NFL Power Rankings: Top 15 RBs Through Week 6
Top 15 RB's Through Week 6
We are currently six weeks deep in the NFL season and there are some new faces emerging on the running back Mt. Rushmore. None of them are anywhere close to the greats of decades ago like Jim Brown or Walter Payton yet, but there are still some very talented ball carriers in the league today.
Some believe that the running back position is dead in the pass-happy league of today, but plenty of runners are proving that to be a misconception. The running game is still alive and well in plenty of cities. Even though the majority of teams have transitioned to a wide open passing attack, there are still some exceptions that prefer to ground and pound.
Fantasy football has made the running back position take on a whole new meaning as fantasy owners look for players who get the most touches or get the bulk of the red zone carries for a team. Running the ball still has the same meaning that it has always been about, wanting it more than the guy trying to tackle you to the ground.
This list is filled with a variety of backs from those who have ridiculous top end speed to those who run like a Mack truck. If there is one thing that can be learned from the NFL today it is that there is no wrong or right way to run the football. Whatever gets the job done is just fine.
There are bound to be varying opinions on just which running backs have been the best up to this point in the 2012 season, but this list ranks the best that the league has to offer, 1-15, through week 6. See a back that you don’t think should have been included or think someone is missing who should have made the list, be sure to comment at the bottom of the page.
#15 Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
Running for the only undefeated team left in the league is a pretty laid-back gig and Turner has been taking advantage of it. The Falcons passing attack frees up plenty of room in the box for this bruiser to get into the second level and run over a few tacklers before finally being hauled to the ground. Turner isn’t as young as he used to be, but he still deserves ‘the burner’ nickname because when he gets into the open field, not many defenders are going to track him down.
#14 C.J. Spiller - Buffalo Bills
An injury to starter Fred Jackson allowed Spiller to get an opportunity and he has made the most of it. His lateral quickness makes him a threat to take it the distance every time he gets his hands on the football. Players should never lose their jobs due to injury, but in 2013, don’t be surprised is Spiller is getting the bulk of the carries in Buffalo.
#13 Willis McGahee - Denver Broncos
This guy has been defying the age barrier normally thought to be the end for a running back. After age 30, McGahee has seemingly gotten stronger revitalizing his career with the Denver Broncos and providing them with quite a diverse offense. While he is approaching the end of his career at this point, he is no where near finished as a productive back.
#12 Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks
Skittles has been an impressive back since coming into the league, but off-field issues have plagued him. This year however, Pete Carroll’s attitude has infected everyone in the Seahawks locker room and the happy-go-lucky demeanor has rubbed off on Lynch as well. He is one of the most reliable backs in the league in terms of production and with Seattle’s conservative approach, Lynch gets plenty of carries. Expect that to continue as the Seahawks look like legitimate contenders the deeper the season gets.
#11 Reggie Bush - Miami Dolphins
Once considered a bust, Bush has finally come into his own as a runner with the Miami Dolphins. He has proven once and for all that he can handle the load as the lead back and even though he isn’t the biggest back in the league, he is still very capable of running between the tackles with a vengeance. After topping 1,000 yards for the first time in his career on the ground in 2011, Bush is on pace to pass his totals from a year ago this season.
#10 Frank Gore - San Francisco 49ers
Since 2006, the only year that Gore didn’t eclipse the 1,000 yard barrier was in 2010 when he missed five games due to injury. Although he is aging, there’s no denying his consistent productivity as he runs with an old-school style, downhill between the tackles. Gore isn’t afraid of contact and he epitomizes the 49ers’ hitting mentality. He has always been a productive receiving option out of the backfield which only adds to his value.
#9 Stevan Ridley - New England Patriots
The backfield for the Patriots was undecided coming into the year, but Ridley quickly took control of the job. Even though the Pats are disappointing some this season, their resurgent ground game has been quite a pleasant surprise. Tom Brady is no longer the only threat that New England has to offer for opponents as Ridley has been exceptional running both between the tackles and out on the edge.
#8 Maurice Jones-Drew - Jacksonville Jaguars
He threatened to sit out and did until midway through the preseason, but once Mojo got back into the mix he was quick to show just how valuable he is to the Jags’ offense. The Jacksonville team really has very little outside of Jones-Drew worth mentioning as the offense pretty much runs through him. While he has been under-appreciated his entire career (mostly due to his diminutive size), perhaps this offseason he can score the big contract that he was after this past year.
#7 LeSean McCoy - Philadelphia Eagles
Shady as he is often called continues to be a tremendous back that is greatly under used by a pass-happy coach in Andy Reid. He does get plenty of touches in screen game as an extension of the running game, but if he were given a consistent workload, who knows what he might be capable of producing.
#6 Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns
Despite preseason knee surgery, this rookie has been as-advertised. This may have been Mike Holmgren’s one great move before getting the axe from the Cleveland Browns when he traded up to secure Richardson in the draft. This kid has the perfect combination of size and speed as well as being a terrific receiver out of the backfield to compile quite a résumé before his career is said and done.
#5 Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings
There were plenty of doubters on All-Day and his health coming into the season off of a torn ACL, but he has been every bit as good as he was prior to the injury. He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has the explosion that everyone was looking for post-ACL injury. At just 27 years of age, expect him to be a terror in the NFC North for years to come.
#4 Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins
Surprise, surprise. Mike Shanahan found another late-round gem to produce huge yards for his offense. This one isn’t named Terrell Davis, but Morris has been doing his best impression thus far this season. He’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry and for a rookie that is awfully impressive. The rookie tandem of he and Robert Griffin III in the Redskins’ backfield will be something to be reckoned with well into the future.
#3 Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens
As one of the league’s most consistent producers out of the backfield during his career, Rice has certainly earned a spot in the top three. Until the emergence of Joe Flacco this year he was carrying the majority of the load for the entire Ravens’ offense. Now his team has diversified a bit and is much more dangerous via the air or on the ground. Rice is also a dynamic receiver in designed screens or as a check down option which gives the team multiple ways to put the ball in his hands.
#2 Jamaal Charles - Kansas City Chiefs
Charles looks as explosive as ever even after his knee injury in 2011. Even on a team with an inept aerial attack like the Chiefs, Charles is able to make room to run with his lateral agility and top end speed around the edge. One could make the argument that he is the most valuable back on this list to his individual team, but there is no arguing just how good he has become as an all-around player.
#1 Arian Foster - Houston Texans
This guy is still the top of the heap in the league as far as runners go and he gets a lot of touches in the Texans’ zone-blocking scheme. Foster is usually all the rage in fantasy football, but he isn’t too shabby in the real thing either. Houston is one of the few run-heavy teams left in the league and there’s no wonder given the production that Foster has put up over the past few seasons. He has 33 rushing touchdowns from the start of 2010 through six games into 2012 and that total will likely only increase as this season moves along.
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