For the next couple of months, I will be breaking down the top 5 players at every position on offense and defense heading into 2018. This week I’ll be sharing my list of the top 5 NFL RBs.
- Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s a tight contest between the top 3 guys on this list, but I’ll give Bell the edge due to how much the Steelers relied on him last season. Bell averaged 20 carries and five receptions a game which translated to 1,946 total yards, and 11 total touchdowns. The fact of the matter is Bell has the most unique style of running in the league, that allows his offensive lineman to create holes for him and keeps linebackers constantly guessing where to go. Pair that running ability with hands that rival any receiver in the league, and you get the most valuable non-QB offensive player in the league. Bell is currently a free agent and won’t come cheap, but I believe whichever team coughs up the dough will be happy with their investment.
- David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
A wrist injury made Johnson miss all but one game in 2017, but I expect him to return to his elite form next year. Much like Bell, Johnson is a dual threat back that is just as happy catching the ball as he is running it. Johnson was able to put up 2,118 total yards in 2016, and broke an NFL record by totaling 100 yards or more in each of his first 16 games. Unlike Bell, Johnson is a downhill runner that can both juke and run over defenders with ease. With uncertainty at quarterback, the Cardinals will need Johnson to be at full strength next year, if they are to have any shot at winning the revitalized NFC West.
- Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Elliot had a strange 2017 season, due to the fact no one was sure when his six game suspension would take place. The off-field drama didn’t seem to effect his on-field performance however as he put up 1,252 total yards and nine touchdowns in the 10 games he was aloud to play in. Like the two guys above him, Eliot is a talented all-around back who doesn’t have a glaring weakness in any part of his game. His combination of speed and strength at the running back position is unrivaled in the league, and can be seen every time an unfortunate defender tries to tackle him in the open field. If Elliot dominates in 2018 he might just make a case for top RB in the NFL.
- Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
After a disappointing sophomore season, Gurley exploded in 2017 for 2,093 total yards and 19 touchdowns. Head Coach Sean McVay was able to get the most out of Gurley as both a runner and a receiver by incorporating brilliant schemes that allowed his running back to use his athleticism. LA now posses a glowing young duo in Gurley and QB Jarrod Golf that should lead to plenty of playoff appearances for the once mediocre Rams. Gurley nearly won MVP in 2017, and with the team and coach’s he has around him, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s in that conversation again next year.
- Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
There were plenty of RBs that I considered for the last spot such as LeSean McCoy and Devonta Freeman, but I decided to go with the future of the Jacksonville offense Fournette. His 3.9 yards per carry in 2017 might not be overly impressive, but he was able to put up 1,040 rushing yards and ten total tds as the focal point of the Jaguars offense. Fournette also had to deal with a shaky offensive line and a below average quarterback, making his production even more impressive. Opposing teams often made stopping Fournette the key to their defensive game plan last year, and with QB Blake Bortles signing a three year extension this off-season I don’t expect that to stop.