Top 100 Players by Position: Running Backs

Movie Quote of the Day:

“Nobody makes me bleed my own blood. Nobody!”

– White Goodman, Dodgeball (2004)

NFL analysts, experts, players, etc. have been releasing their own rankings for the top players in the NFL. The NFL Network just released their Top 100 that is voted on by the players. Also, Mike Miller at Bleacher Report has been coming out with his own rankings of the Top 1,000 players in the NFL.

I decided to create my own version of this, but I’m going to put it together by position (except punters and fullbacks because nobody cares about them) and it’ll only be 100 players. I’m not even sure I can name 1,000 people that I know in the real world let alone the NFL. I’m also going to add honorable mentions and what I like to call the “Rising Star” of each position. Another thing I added when creating these lists is that the players have to currently be on a team. No free agents.

Today begins the final week of my player rankings. Today’s list involves running backs. Everyone ought to know what’s a running back, and what their job is. I looked for complete running backs when I put this list together, players who make an impact in both the running and passing game, not just running the football. I understand that the position is called RUNNING back, but it’s a different age in the NFL. It’s a passing league now, running backs need to be versatile, and so this list will probably surprise people. Here’s my list:

Rising Star: Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals

2014 stats: 1,339 all-purpose yards, 5.1 yards per carry, and nine touchdowns

Hill

Hill was only a rookie last season and really made an impact toward the end of the season, starting seven of the last nine games. During that time, he had 1,013 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns. He was named to the 2014 All-Rookie team. I was surprised when Cincinnati took Hill in the second round last year, since they already had Gio Bernard. However, now they have one of the best running back duos in the NFL. Hill has a very bright future with the Bengals.

Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

2014 stats: 1,673 all-purpose yards, 4.7 yards per carry, and 17 touchdowns

Lynch

I went back and forth on whether or not to put Lynch in my top five. At the end of the day I couldn’t do it. Lynch isn’t as complete as the other running backs on my list. He’s not known for his impact in the Seattle passing game. Lynch is one of the best in the NFL at running the ball, and is incredibly tough to tackle. Hence his nickname “Beast Mode.” Lynch is a 5x Pro Bowler (2008, and 2011-2014), First-team All-Pro (2012), and Second-team All-Pro (2014). He has 10,594 all-purpose yards and 80 touchdowns in his career. He’s the key piece to Seattle’s success offensively the last few years.

Top 5 Running Backs:

Forte

5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

2014 stats: 1,846 all-purpose yards, 3.9 yards per carry, and 10 touchdowns

Even though he plays for the Bears, I’m a fan of Forte. I just love watching the way he plays. He’s a complete running back that makes his presence known in all phases of Chicago’s offense. In his seven NFL seasons, he has 11,431 all-purpose yards and 57 touchdowns. Forte is also a 2x Pro Bowler (2011 and 2013). Considering Forte’s stats compared to his honors, I think he’s one of the more underrated players in the NFL.

McCoy

4. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

2014 stats: 1,474 all-purpose yards, 4.2 yards per carry, and five touchdowns

McCoy had a significant down year after his 2013 season. Honestly, I don’t expect his production to cget much better since he’s now in Buffalo. Philadelphia’s offensive line is better than Buffalo’s by a mile. McCoy is a 3x Pro Bowler (2011, 2013, and 2014) and 2x First-team All-Pro (2011 and 2013). He also has 9,074 all-purpose yards and 54 touchdowns in his career. McCoy is the shiftiest running back in the NFL. It kills me say such good things about McCoy since he went to college at Pitt.

Charles

3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

2014 stats: 1,324 all-purpose yards, 5.0 yards per carry, and 14 touchdowns

Charles is probably the fastest player on this list; I’d be shocked if he’s not. I considered Charles for the top spot of this list. Charles is a 4x Pro Bowler (2010, and 2012-2014), 2x First-team All-Pro (2010 and 2013), and Second-team All-Pro (2012). Charles has 9,122 all-purpose yards and 57 touchdowns in his career. He has also averaged 5.5 yards per carry throughout his entire career. Charles is an absolute stud, and is the key to Kansas City’s success on offense.

Peterson

2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

2014 stats: 93 all-purpose yards and 3.6 yards per carry

Peterson was suspended for 15 games of the 2014 season due to his child abuse charges. When running backs turn 30 it’s time to look for younger options. Peterson was the NFL MVP (2012); he’s a 6x Pro Bowler (2007-2010, 2012, and 2013), 3x First-team All-Pro (2008, 2009, and 2012), and also 3x Second-team All-Pro (2007, 2010, and 2013). The fact that I didn’t give Peterson the top spot isn’t because of a decline in production. Peterson just turned 30 in March and because I think his best days are behind him. I believe we’ve seen all we’re going to see from him.

Bell

1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 stats: 2,215 all-purpose yards, 4.7 yards per carry, and 11 touchdowns

This will probably shock everyone. Bell has only been in the NFL for two seasons. If DeMarco Murray didn’t have such a great 2014 season, Bell probably would’ve won Offensive Player of the Year. Bell has 3,474 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns in his career. He even missed three games in his rookie season, so his numbers could be better. He also made the Pro Bowl and earned First-team All-Pro honors last season. He’s a big piece to Pittsburgh’s success offensively. Unlike with Peterson, Bell’s best days are in front of him and he has yet to hit his prime. I think he’s currently the most complete running back in the NFL. In my opinion, that makes him the best.

All stats from: http://www.nfl.com/stats/player
Tomorrow: Free Safeties

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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