Running backs captivate some of the best moves and jukes in the game. From their spin moves to their cutbacks, they have the means to make many exciting moves on defenders. Although running backs do not have long careers, they do contribute plenty to a team.
As this list shows, having the best running back does not always correlate to a team’s success. However, having a dominant running back can undeniably make a team better.
7. Alvin Kamara (NO)
A top-three pass-catching back starts off this list. After being targeted 94 times a season ago, Kamara only dropped four balls. With his high target rate, he finished fourth in receiving yards (533) and third in receptions (81) among running backs. Kamara will look to catch another 81 passes in 2020, which would be his fourth consecutive year catching exactly 81 passes.
Although Kamara had a down year running the ball, only rushing for 797 yards and five touchdowns, he is still a dangerous running back. His jukes are among the best in the league, Kamara makes it almost impossible to tackle him in the open field. Kamara looks to improve on his performance in the 2020 season.
6. Nick Chubb (CLE)
The runner up for the rushing title takes the sixth spot. Did anyone run better than Chubb last year? Chubb ran for 1,494 yards even while sharing carries with Kareem Hunt, who returned from suspension in week 10. If it wasn’t for Hunt, Chubb could have easily won the rushing title. He also ranked first in breakaway runs (17) and second in evaded tackles (96).
Since Chubb is sharing his carries with Hunt, this will certainly hurt his rushing yard total, but Chubb is still going to be an elite back this upcoming season. Chubb and Hunt are a fantastic running back duo and could be argued as the best in football.
5. Dalvin Cook (MIN)
One of the most explosive running backs in the league checks in fifth on this list. Cook ran hard all year long. Although Cook missed two games due to a shoulder injury, he still had 1,135 yards to finish tenth. His 86 tackles evaded and 519 yards created both ranked in the top five.
Cook attempts to come into the 2020 season and produce more incredible stats. Cook is solid in the screen game and is a reliable pass catcher for Minnesota. Last year, Cook caught 53 passes for 519 yards, which ranked tenth and sixth among running backs. If Cook manages to stay healthy and play all 16 games, look out for Cook to compete for the rushing title.
4. Derrick Henry (TEN)
This one might come as a surprise, but Henry ranks fourth coming into the season. Even though Henry won the rushing title and ranked third among running backs in yards/attempt (5.1), Henry struggled in the first half of the season. In the first nine games to begin the 2019 season, Henry only had one 100 yard game. In those nine games, his rushing totals included 44 against the Jaguars, 28 against the Broncos and 63 against the Panthers.
Even after the slow start, Henry still finished as the top running back due to his second-half success. In Henry’s second-half, he failed to reach 100+ rushing yards only twice and ran for over 175+ yards in two of his three playoff games. Henry will look to establish himself as the best running back, looking to win back to back rushing titles.
3. Saquon Barkley (NYG)
Barkley came into his second season and performed exceptionally well even while battling injuries. Barkley did miss three games last season, but despite missing those three games, he produced solid numbers. He still totaled over 1,000+ yards and ranked sixth in yards created (501) and seventh in yards created per touch (1.86).
Barkley enters the season with a new coach, Joe Judge and offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett. From Garrett’s time as the Cowboys coach, he led Demarco Murray and Ezekiel Eliott to three combined rushing titles. Barkley will try to stay healthy and win his first rushing title in 2020.
2. Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)
In 2019, Elliott tried to become the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson to win back to back rushing titles (2006 & 2007). Unfortunately for the Cowboys and Elliott, he fell a bit short. Nonetheless, Elliott still finished fourth in the league with 1,357 rush yards.
Elliott and Barkley are interchangeable at the two and three spot. However, Elliott has a slight edge due to his two rushing titles in four years. As mentioned earlier, Barkley has yet to win a rushing title.
Like Barkley, Elliot will come into the season with a new head coach, Mike McCarthy. Although McCarthy loves his offense to involve a lot of quarterback play, this can somewhat bring the pressure off of Elliott. As a result, Elliott will lessen his carry load, but could mean more efficient runs.
1. Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
Like the quarterback rankings, McCaffrey is indisputably the best running back. He can simply do it all from running to catching the football. A season ago, McCaffrey led all running backs in total scrimmage yards (2,392) and total touchdowns (19). Although McCaffrey is known for his pass-catching, he still rushed for 1,387 yards, which ranked third in all of football.
McCaffrey will look to build on an outstanding season with new coach Matt Rhule. Rhule loves to control the game and run the football heavily as he did at Baylor. Expect McCaffrey to have another spectacular year as he will compete for NFC offensive player of the year.
Honorable Mention: Mixon (CIN), Jones (GB)
Featured Image Courtesy of Complex Original