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Rating The NFL’s Top 7 Backfields Entering 2022 Season | Bleacher Report


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    Despite all of the discuss positional value, there’s still a bonus to having a dynamic backfield.

    The times of 1 superstar running back within the NFL is perhaps waning, but it surely’s still essential for teams to have a rotation of backs that could make plays.

    With the recognition of the running back-by-committee approach surging, it is best to have a look at the entire backfield to get an idea of how teams rank. Najee Harris, Alvin Kamara and David Montgomery were the one players on the position to average not less than 75 percent of their team’s offensive snaps per game last season, per FantasyPros.

    Based on recent production, injury history, depth and overall talent level, here’s a take a look at the seven best backfields within the league heading into the brand new season.

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    Notable Backs: Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon III

    Russell Wilson is a great man. The star quarterback selected to waive his no-trade clause to go to Denver for a reason.

    The receiving corps is crammed with young talent, but he also knows he has a running back duo in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III capable of massive plays.

    The pair cracks the list based on the potential for a Javonte Williams breakout season combined with the steadfast production of Gordon.

    There was quite a bit to love about William’s rookie season. The North Carolina Tar Heel barely missed the cut for Next Gen Stats‘ top-10 most explosive runners from last season based on runs of 10-plus yards and carries that hit 15 mph, and that was with him only playing 51 percent of the snaps.

    Williams looked the a part of an elite back when he got the ball last season. He led the league in attempts per broken tackle with 6.5 last season, breaking 31 tackles on just 203 carries.

    The Broncos were capable of ease the rookie into the offense because Gordon remains to be a reliable back. He had 1,131 all-purpose yards last season, averaging 4.6 yards per touch and scoring 10 touchdowns.

    If Williams takes the following step in his progression while Gordon continues to be a productive back, the Broncos might be even higher on this list by the tip of the season. For now, they’re probably the most projection-based backfield on the list.

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    Notable Backs: Derrick Henry, Hassan Haskins

    When healthy, Derrick Henry remains to be probably the most unique forces in football.

    King Henry only played in eight games last season, and he still ran for 937 yards. The important thing number there may be that he did that in only eight games. Given his workload during the last three seasons and the undeniable fact that he’s 28, there’s reason to be skeptical about his health going forward.

    Henry has been an anomaly so far in his profession. He was tenth in carries last season despite playing slightly below half the season and led the league in attempts in 2019 and 2020 with over 300 attempts each season.

    The wear and tear and tear may not be affecting his play yet, but it surely could affect his availability. Thus, the Titans are slightly lower on the list than they might be had Henry finished last season healthy.

    Should Henry miss time again, the Titans may have to depend on fourth-round pick Hassan Haskins. While the rookie recorded a formidable senior campaign at Michigan, rushing for 1,327 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games, the Titans would not be on the list if it weren’t for Henry.

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    Notable Backs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard

    The Dallas Cowboys might need their depth chart mixed up with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard but that does not take away from the actual fact this remains to be considered one of the league’s most talented backfields.

    Ezekiel Elliott has been on the decline from an efficiency standpoint, but he’s still a productive back. He was still considered one of only seven backs to crack 1,000 yards rushing and averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

    What saves the Cowboys rating is the efficiency that Tony Pollard brings to the table.

    The third-year back was probably the most efficient backs within the league, recording 1,056 yards from scrimmage and 6.2 yards per touch on the season. Pollard finished only behind Rashaad Penny within the latter category amongst running backs.

    Pollard was difficult to bring down on first contact, too. He was sixth within the league in yards after contact per carry.

    This season, the Cowboys have reportedly been seeking to get Pollard much more involved, playing him within the slot during OTAs. With an expanded role for Pollard, the Cowboys backfield remains to be a top-five unit within the league.

    They simply do not have the identical caliber starting back as the following 4 teams on the list.

