Running back has so many interesting questions and storylines coming into the 2021 season. Many guys are looking to bounce back from injury. Some are coming off career best seasons. Even a few looking to improve from last season. It is a very interesting position with a lot of talent, which makes this list extremely hard. But here’s who I believe are the top ten running backs entering 2021.
10. Chris Carson
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy will be looking to build on a solid 2020 season. He only rushed for 681 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. Doesn’t seem too impressive at first glance, but Carson did miss weeks 8-11 of the season unfortunately. Those numbers could have looked a lot different with those extra four weeks of carries. If Seattle is able to work as a unit after a somewhat drama filled off-season for them, Chris Carson may play a big part in their success.
9. Ezekiel Elliot
2020 was absolutely a step down for Ezekiel Elliot. He rushed for just under 1,000 yards and his touchdown total was cut in half from 12 in 2019 to just 6 in 2020. However, Dallas really was in shambles following the horrific injury of Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliot was not the only one individual who underperformed. Another step down is hard to imagine for Zeke. Barring another season of unfortunate events for the Cowboys, I see no reason why Zeke is unable to put up the numbers he did two seasons ago.
8. Josh Jacobs
Sophomore seasons are always tricky in any sport. Especially when it comes to running backs. You still have to earn respect, but there are always more things expected of and from you. Josh Jacobs was able to live up to those expectations in his sophomore season last year. The Tulsa native rushed for 12 touchdwowns and just over 1,000 yards last season. Jacobs really strikes me as a player that doesn’t become stagnant with production. I don’t expect another season like last, I believe he’ll be even more improved in 2021.
7. Aaron Jones
It’s always cool to see NFL players that went to smaller and lesser known colleges succeed. Aaron Jones is one of those stories. He actually attended a school that had zero former running backs drafted in the NFL. The former UTEP Miner has been putting on a show in Green Bay for some time now. And last season was no different. While his touchdown numbers did dip from 16 to 9, he was still able to reach that 1,000 yard mark. Which when you play on a team that has Aaron Rodgers as your QB, 1,000 yards is more than doing your part on the season.
6. Saquon Barkley
I wanted to put him higher on this list, I really did. But torn ACLs are no joke. There is a reason that it is such a long recovery. It is a very serious injury. And even though it was only two games we saw him last season, he didn’t look the greatest only gaining 34 yards total in both games. However with all that being said, a healthy Saquon Barkley is consistently going to produce for you, week in and week out. And as long as he able to stay that way, he is going to have a solid season.
5. Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb has now had his three season in a row being a reliable option for the Cleveland Browns. With 12 touchdowns and 1067 yards rushing on the season, Chubb comes into this season with some expectations. He and the Browns are no longer the laughing stock of the NFL, they are here to win. To do that, Nick Chubb, along with the rest of the Browns team are going to have to take that next step if they want to seriously contend.
4. Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook had the best season of his career yet with new career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns. 1557 yards and 16 touchdowns has many Vikings fans eagerly awaiting what Cook is able to do this season. If he is able to increase those numbers again, which he is very capable of, he could have himself yet another career year.
3. Alvin Kamara
Watching the New Orleans Saints might take some getting used to. With their longtime legendary QB Drew Brees announcing his retirement, it’s unclear whether or not the Saints will have any success this season. One thing that is crystal clear however, is that the RB position will play a huge factor. And Alvin Kamara is not going to disappoint when his number is called. Without Drew Brees, Kamara may be asked to take more carries than usual, and I believe that he will be up for the task.
2. Christian McCaffrey
Now I know what you might be thinking. I had Saquon so low because I was worried about him coming back from injury. And while that is true, that is not the only reason. I also mentioned his lack of production for the little bit that we did see of him last season. That was not the case for CMC. In just the three games he played last season before sustaining an injury, he rushed for 225 yards and 5 touchdowns. I don’t see the injury from last season effecting him so much that his production dips. If it does, it won’t be significantly.
1. Derrick Henry
If you paid attention to football at all last season, this one is really a no brainer. Derrick Henry was absolutely dominant last season. Seemed like every week we saw a different highlight of him stiff arming a grown man like they are a child. Or running straight through them like a tackle dummy. He led the league in rushing touchdowns with 17. And to top it all off, he became the first player since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to join the 2,000 yard club. A club that is full of legenedary running backs. He rushed for 2,027 on the year. Derrick Henry is going to have a monster season and there is nothing me or NFL defenses are going to be able to do about it.
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