Running backs in the NFL are quickly becoming a dying breed. The NFL is now a pass-happy league, making it hard to find teams that center their offense around the starting running back.
But, that doesn’t mean I can’t rank the top running backs in the NFL right now, which is what I decided to do.
Note: this list was made given that every running back is fully healthy.
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: When healthy, there’s no better all-around running back in the NFL than Peterson. He has the perfect combination of speed and power, making him the ideal NFL running back.
2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Who would’ve thought a player who didn’t even get drafted in 2009 would end up becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL? Despite missing three games in 2011, Foster still rushed for 1,224 yards and 1o touchdowns. He is also an unsung hero in Houston’s passing game (53 receptions in 2011).
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: There’s no player that meant more to his team in 2011 than Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars offense was completely centered around Jones-Drew, and without him, they would’ve struggled to score more than 10 points each game.
4. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: While Rice is perceived to be more of a receiving running back, he still manged to finish second in the NFL in rushing yards in 2011. His 1,364 yards on the ground and 704 receiving yards make him a true dual threat running back.
5. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: When you look solely at the statistics, Lynch shouldn’t be the fifth-best running back in the NFL. He’s not a true threat in the passing game and has only rushed for over 1,000 yards three times in his career. But, Lynch is without a doubt the hardest player to tackle in the NFL, making him worthy of being fifth on this list.
6. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: Like Ray Rice, McCoy is a dynamic, dual threat running back. His 1,309 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011 are impressive, but he needs to improve his power running game before moving up higher on this list.
7. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: Had he not been injured for the final four games of the 2011 season, Forte would have likely finished third in the NFL in rushing yards. He’s quite possibly the most balanced running back in the NFL, as he rushes for over 1,000 yards and records at least 50 receptions almost every season.
8. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: It seems like Steven Jackson has been disappearing over the last few seasons, doesn’t it? Don’t forget Jackson, though, as he still rushed for 1,145 yards in 2011 despite playing for the second-worst team in the NFL. In fact, Jackson has rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season since 2005. Now that’s impressive.
9. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: Just like the previously mentioned Steven Jackson, Frank Gore is one of the most consistent running backs in the NFL. He’s had over 1,000 yards in all but one season since 2006. The only season he didn’t get 1,000 yards was 2010, when he had 853 yards. Granted, he only played in 11 games that season.
10. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: A couple of years ago, Johnson would’ve been second on this list behind Adrian Peterson. But, his numbers have greatly dropped since his 2009 “CJ2K” season and he’s shown no sign of returning to that form.