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Positional Rankings: Rushing Weapons

The positional rankings article picks up some steam with the running back. In this article, running back rushing ability is analyzed for the rankings. QBs and some WRs can be included as a running threat.

First: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have a very strong running game led by Adrian Peterson. Peterson has been a very good RB every year in the league. Peterson led the league in yards at 4.5 YPC in 2015 with 327 carries. He’s still a great back even at his age.

Jared McKinnon is a good backup RB. McKinnon had a good 2014 filling in for an injured Adrian Peterson. McKinnon had 5.2 YPC only 50 carries in 2015.

Bridgewater is a rushing threat from the QB position and had 4.4 YPC on 44 carries. Matt Asiata is a short yardage back that can carry the load from past seasons.

The Vikings were 4th in the league with 4.7 YPC in 2015 and are very consistent running the ball.

Tied Second: Carolina Panthers

Carolina was 10th in the league at 4.3 YPC in 2015. Jonathan Stewart had 4.1 YPC on 242 carries with 6 TDs in 2015. He finally stayed healthy and proved he can be a solid featured back.

Cam Newton is an absolute monster with 4.8 YPC on 132 carries with 10 TDs. Newton or Russell Wilson are the best rushing QBs in the league.

Mike Tolbert is a short yardage back but did have 62 carries at 4.1 YPC. Cameron Artis Payne had 41 carries at 4.1 YPC.

The Panthers have a good run game with a good interior offensive line and run blocking right tackle.

Tied Second: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay was second in the league rushing for 4.8 YPC. Doug Martin was a beast with 4.9 YPC on 288 carries with 6 TDS. The Bucs got downgraded because Martin fluctuates every year with YPC.

Charles Sims is a very good backup with 4.9 YPC on 107 carries. QB Jameis Winston added 3.9 YPC and 6 rushing TDs.

Tampa Bay can run the ball well.

Fourth: Green Bay Packers

Eddie Lacy had 4.1 YPC to match his rookie year. Lacy had a monster 2014 season but the buffet line got him during 2015. Lacy had 187 carries and 3 TDs. James Starks is a solid backup at 4.1 YPC with 150 carries. Starks notched 2 TDs. Lacy had 4 fumbles and Starks had 5 fumbles on the season. Green Bay must work on ball security.

Aaron Rodgers is a threat with 5.9 YPC on 58 attempts. Rodgers only had 1 rushing TD. Randall Cobb had good prior years but only notched 3.8 YPC in 2015. John Crockett didn’t produce as a 3rd back (9 carries 2.3 YPC).

Green Bay has an above average run game at 4.2 YPC (11th in league) in 2015 with the aid of Rodgers rushing. Lacy (see 2014) and Starks could be better and Crockett is not a good 3rd RB. Aaron Ripkowski has a lot to prove at full back to match Kuhn in short yardage.

Tied Fifth: Detroit Lions

Detroit’s run game was night and day under Jim Bob Cooter compared to Joe Lombardi. Rookie Ameer Abdullah rushed for 4.7 YPC in the last 8 games and had 143 carries on the year for 4.2 YPC overall.

Abdullah can find the holes and has some elusiveness. He had a nice rookie season given his run blocking circumstances. Abdullah fumbled 4 times but only lost 2. He seemed to have fixed that issue in the second half of 2015 (only 1 fumble). Abdullah scored 2 rushing TDs.

Stevan Ridley has two good seasons in 2012 (4.4 YPC on 290 carries with 12 TDs) and 2013 (4.3 YPC on 178 carries with 7 TDs) with the Patriots. An injury (torn ACL) derailed his 2014 season after some poor play and fumbling issues.

Ridley sat out most of 2015 but played sparingly late in the season with the Jets at a terrible 2.5 YPC. Ridley will be the new power back for Detroit but must fix his ball security issues from the Patriots. Ridley is two years removed from his injury but is still an injury concern hurting his speed and agility.

