We are getting closer and closer to the kickoff to the 2020 season. I can almost hear the bad calls, smell the popcorn and taste the beer now. Today, I will run through the top 5 running backs, as I lead up to my preview of all 32 teams.
I know that the league has became a passing league. Receivers and quarterback protected, rules to give the pass game the advantage and running backs under valued and under paid. This season though, this season the running back position is deep, talented and is going to bring excitement back to the run game.
The top 5 though, they are in a class of their own and possibly the best top 5 this has seen or seen in years.
Here you go…
5. Saquon Barkley (277 rushes for 1,003, 4.6 ypc and 6 TDs)
If this doesn’t tell you how talented the top 5 is, then nothing will. That’s right, Saquon Barkley is the fifth best running back going into the 2020 season. Injuries kept Barkley limited what he was able to accomplish in 2019. If there was ever a knock on Barkley, it would be his health. This is part of the reason I couldn’t move him any higher than the fifth spot, too many uncertainties on whether he will play a full season or not. If so, then watch out. Barkley has a lot to prove and doubters to shut up.
4. Ezekiel Elliott (301 rushes for 1,357, 4.5 ypc and 12 TDs)
The Dallas Cowboys are going to be all over the place in 2020. Elliott is working through have COVID-19 as I type, Jerry Jones will be in the spotlight on the kneeling during the National Anthem and Dak Prescott will be focused on beefing up his resume as he still pushes to be the highest paid quarterback in the league. Where does this leave Elliott and the focus of the rest of the Cowboys. Elliott found a way to be more productive in 2019. Doubled his touchdown total from 2018 (from 6 to 12), 78 first downs (second to only Derrick Henry) and he had 972 yards after contact (fourth in the league). As a unit, this Cowboy team could find themselves being Super Bowl Champs, but will contracts, health and national anthem issues cause them to be divided and saying…there is always next season.
3. Christian McCaffrey (287 rushes for 1,387, 4.8 ypc and 15 TDs)
No more Cam Newton to take away from his running opportunities because of his lack of arm and accuracy. With Kyle Allen as their starting quarterback, this should give McCaffrey more touches and the opportunity to be the man in Carolina. In 2019, McCaffrey became the third running back in NFL history (joining Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk) to top 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the season. McCaffrey is third all-time (behind Chris Johnson 2009 and Marshall Faulk 1999) with 2,392 yards from scrimmage. In a tough division, especially with the new look Buccaneers, so playoffs looking real dim, but that doesn’t change the fact that all eyes will be on one of the most exciting backs in the league.
2. Derrick Henry (303 rushes for 1,540 yards, 5.1 ypc and 16 TDs)
This was tough, deciding if Henry was deserving of just the #2 spot or if he should be #1. I feel that I made the right decision. Henry was hard not to cheer for, even if he played your team. He was in pure beast mode. Henry led the NFL in yards after contact in the regular season with 1,268 yards and in the postseason with 337 yards. Henry is the most physical back in the league. Add a big body right tackle like Isaiah Wilson, with the 29th overall pick, and you have Henry break records and take the Titans deep into the playoffs.
1. Nick Chubb (298 rushes for 1,494, 5.0 ypc and 8 TDs)
Chubb was one of the most over looked running backs in 2019. The Browns, Baker Mayfield and O.B.J., with just those three topics, it’s easy to get lost in the shadows. But, those same names, plus a new head coach, Jarvis Landry and a full season with Kareem Hunt, will all be the reasons Chubb is the best running back in the NFL for 2020. Possibly the best duo at receiving, Hunt in the slot and a focused and better shape Mayfield will keep defenses honest and give Chubb a wide open field to do with as he pleases. Last year was his breakout year, this year will be his statement year and will solidify that he belongs on top of this list.