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    Notable Backs: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison

    Don’t let the undeniable fact that Dalvin Cook finished outside of the top 10 in points-per-reception fantasy football leagues idiot you. The 26-year-old back remains to be the most effective within the league.

    Cook was the second-most explosive running back last 12 months by Next Gen Stats. He had 54 runs of 15 miles per hour or more, probably the most on the position.

    Cook did see a dip in his numbers as a receiver in 2021 and didn’t find the tip zone as often. He only hauled in 34 receptions and scored six rushing touchdowns after scoring 16 in 2020.

    A few of that needed to do with the emergence of Alexander Mattison as his backup. The Boise State product saw 39 targets, greater than his first two seasons combined.

    The 5’11”, 215-pound back wasn’t only a pass-catcher, though. He proved to be a tricky runner and was considered one of just 4 running backs who averaged one broken tackle every 10 attempts or less.

    Mattison’s rise makes up for the small dip in production for Cook. He had 4 starts in Cook’s absence and had not less than 100 yards from scrimmage in three of them.

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    Notable Backs: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Phillip Lindsay

    Jonathan Taylor alone locks up a top-three spot on the list.

    The 23-year-old back viciously took the torch because the league’s best running back in his second season. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,171 and tied for the lead in total touchdowns with 20.

    Perhaps most impressively, he had 41 more combined first downs and touchdowns than anyone within the league last season, per PFF.

    At a position where explosiveness and age matter, Taylor remains to be in his early prime and was ranked as probably the most explosive running back in the sport, in response to Next Gen Stats. His rating was boosted by probably the most yards after contact (1,418) and yards over expected (481).

    The one thing holding back the Colts in these rankings is the query of what happens if Taylor goes down. While the 2 teams ahead of them on this list could be effective for a stretch without their No. 1 back, the Colts cannot say the identical.

    Nyheim Hines is an ideal sidekick for Taylor, though. Hines chipped in 586 scrimmage yards last season, but 310 got here through the air. If Taylor were to go down, the Colts would should depend on a mixture of Hines and Lindsay to hold the bottom game.

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    Notable Backs: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon

    The departure of Davante Adams throws some uncertainty into what the Green Bay Packers’ offense will appear to be in 2022. Fortunately, they’ve a tandem of running backs in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon which might be greater than able to leading the way in which.

    Last season, each players eclipsed the 1,100-yard mark and combined for two,306 scrimmage yards.

    What makes them especially dangerous is their balance. Jones averaged 5.3 yards per touch on 223 with 10 touchdowns. Dillon had 221 touches, averaging 5.1 yards and scoring seven times.

    Between Jones’ pass-catching and Dillon’s powerful running, they’ve all of their bases covered. The 2 have turn out to be nearly interchangeable and will only see greater roles with Adams and his 169 targets now gone.

    The Packers have justified confidence of their running back duo. Expect them to hold the offense in 2022, even with a reigning MVP at quarterback.

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    Notable Backs: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson

    Peanut butter and jelly. Cheeseburgers and fries. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Some duos just belong together.

    No matter who’s playing quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, the mix of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is difficult to stop. Individually, each running backs are routinely atop PFF’s leaderboard for forced missed tackles.

    Chubb has a fame for being a robust, between-the-tackles runner but he’s also able to hitting the house run. Based on Next Gen Stats, Chubb hit over 15 miles per hour on greater than 20 percent of his runs last season.

    Hunt remains to be an ideal complement, though. His pass-catching ability gives the Browns a well-rounded skill set within the backfield. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry but additionally caught all but five of his targets last season.

    The lone ding here is Hunt’s availability. He only played eight games in 2021 due to injury and eight games in 2019 attributable to suspension.

    Nevertheless, third-string running back D’Ernest Johnson is a greater than capable alternative. The fourth-year back recorded three games of not less than 130 yards from scrimmage last 12 months, two of which got here in starts while Chubb and Hunt were sidelined. Johnson has proven he can step into the starting lineup and provides the Browns three options capable of massive games.

    Advanced stats via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.

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