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While the NFL has become a pass-heavy league, in no way does that mean the run game has been forgotten. The NFL currently boasts a group of running backs that promise to be generational players. The one question that NFL fans and analysts seem to have trouble answering is who the best is. In this article, I plan to clear up the confusion regarding the RB hierarchy.
Although it may vary depending on who you talk to, most people can agree that the top five RB’s in the NFL are, in no particular order, Alvin Kamara (NO), LeVeon Bell (NYJ), Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), Todd Gurley (LAR), and Saquon Barkley (NYG). So, let’s break down each player’s game and come up with a proper list of these players.
5 – Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)
Alvin Kamara is truly a special player. He’s been somewhat held down by having to share the backfield with Mark Ingram, but, now that Ingram is with Baltimore, this year promises to be Kamara’s best yet.
He’s known for his game-changing quickness, and pass-catching abilities, but don’t sleep on Alvin’s downhill running either. He’s not just a quick back, he’s a powerful one too. If defenses underestimate his ability to run between the tackles, he’ll make them pay for it.
4 – LeVeon Bell (New York Jets)
After a season-long holdout, LeVeon Bell is back where we want him… on the field. What takes LeVeon a step above Alvin Kamara is the fact that he does everything Alvin does, but a bit better. He was widely considered the best back in the league for a number of seasons in the mid-2010s.
His versatility as a running back who can run inside, outside, and also line up in the slot if you need him to puts him way up into the top five. And, despite the uncertainty regarding his play after a season away from football, Bell is just too good to sleep on.
3 – Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Before you flip out, let me explain myself. Yes, Todd Gurley was absolutely outrageous last season. His combined touchdowns were unrivaled. His play was remarkable. But, Gurley also showed NFL teams why RB’s aren’t paid as much as QB’s or WR’s.
They get hurt too frequently. Right after signing a $14.7 million per year contract, Gurley’s knee arthritis started acting up and kept him out, and limited, during the end of the season, and throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl. So, I still believe that Gurley will be uber-productive this season, but he’s not going to be the best back in the league.
2 – Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
Saquon is an absolute animal. There’s no denying that. He’s an extremely well rounded back who will run all over the field and catch too. Not only that, but he’s got big-play abilities no matter what he’s doing. Giants fans anywhere will tell you that the only reason they kept watching football when the Giants were being blown out the entire season was because they were on the edge of their seats waiting for Saquon’s next big play.
Saquon was so productive last season, that he actually led the league in scrimmage yards, a remarkable feat for a rookie. As good as Saquon looked last season, there’s still someone who’s got a slight edge.
1 Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
Zeke Elliott has been the best back in the league since he was drafted in 2016. And, he’s gotten even better with each season. In fact, the only season he didn’t lead the league in rushing yards was 2017 when he was suspended for 6 games. He’s the perfect back.
He’s big and powerful, but also fast and agile. Many were worried about whether we would ever get to see Zeke’s receiving skills on display, and they got their answer last season. Zeke hauled in a whopping, and team-leading, 77 receptions! Some might make the argument that Saquon Barkley should take this top spot because he led the league in scrimmage yards, but I’d like to shed some light on the topic.
Zeke was actually leading the league in scrimmage yards going into Week 17. However, with a playoff spot clinched, the Cowboys opted to rest Elliott for that game, whereas the Giants, a team playing for nothing but pride at that point, played Barkley the whole game which allowed him to overtake Zeke for the lead.
Well, there you have it, a comprehensive list of the top 5 RB’s in football.
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