While we’re getting ready for the playoffs I thought it would be fun to take a guess at the top 10 running backs for next season. Is it way early to think about this? Yes. Is it worth considering for off-season trade potential? Absolutely. So, for what it’s worth, barring injury, here are my top 10 running backs for 2017.
- Ezekial Elliott, DAL – He’ll be even better next year, I know that’s hard to believe, and will take the top spot away from David Johnson.
- David Johnson, ARI – Even with this offense crumbling around him he still shines. He’s plug and play, though there is a train of thought that says if the offense improves, his stats will decline ever so slightly.
- Le’Veon Bell, PIT – Assuming he doesn’t get suspended…again. Assuming he doesn’t get hurt…again. Assuming Big Ben is healthy too.
- Melvin Gordon, SDC – He’s proven capable this year, that’s for sure. He’s a bit TD dependent sometimes but as he matures I believe that will become less and less the case.
- Jay Ajayi, MIA – Given a full year to create some stats, in Adam Gase’s second year of installing this offense and another year to improve an already very good (but fragile) offensive line, Ajayi will thrive.
- Jordan Howard, CHI – He’s the best player on offense and despite John Fox’s tendencies to want to share the load, he knows his job is on the line next year and will feed Howard all year long.
- Todd Gurley, RAM – This is assuming no injuries, but it also must assume that Jeff Fisher is fired and a competent offensive mind is hired.
- Lamar Miller, HOU – He’s just never going to be what people wish he would be, the next Ladainian Tomlinson, but his floor is pretty darn high. No competition in Houston, he will stay in the top ten next season.
- Devonta Freeman, ATL – Always discounted as too small or too slow, all Freeman had done is racked up over 380 fantasy points in the past 1.5 seasons, more than everyone not named David Johnson. Tevin Colemen will steal some time but as has been the case for a while now, it will not matter to Freeman’s place on this team. He’s got the heart of a leader and they want him out there, he wants to be out there, don’t discount him and get him cheap if you can.
- Leonard Fournette, TBD – While I would stop short of making Fournette the next Elliott, he has all the traits of an elite back and will most likely be picked in the top 10 of the draft and be installed as an immediate starter for whichever team chooses him.
Honorable Mentions (otherwise known as, wait…why not this guy?)
- Thomas Rawls – Rawls can be the guy, but hard to see him not sharing time with CJ Prosise and hard to know which one will take the lead at this point
- DeMarco Murray – Will share more of the load with Derrick Henry next year
- Derrick Henry – See DeMarco Murray
- Doug Martin – has been in the top 10 in the past and possibly could do it again, just not at the top of my list
- LeSean McCoy – He just can’t stay healthy for a full year and as much as I hate to admit it, is starting his decline
- Matt Forte – Too old, will not be featured much longer, though is performing at a high level for a 30 year old back this year
- Latavius Murray – Just not elite, though has elite athleticism, hard to see him putting it all together
- Spencer Ware – I think he’s peaked and is what he is, a very capable runner that is not elite in any way, shape or form
- Carlos Hyde – has the skills but next year will be a new team, new coach, new offense, hard to see him jumping from where he is today in that scenario
- Jeremy Hill – will be sharing the load with someone, they don’t trust him to do it himself
- CJ Anderson – Not sure he will even be in Denver next year, though if he is will be sharing time with Devontae Booker
- Eddie Lacy – lol
Too Old and Injured to even Consider (Yes, they’ll both be back next year, but do you REALLY want to bet on these fully utilized, downward spiraling veterans for anything more than RB2/3 duty?)
- Jamaal Charles
- Adrian Peterson