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Top 10 Running Backs Entering the 2018 NFL Season

by Glenn Kaplan
by Glenn Kaplan

Having a very good running back isn't the most important thing in the world in the NFL, but a few of them are very talented and special. A lot of teams that have gone on to win Super Bowls recently, they haven't had a top running back or they have done a running back by committee.

At one point in time, you had to have an elite running back to win the Super Bowl, but that isn't the case anymore. Running backs are still important in the NFL because it takes pressure off the quarterback. Running backs are very reliable in the screen game and they also need to pass block as well. Who are the top 10 running backs entering the 2018 NFL season?

10. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints: Kamara didn't really take off until the New Orleans Saints decided to move on from Adrian Peterson early in the 2017 season. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram was one of the best running back duos in the NFL last season. Kamara has electric speed and he can also break tackles. Kamara has already developed a take over a game instinct. He is also good on special teams and catching passes out of the backfield. Kamara won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award last season. He rushed for 728 yards on 120 carries and eight touchdowns. Alvin Kamara also caught 81 passes for 826 yards receiving and five touchdowns. He also had a 106-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 17 on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

9. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons: Freeman has elusive speed and he is very good at hitting the hole. He missed a couple of games last season because of an injury, but Freeman is a home run hitter anytime he touches the ball. He is one of the key components in the Falcons offense. Freeman has emerged into one of the best running backs in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. He rushed for 865 yards on 196 carries and seven touchdowns last season. Devonta Freeman also caught 36 passes for 317 yards receiving and one touchdown.

8. Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns: Hyde is one of the most talented running backs in the NFL and he has played on some bad teams. Hyde has played for the San Francisco 49ers for the first four years of his NFL career. He will be playing for the Cleveland Browns this season and Hyde will look to improve the Browns running game. He rushed for 938 yards on 240 carries and eight touchdowns last season with the San Francisco 49ers. Carlos Hyde also caught 59 passes for 350 yards receiving.

7. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars: Fournette was a rock running the football last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He did a tremendous job protecting the football as a rookie and Fournette is a downhill runner and he is fast and strong. I thought Fournette was going to be a bust, but it looks like he is already one of the best running backs in the league. Fournette ran behind a very good offensive line and he didn't tip-toe behind it. He was one of the reasons why the Jacksonville Jaguars were able to reach the AFC Championship Game last season. Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards on 268 carries and nine touchdowns. He only played in 13 games last season because of some quad problems. Leonard Fournette also caught 36 passes for 302 yards receiving and one touchdown.

6. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears: Howard has been no joke for the first two years of his career. The Chicago Bears haven't been very good, but Jordan Howard plays his tail off week in and week out. Howard hits the hole hard, catches passes out of the backfield, and he has game-breaking speed. Jordan Howard will be a big part of the Bears offense once again this season and with an offensive head coach at the helm in Matt Nagy, maybe Howard's game will elevate even more. He rushed for 1,122 yards on 276 carries and nine touchdowns. Jordan Howard caught 23 passes for 125 yards receiving.

5. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills: McCoy is one of the most underrated running backs of all-time. He is constantly over shadowed by players like Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott, but all McCoy does is put up numbers week in and week out and put his team in a position to win. He was the focal point of the Buffalo Bills offense last season. McCoy was one of the reasons why the Buffalo Bills ended their playoff drought. He is very shift and finesse. They made it to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 regular season and 2000 postseason. He rushed for 1,138 yards on 287 carries and six touchdowns. LeSean McCoy also caught 59 passes for 448 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

4. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: Johnson suffered a wrist injury in the first game last season against the Detroit Lions on the road and it caused him to miss the rest of the season. The Arizona Cardinals running game suffered without him. They decided to add Adrian Peterson to the roster in 2017, but he wasn't the same player. With David Johnson back healthy, they should be better offensively. He catches passes out of the backfield and he is a tank in the backfield. Johnson rushed for 23 yards on 11 carries and caught six passes for 67 yards in 2017. In 2016, he rushed for 1.239 yards on 293 yards and 16 touchdowns. David Johnson also caught 80 passes for 879 yards and four touchdowns.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys: Elliott served a six-game suspension last season for his off the field issues and the Dallas Cowboys running game suffered. Quarterback Dak Prescott wasn't the same without him. Elliott is a game-breaking talent and is a threat to score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball. Elliott runs behind a very good offensive line and it is one of the best in the NFL. He is just 22 years old and he was the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Ezekiel Elliott doesn't catch the ball out of the backfield often. The more touches he gets, the better he does. In 10 games last season, Elliott rushed for 983 yards on 242 carries and seven touchdowns. He caught 26 passes for 269 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

2. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams: Gurley's game suffocated _**_in 2016, but with a new head coach in 2017 in Sean McVay, Gurley's game resurrected. His game-breaking speed came alive again and Gurley was catching passes out of the backfield. He rushed for 1,305 yards on 279 carries and 13 touchdowns. Todd Gurley caught 64 passes for 788 yards receiving and six touchdowns.

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers: Bell is a workhorse in the backfield. The more carries he gets, the better the odds the Steelers win the game. Bell can catch passes out of the backfield, run effectively, shift and maneuver through defenders, and pass block. He is going to want a long term contract from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they haven't given it to him yet. Bell is 26 years old. He rushed for 1,291 yards on 321 carries and nine touchdowns. Le'Veon Bell caught 85 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns.

This article was originally published on @gk18