This has been one of the most inconsistent years for NFL teams last season, but it has also shown that a balanced attack can lead to wins. One of the portions of that attack is the rush. Like every year, making one this early and the short life span of most running backs makes this list more of a wish list than an actual guideline to follow. And with a shortened season, it should benefit most of these running backs although this list is early and should be taken with a grain of salt. And well, Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis has to contend with the Madden Curse, but more on that later…
- Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall. With Steelers coach Mike Tomlin at the helm, as long as he runs Mendenhall instead of relying on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm generally, Mendenhall should have another great season ahead of him.
- Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson. He is still a consistent part of this defense. Since Brett Favre has retired, the new quarterback will be forced to rely on the run. Leslie Frazier should benefit him as he recognizes Peterson’s talent.
- Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson. He is still a Titan, but without Jeff Fisher, who knows how this will affect the running game? I am bit of a pessimist on him returning to form with a new coach at the helm.
- Detroit Lions Javhid Best. Although prone to injury, a shortened season could potentially benefit this running back in terms of statistics and his career span. He was a bust last season, but he should be able to produce RB1 numbers early this upcoming season.
- Houston Texans Arian Foster. The only consistent part of the Houston Texans offense last season seemingly. He should still be capable of putting up RB1 numbers.
- New York Giants Ahmad Bradshaw. He’s great when he’s healthy, and with a shortened season, he should be capable of producing strong numbers into the regular season.
- Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner. He has matured into one great running back since leaving LaDanian Tomlinson‘s shadow.
- St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson. As long as he can still run, he can put up RB1 yardage but he’ll pan out with RB2 or less touchdowns for the most part.
- Oakland Raiders Darren McFadden. He does get inconsistent, but he’s grown into his running back shoes. If he gets a full head of steam early on this upcoming season quickly, he should be considered a must-start easily.
- Kansas City Chiefs Jamaal Charles. He’s part of an offensive machine that’s quite productive. And with his new contract last season, he should still be fighting for his starting position this upcoming season.
- Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch. Pick him only if you’re desperate. He will never overcome his sluggishness and his talent. Although the Seattle Seahawks went into the playoffs last season, it certainly wasn’t because of him.
- Philadelphia Eagles Jerome Harrison. Unless both Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are injured, then you should pick him up. Until then, he shouldn’t be an integral part of the Eagles offense in this upcoming season and into the future.
- Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy. Although an effective running back, he’s essentially the second running back with quarterback Michael Vick at the helm. At best, he’s going to be low-end RB2.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers LeGarrette Blount. He has the power and athleticism. Now he needs the experience…
- Cleveland Browns Peyton Hillis. Can he escape the Madden Curse even with a shortened season? I don’t know about that. If he can remain healthy, he is still a must-start. If he can’t, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- New England Patriots BenJarvus Green-Ellis. His stock will continue to rise on the New England Patriots.
- Carolina Panthers Jonathan Stewart. Although productive when healthy, I don’t know how the offense will change with a defensive-minded coach. He could be phased out as the Panthers seek a power back instead.
- Denver Broncos Knoshown Moreno. I like his versatility, but whether he can continue with John Fox, that remains to be seen.