Devonta Freeman has become one of the most dangerous running backs in the NFL. He is dynamic as both a runner and receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. There are not many running backs as good as him in one area of the game, let alone both.
Freeman missed two games last season, which possibly cost him a third-straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He is a bit undersized and has an impatient running style that leads to big hits. Those hits have resulted in a pair of concussions that caused him to miss three games in his career (one in 2015 and two in 2017).
He ranks 23rd in rushing attempts, 25th in rushing yards, 18th in rushing touchdowns, 12th in yards per rush attempt and 18th in yards per touch among active players.
#2 – Alvin Kamara
Kamara burst on the scene last season as a rookie. The New Orleans Saints drafted him in the third round despite having Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson already on the roster. Kamara quickly showed he is the best of the bunch. He spent the season as the backup, but still posted over 1,500 total yards from scrimmage and had a league-high 6.1 yards per carry. He has very good speed, but is very difficult to tackle because of his balance. When defenders get their hands on him, he still finds a way to escape. His carries and catches should increase this season with Ingram serving a four-game suspension to begin the season.
#3 – Mark Ingram
Ingram had his best season in the NFL last year for the Saints. Despite splitting time with Kamara all season and Peterson in the first couple weeks, he posted career-highs in carries (230), rushing yards (1,124), rushing touchdowns (12), receptions (58), receiving yards (416) and yards from scrimmage (1,540). He is a solid, well-built back with the ability to run between the tackles and catch passes. He and Kamara are as a good of a duo as there is in the league. What makes them so dangerous as a duo is that they both can do the same things, but do it different. Kamara is more elusive and a slasher and Ingram is more of a pounder and physical runner. He ranks 18th in rushing attempts, 13th in rushing yards, 11th in rushing touchdowns, fifth in yards per rush attempt and 24th in yards per touch among active players.
#4 – Tevin Coleman
The Falcons drafted Coleman in the third round one year after taking Freeman in the fourth round. Freeman took off as the starter. Coleman has been a very good No. 2. Coleman is bigger than Freeman, but is fully capable of playing any down and any situation. He has a very similar skill set to Freeman and probably could be the primary ball carrier for the majority of the teams in the league.
#5 – Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey has the perfect skill set for today’s NFL game. His versatility and ability to play multi-roles in the offense got him taken eighth overall in the 2017 draft by the Carolina Panthers. He was targeted nearly as much in the passing game as he had carries. McCaffrey has a lot to prove as a running back, but his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and lined up as a wide receiver should make the Panthers very excited about his future.
#6 – C.J. Anderson
Anderson was cut by Denver prior to the 2018 draft after setting career-highs in games played (16), carries (245), rushing yards (1,007) and yards from scrimmage (1,231). Even his 2017 totals look good, he hasn’t been as good the last two years as his first three. He averaged over 4.7 yards per carry over his first three years, but less than 4.1 yards per carry the last two. He also saw his rushing touchdown numbers have dropped in every year since 2014. He is a short, stocky runner that will complement McCaffrey as a short-yardage, pounding back. He ranks 29th in rushing yards and 24th in yards per touch among active players.
#7 – Ronald Jones
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not had a running game or consistent running back in quite a few years. Doug Martin had two very good seasons, but the other four seasons were marred by injury and poor play. After releasing Martin in February, the Buccaneers skipped free agency and turned to the draft to find his replacement. Jones was not one of the most talked about running backs in the draft, but he has the ability to create big plays on the ground. He is a slashing runner that hits the hole with speed and can pull away from defenders.
#8 – Jacquizz Rodgers
Rodgers has quietly had a solid career in the NFL as a backup. He has played for three teams over seven seasons and amassed nearly 2,000 rushing yards and just over 3,200 yards from scrimmage. He is an undersized running back that is willing and capable of grinding out yards between the tackles and won’t fumble. He has just three fumbles on 512 carries in his career, including a streak of 244 straight rushing attempts without losing the ball dating back to the Week 5 of the 2014 season. He will likely spend the season as the backup to Jones in Tampa Bay, but will be ability to fill in as the starter if the need should arise. He ranks 13th in yards per touch among active players.
#9 – Charles Sims
Much like the rest of the Buccaneers running back group over the last few years, Sims has been injured or inconsistent throughout his career. Sims is an athletic receiver out of the backfield with good size and blocking ability. He is the perfect third down back in the NFL. He does not have the power running style or ability to be a primary back, but will help the Buccaneers offense stay on the field and get points. If he can stay healthy, he is a valuable asset to an offense.
#10 – Peyton Barber
Barber joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie in 2016. He was waived and re-signed within a week before the start of the regular season. With the help of injuries, he finished last season as the starting running back. The Buccaneers drafted Jones in the second round and Rodgers and Sims are healthy, which puts Barber in a battle to earn a roster spot. He is a big back with good athleticism and balance. He will grind out three or four yards, but doesn’t have the explosiveness or straight-line speed to be a primary ball carrier.