Theo Riddick only had 3.1 YPC on 40 carries. He is purely a receiving running back at this point. Zach Zenner only played 3.5 games but showed some flashes as a rookie. Zenner’s 3.5 YPC on 17 carries isn’t enough to beat out Ridley though. Zenner is a good downhill runner. Michael Burton is a decent short yardage full back as a rookie. Dwayne Washington is a long shot to make the roster as a 7th round pick from Washington.

Golden Tate had 6.8 YPC on 6 carries. He can be a threat on the ground with reverses. Stafford had 3.6 YPC on 44 carries. He had a few surprising runs in 2015 but isn’t much of a threat. Stafford had 1 rushing TD. Marvin Jones had 6.6 YPC on 5 carries with the Bengals.

Detroit has potential after a good rookie season from Abdullah and past production from Ridley. The new improved Detroit offensive line will help them get better and more efficient run production in 2016. Detroit was very poor in 2015 (3.8 YPC) in the run game other than Abdullah (4.2 YPC). This was the old offensive line and Joe Lombardi’s fault and Ridley and Zenner offer promise as power backs. Abdullah can be a good back but must prove he can handle 200 carries without many fumbles.

Tied Fifth: Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons rushed for 3.8 YPC like Detroit. Devonte Freeman had a fast start but ended with 4.0 YPC. Freeman proved he could be a work horse back with 264 carries and 11 TDs. Rookie Tevin Coleman had 4.5 YPC on 85 carries with a TD in a solid rookie season. Freeman had 2 fumbles and Coleman had 3.

Terron Ward had 3.3 YPC on 29 carries. Matt Ryan is slow with 1.7 YPC on 37 carries. Julio Jones didn’t attempt any reverses.

Freeman is a good player and Coleman has some good potential as 2nd round pick in 2015. The Falcons lack a 3rd back or any QB rushing threat.

Tied Fifth: New Orleans Saints

The Saints also had 3.8 YPC but this was due to Mark Ingram’s injury in 2015. Ingram had 4.6 YPC on 166 carries. Ingram added 6 TDS and is finally realizing his first round potential. Tim Hightower had 3.9 YPC on 96 carries. Hightower had 4 TDs. Ingram only had 1 fumble and Hightower didn’t fumble.

CJ Spiller didn’t work out well with 3.1 YPC on 36 carries. Spiller had 1 fumble but didn’t lose it. Travaris Cadet only had 4 carries. Brees can’t run with 14 yards on 24 carries for a .6 YPC average. The Saints lost Robinson with 4 TDs but only 3.2 YPC. Brandon Cooks had only 2.3 YPC on reverses.

Ingram can be the workhorse and Hightower is an average backup. Spiller is a disappointment. Brees is laughable trying to run.

Eighth: Chicago Bears

The Bears ran for 3.9 YPC in 2015 but lost Matt Forte in the offseason. Forte ran for 4.1 YPC on 218 carries with 4 TDs. Jeremy Langford had 6 TDs as a rookie but only 3.6 YPC on 148 carries.  Langford did not fumble however. Langford has huge shoes to fill and 3.6 YPC won’t cut it.

Cutler is a threat with 5.3 YPC on 38 carries. Cutler added one TD.

KaDeem Carey tallied 3.7 YPC on 43 carries. This is a poor backup. Jacquizz Rodgers had only 14 carries at 2.9 YPC. Jordan Howard had great college production and was a big back added in Round 5. Howard has good potential but some injuries in the past.

The Bears have some big question marks in the running game for 2016. They have some young talent with Langford, Carey and Howard but a lot to prove. The Bears hope their offensive line shuffle will help in 2016 as well.

Summary

Vikings, Panthers and Bucs have very good rushing attacks with a QB threat on top. Green Bay, Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans all could have decent running games with health and offensive line improvement. Chicago’s young trio of backs have a lot to prove but potential.