The best running backs in the NFL
Over the last decade the NFL has become a more pass-heavy league. We are seeing the ball in the air a lot more ospften nowadays which is likely down to defenses adapting to the run, able to sniff out danger and read plays more easily. This means that backs must be smarter and more athletic than ever before and are vital in dictating the pace of the game.
Running backs come in all shapes and sizes and although many may think of a plucky, agile maybe shorter player it can also pay to pick up a powerful, trucking back to bowl through the opposition defence.
So, who are the best running backs to look out for in 2022? Let’s take a look.
Perhaps somewhat of a surprise entrant on this list, I don’t exactly expect Stevenson to set the league on fire in 2022 but his improvements are apparent. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been very complementary of said improvements, namely his threat through the air as well as on the ground. He was lightly used at the start of last season but had a breakout game in week 9 facing the Carolina Panthers. With 106 all-purpose yards that included a 41-yard reception on a short out-pattern that set up a Patriots touchdown, he unfortunately left the field with a concussion. However, he was back the following week, rushing for 100 and scoring twice. Stevenson will be in for a bigger workload this year and I expect this to be a real breakout season. According to the NFL Week 1 odds, the Patriots opening at +145 versus a new look Miami Dolphins.
The fact that Harris was still able to rush for over 1000 yards, the only rookie back to do so in 2021, despite playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league is a testament to his talent. That is why it is all the more scarier for opposition defenses that the Steelers have worked to improve that off-line this year, potentially making for a perfect storm for the Alabama alumni. There are likely to be a lot more gaps opening for him on the field in 2022 and Harris will take full advantage of that as Pittsburgh start like without Ben Roethlisberger.
It is easy to forget how good Austin Ekeler is when you look at the quality that the LA Chargers possess on both sides of the ball. Ekeler was ranked 5th in touchdowns scored by running backs last year, putting up 12 and rushing for an overall 911 yards. His explosiveness cannot be underestimated and with Justin Herbert continuing on his path to becoming an elite shot caller at QB, Ekeler can shine once again in 2022.
Despite a disappointing season for the team, Chubb still managed to put up some incredible numbers for the Browns last season. Second overall in league rushing yards with 1259 and just 228 attempts, he was perhaps the only bright spark for Cleveland last year. Another 1000+ yard season seems inevitable for Chubb if he is to remain as their dedicated back and he will no doubt continue to prove himself as one of the elite backs in the league.
After five years in Minnesota, Dalvin Cook yet again went for over 1000 rushing yards last year for the third season in a row. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that he will do the same again this season. The Vikings look strong this year and have a great shot at making the playoffs, an area where Cook is yet to really show what he can do. Playing just once in the postseason, Cook will want to help carry Minnesota back towards the playoffs in 2022 and he has all the ability to do just that.
Grass is green, the sky is blue and Derrick Henry trucks another 280lb defensive tackle. His unadulterated strength and speed make him one of the most feared backs in the league. Although he missed much of last season through injury, playing just 8 games, Henry still managed to rush for 937 yards, placing him 9th overall in the league. His incredible 2027 yard season in 2020 is still fresh in the mind of football fans and that time off last year could be just what he needed to come back swinging for the Tennessee Titans.
Statistically the best running back in the league last year, Jonathan Taylor ran away at the top of the rushing-yard charts with 1811 yards, nearly 600 more than second placed Nick Chubb. He also topped the chart of rushing touchdowns as his production went up and that production is likely to remain the same in 2022. Matt Ryan’s passing has not been the best in recent years and Taylor is a great outlet to disguise those shortcomings.