He showed signs of returning to form in week two when he rushed for 129 yards on only 19 carries as well as catching four passes for 28 yards.

17.  Trent Richardson – Richardson had a solid rookie season as he nearly reached the thousand yard rushing mark and scoring 11 touchdowns on the ground.  He was also impressive as a receiver catching 51 passes for 367 yards and another score.  Although he is off to a slow start in his second year, Richardson has still contributed at least 75 yards from scrimmage in each game.

16.  Maurice Jones-Drew – MoJo is coming off the worst season of his career due to injury and his bounce back year hasn’t started well.  Jones-Drew is still an impressive back but might have a really difficult time showing it on the worst team in the NFL.

15.  Stevan Ridley – Ridley had a breakout season a year ago and is looking for bigger and better this time around.  He has plenty of potential to do that if he gets out of Bill Belichick’s dog house which is where he has been since a fumble in game one.

14.  Frank Gore – Gore has rushed for at least one thousand yards in six of the last seven seasons.  For him to repeat that feat he needs to get it in gear after a horrible start to the 2013 season.  Gore has only rushed for 60 yards on 30 carries during the 49ers 1-1 start.

13.  Steven Jackson – Jackson is looking for his ninth straight thousand yard season and should have no problem doing that as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, if he can stay healthy that is.  Jackson got hurt early in game two and didn’t come back in.

12.  Reggie Bush – Bush has landed on his third NFL team in eight years and should be a valuable assist for the Detroit Lions.  He proved as much in his opening game by rushing for 90 yards and catching four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.  If he has many games like that the Lions will be glad they brought Bush to Detroit.

11.  Chris Johnson – Johnson still talks like he is a dominant running back but his best years are behind him.  With that said, Johnson can still make people miss and look silly doing it.  Johnson will still get a ton of carries and easily reach the thousand yard mark for the sixth straight season.

10.  Matt Forte – Forte has been a great dual threat back for the Bears since 2008 and this year should be no different.  Although he isn’t the first offensive weapon in Chicago, Forte will get plenty of chances to put up huge numbers as the Bears make a push for the playoffs.

9.  C.J. Spiller – Spiller had the best year of his career with the Bills a season ago which has helped him to land the starting job this year over Fred Jackson.  Spiller averaged six yards a carry during his breakout season and is looking for more of the same in 2013.  After a slow start to the season Spiller had a big game two rushing for more than 100 yards on only 16 carries.

8.  Ray Rice – Rice has taken the lion share of the carries in Baltimore for the last four seasons and has hit the thousand yard mark in each year.  This season hasn’t started out as well for Rice or the Ravens but that will surely turn around once he is 100 percent.

7.  Alfred Morris – Morris had a remarkable rookie season for the Redskins after being drafted in the sixth round out of Florida Atlantic.  He rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns on 335 carries.  Even though the Redskins have started out 0-2, Morris has averaged 6.1 yards a carry.

6.  Doug Martin – as a first round pick, plenty was expected of Martin in his rookie season and he more than surpassed all of those expectations.  Martin rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns on 319 carries as well as catching 49 passes for 472 yards and another score.

5.  LeSean McCoy – McCoy didn’t have the best year of his career a season ago but that will be an afterthought following one season under new head coach Chip Kelly.  In just two games McCoy has already amassed more than 350 yards of offense and there is no sign of him slowing down.

4.  Arian Foster – Foster has had three straight impressive seasons and even though he has had a slow start there is no doubt that number four is on the way.  Foster rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns on 351 carries as well 40 catches for 217 yards and two more scores.

3.  Jamaal Charles – the Chiefs have started out 2-0 this season and Charles is one of the reasons why.  He has already scored two touchdowns and registered more than 200 yards from the line of scrimmage.  In 2012 Charles rushed for 1,509 yards and five touchdowns on only 285 carries to go along with 35 catches for 236 yards and another score.

2.  Marshawn Lynch – Lynch had by far the best statistical season of his career last year and has picked up right where he left off a season ago by rushing for just under 100 yards and two touchdowns in week two.  During the 2012 season, Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns on 315 carries as well as catching 23 passes for 196 yards and another score.

1.  Adrian Peterson – I’m sure this comes as a shock to know one after the extraordinary season that Peterson had a year ago.  Being only six months removed from a horrible ACL injury, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns on an astounding six yards per carry.  He also caught 40 passes for 217 yards and another score.  Even though the Vikings are 0-2, Peterson has rushed for just under 200 yards and two scores.

 

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