NFL Top 10 Running Backs 2011
10. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (6)
Not many runners possess his combination of power and finesse. (The finesse side of his game remains underrated.)
9. Michael Turner, Falcons (NR)
Style of play suggests he’s bound to hit a wall soon, but we’ll deal with that when it happens (or we’ll just write the guy off). Right now, he remains the best tackle-breaking bell cow in the NFC.
8. Steven Jackson, Rams (3)
Wear and tear is taking a bit of a toll, but tenacity and wisdom are picking up enough of the slack (for now).
7. Ray Rice, Ravens (4)
Struggled uncharacteristically at times in 2010, but not enough to make you lose appreciation for his lateral agility, vision, unassuming power and versatility.
6. Frank Gore, 49ers (8)
The consummate downhill runner. Plays his heart out every Sunday, too.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (5)
The most difficult player in the league to tackle. Can also destroy opponents with his pass-blocking and receiving.
4. Chris Johnson, Titans (1)
A threat to score on every down, but must develop a greater appreciation for the four-yard gain.
3. Arian Foster, Texans (NR)
Perfect fit in Houston’s runner-friendly zone-blocking scheme, though a player with his supple power and east-west explosiveness is a perfect fit in a lot of systems.
2. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (NR)
Record-setting 2010 numbers (6.4 yards per carry!) were a genuine reflection of his playmaking prowess. He’s Chris Johnson only with more run-to-run consistency.
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (2)
It’s somewhat of a shame that the most violent, explosive ballcarrier in the game (by far) has had to overcome shoddy blocking the past two years.
On the cusp:
Cedric Benson, Bengals; Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, LeSean McCoy, Eagles; Danny Woodhead, Patriots; DeAngelo Williams, Panthers; Darren McFadden, Raiders
Dropped from list:
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (10)
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (7)
The drop of both players is simply a function of Foster and Charles breaking out.
Youngster that could burst onto next year’s list:
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
The third-year pro runs with surprising elusiveness and is a major part of Philly’s passing attack. Most encouraging is the improvement he’s shown from a mental standpoint.